The Cat Does Not Eat

Eating is one of the favorite pastimes of cats. But what if you find out: My cat is no longer eating as usual? If the beloved fur nose suddenly suffers from loss of appetite, keepers are of course worried. In the following article, you can read about the causes behind this and when it is better to see a veterinarian.

Causes: Why Doesn’t the Cat Eat?

Of course, it can also have completely harmless causes if the cat does not eat. In the case of open-airers, the neighbors’ food or the mouse that has just been caught may have tasted better.

It is also possible that your cat simply has no appetite at the moment or the contents of the bowl do not appeal to it. An abrupt change of food, for example from wet food to dry food or to another brand of food, can be another reason for the sudden loss of appetite in cats.

In addition, stress and fear quickly affect our fur-noses’ appetite. Changes in the household – for example, a new animal or the death of a family member – can lead to the cat eating less or not at all. The heat in queens also sometimes leads to a refusal to feed.

Less harmless causes

Unfortunately, there are a number of serious causes for a lack of appetite or the complete refusal to eat (anorexia):

  • Dental diseases: Inflammations in the mouth area or tartar cause pain and may prevent the cat from eating.
  • Infections: Viral diseases such as the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) or the feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) can cause loss of appetite, among other things.
  • Parasites: A worm infestation sometimes causes very unspecific symptoms. If the cat does not eat and the last deworming was a long time ago, parasites are one of the possible causes. Vomiting and diarrhea would also be signs here.
  • Organ diseases: diseases that occur particularly in old age, such as kidney failure or problems with the liver, among other things, lead to the cat having no appetite.
  • Poisoning: If your cat does not eat and also shows symptoms such as salivation, tremors or cramps, then poisoning could be the trigger.
  • Tumors
  • fever

Regardless of whether it is a harmless cause or a serious illness: If the cat does not eat, you should definitely get to the bottom of the cause.

Cat Does Not Eat: Other Symptoms

If the cat does not eat, it is not actually a disease, but simply a symptom. Nevertheless, side effects can occur depending on the underlying disease. Due to the lack of nutrients that inevitably arise when the cat stops eating, the following symptoms can occur:

  • General symptoms such as tiredness and weakness
  • Weakened immune system
  • Organ damage: hepatic lipidosis, cardiac muscle wasting, and kidney damage

Diagnosis: Cat Does Not Eat – When Should I See the Vet?

If your cat shows reduced food consumption for several days or does not eat at all for more than 24 hours, you should urgently see your cat to a veterinarian.

Since the list of causes for loss of appetite (inappetence) is very long, the diagnosis is based on the principle of exclusion. The investigation can therefore be very extensive, depending on the cause.

In order to be able to narrow down the possible causes better, the vet asks the owner (anamnesis) in conversation with the owner: When did the symptoms first appear? Are there any other symptoms?

In addition to the vaccination status and recent changes in the cat’s environment, the cat’s interest in the food is also an important indicator. If your cat is interested in the food but does not eat, a dental problem could be the cause, for example.

The medical history is then followed by a general clinical examination. Depending on what the vet determines, a blood test, X-ray, and/or ultrasound may follow.

Therapy: What to do if My Cat no Longer Eats?

The treatment of inappetence takes place through a special (removal of the cause) and additionally through symptomatic therapy. The following therapeutic measures may be necessary for the event of loss of appetite:

  • In the case of infectious diseases: if necessary antibiotics, antivirals, antimycotics
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Anti-nausea medication
  • Medicines to stimulate appetite
  • Force-feeding: In the case of persistent refusers, it may be necessary to feed the cat via a nasogastric tube or a needle-free syringe.
  • If the sense of smell or taste is impaired: feeding feed with strong odors (e.g. tuna)

Prognosis: What are the Chances of Recovery if the Cat Does Not Eat?

If the cat doesn’t eat, the prognosis can vary widely depending on the cause. While mild infections are usually over after a few days, tumor diseases or poisoning, for example, an endless well.

An early diagnosis is important in order to be able to treat the cat effectively afterward.

Prophylaxis: Can I Prevent Anorexia in Cats?

In principle, it is difficult to prevent a cat from not eating from time to time. Nevertheless, you can reduce some of the causative diseases such as infectious diseases or feed-related inappetence through prophylactic measures:

  • Avoid contact with sick animals and hygiene measures (e.g. regular cleaning of the litter box and the food bowl)
  • a balanced diet and weight-dependent rations
  • regular examination by a veterinarian
Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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