Food and Diet

Help! My Cat Won’t Eat

cat won't eatSome people may find it easy to joke about cats and their tendency to become finicky with foods. They don’t know that it’s actually a pretty serious issue once a cat refuses to eat. Although loss of appetite generally concerns all pets, it could be more dangerous for our kitties. Their refusal to eat usually indicates illness, so it’s imperative that you talk to your vet the moment you observe changes in your feline friend’s eating habits.

Never assume that your cat will get hungry enough that she will eventually eat. If a cat goes longer than 2 to 3 days without food, she can go into liver failure – also known as feline hepatic lipidosis – a potentially deadly disease. Cats can literally starve themselves to death.

Possible Causes of the Problem

The first step in treatment is being able to recognize some of the common reasons why cat just stops eating. These include respiratory infection, nausea, pain or trauma, ingestion of poison or foreign objects, age-related problems, change in their diet or food location, and/or household changes like moving in a new place, addition of a new pet, or departure of a family member.

What Can be Done

Whether your kitty is anxious, sick, or just simply picky, keep in mind that a complete refusal to eat food can have devastating results. It’s imperative that if you’re unable to get your cat to eat, you must take her to the veterinarian.

If illness is the reason why your kitty will not eat, consult your vet immediately and work with a regimen that will best help your ailing feline friend. This may include a change in the kind or consistency of the food that she normally eats. In severe cases, the veterinarian might have to prescribe drugs to stimulate your cat’s appetite, recommend putting her in a liquid diet, or advise the use of feeding tube instead to make sure that your ill cat gets the nutrition the she requires.

Now, if you have confirmed with your vet that the illness is actually not the culprit, try the following tips in order to encourage kitty to eat:

  • Heat the food by adding warm water to tempt your cat with the aroma of the appetizing cat food. If she still refuses to eat, make sure that you take the food away and that you give her a fresh, delicious meal later. Don’t leave it to harden and become stale; otherwise, your kitty will learn to avoid it next time.
  • Ensure a safe, quiet and comfortable location for your cat’s food dish. Choose shallower food bowls and keep them clean at all times.
  • Take her age into account. Try to adjust and consider providing your elderly cat with soft food if she has dental problems or elevating kitty’s food bowl if you know that she’s arthritic.
  • Give your cat attention and offer food by hand. Add something tasty to further entice her. You can sprinkle with mouth-watering bonito flakes or irresistible liver powder, even parmesan cheese. Now, if you’re committed to a particular brand (due to ethical or medical reasons), see if it comes in some other flavors. Experiment and try other brands as well which offer the same health benefit. You’ll see how kitty might find the flavor change very refreshing.
  • Offer your cat delicious foods she cannot turn down. Baby food, as long as it’s is meat only and contains no onion or garlic, is a great treat to help ignite your cat’s appetite for a couple of days. Once she’s eating again, you may transition her back to cat food.
  • Often times, cats with upper respiratory infections stop eating because they are unable to smell their food. Try offering canned cat food – the stinkier, the better. You can warm it up slightly to bring out the smell even more.


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