What if Your Cat is Not Eating or Drinking
Loss of appetite can be cause for concern for any pet parent. After all, cats seem to live to eat, so a cat that suddenly doesn’t want to eat can feel like a reason to worry. If you know what can be causing your cat’s sudden hunger strike and how to handle it, your worries will be eased.
It may be something serious that requires veterinary intervention, or it could be just a case of the picky-pickies. Know your cat, and you’ll know what to do.
Why is my Cat Not Eating or Drinking?
You may have to play detective to find out why your cat isn’t eating. If you live in the country, Kitty may have found an old barn infested with mice and her predatory instincts kicked in. If she’s getting food somewhere else, whether from hunting, begging or raiding trash cans, she may be too full to eat what you offer. If she’s just been vaccinated, she may have temporarily lost her appetite but will get it back soon.
If you’re on the move, she could have a touch of motion sickness. If she lost someone close to her, be it another feline friend or a favored human, she might not be in the mood to eat. It could be she simply likes her food served hot. A minute or so in the microwave will solve that. (The food, of course. Not the cat.)
There may be a more serious reason your cat isn’t eating. Kidney failure, intestinal problems, pancreatitis and several types of cancer and infections can lead to a loss of appetite. It may be something less worrisome like a toothache or tongue or mouth injury. Has Kitty gotten into something poisonous? If you wouldn’t want a toddler drinking or eating it, neither should your cat. Some plants, insects and frogs are poisonous.
One overlooked poison is opossum urine. Gnawing on something an opossum urinated on can cause necrosis of the tongue. If Kitty has been bitten by a venomous snake or spider, she may have loss of appetite among her symptoms. Some rather malicious people will leave out poisoned treats in a misguided attempt to keep animals off their property. Any poison can result in a loss of appetite.
Plastic might be cheap, but your cat won’t like it. Many cats are turned off by the smell of plastic. What’s more, plastic dishes are hard to keep clean. Cat’s not only dislike the smell of plastic but any leftover food that’s gone putrid might be unappetizing to them.
Metal and ceramic dishes are easier to clean. You don’t like eating off dirty dishes, so why should your cat? Clean the supper dish daily. Many cats, especially flat faced breeds, prefer shallow dishes that don’t constrict the whiskers. A flat faced cat might even prefer an open plate.
Weak Sense of Dehydration
Cats have a weak sense of dehydration. This comes from being evolved from creatures suited to dry environments. If your cat is eating moist canned food (which is 80% water), she may be getting sufficient moisture that way. How much water your cat needs depends on size and age.
Older cats may dry out more quickly, but young healthy cats don’t seem to need much. For every kilogram your cat weighs she needs 20-40 milliliters of water. They will drink only clean, clear water so make sure to serve it in dishes that adequately display how clean the water is.
Kitty hasn’t been using her cuteness to get extra treats, has she? You have to be the pet parent and decide when and what Kitty eats. Don’t fall for her begging. Ask that your guests not fall for the dewy eye look either.
Overfeeding is not good for cats. Not only does it cause obesity but eating the wrong kind of food can make her very unhealthy. Eating a lot of treats and “people food” might make Kitty lose her appetite for healthy cat food.
She may also be filling up on prey she caught herself or raiding trash cans or stealing food from other pets. For instance, there was one cat on Facebook who, much to her owner’s shame, ate the food the neighbors left out as an offering to Buddha. Make sure you’re the only one Kitty is getting food from.
Loss of appetite can be a symptom of many illnesses. See if your cat has other symptoms such as general lethargy, anxiety or litter box issues. If she has an abscess, protruding stomach or seems to be in pain it could be time to see a veterinarian.
Toothache and sore mouth in general can make your cat not want to eat as chewing is now painful. Gingivitis is the most common problem. This is an inflammation of the gums caused by a build-up of plaque. This can lead to periodontal disease and tooth resorption, the progressive destruction of the tooth root. The first symptom is pain.
If Kitty paws at her mouth or shakes her head a lot, her mouth hurts and she doesn’t know what to do about it. She may drool, sometimes with blood in the saliva. Bad breath is another sign something is wrong. Only a professional veterinarian should remove plaque from a cat’s teeth.
If your cat has colitis or has swallowed a foreign object that is blocking their intestines, her stomach might hurt too much for her to think of food. Her digestive tract may be inflamed due to ingesting something toxic, parasites, stress or food allergies.
An inflamed pancreas or irritated bowels can affect the appetite. If your cat has vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or bloody stools there could be a gastrointestinal problem and the vet needs to be called
This problem is most common in elderly cats but is often the cause of death in kittens as well. Deterioration of the kidneys can lead to a loss of appetite, but an increase in thirst. The cause could be a simple infection of it could be FIV or feline leukemia. The exact cause can be hard to identify. The vet will have to do blood work and urinalysis to diagnose.
What to do if Your Cat is Refusing to Eat or Drink
There are ways you can entice your cat to eat. But here are the three most important points.
-Provide a calm, safe and stress free environment.
-Opt for a cat water fountain. Some cats will only drink running water.
-Call the vet if all else fails.
- Why is my cat not eating? on www.vets-now.com
- Physical Exam Checklist for Pets Authored by: The VIN emergency medicine folder staff on www.veterinarypartner.com
- Dehydration in Cats on www.cathealth.com
- Risk Factors for Development of Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats N.C. Finch, corresponding author 1 H.M. Syme, 2 and J. Elliott 3 J Vet Intern Med. 2016 Mar-Apr; 30(2): 602–610. Published online 2016 Mar 6. doi: 10.1111/jvim.13917
- Tooth Resorption Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine