Cats can stop eating for a variety of different reasons, but one thing is always true: it’s stressful when your cat is not eating! In this article, I’m going to discuss the most common reasons cats refuse meals, steps to help jumpstart their appetite, and when not eating becomes an emergency.
Why did my cat stop eating?
Whether your cat has always been a picky eater, has never missed a meal in their life and is suddenly refusing all meals, or has a new condition causing them to avoid food, it’s important to first identify why your cat is not eating!
Here are the most common reasons we see cats stop eating:
- Kidney Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Foreign Body (something stuck in the intestines)
- Upper Respiratory Infections
For significant or prolonged inappetence, or when paired with other concerning symptoms (like vomiting or diarrhea), it’s important to check in with your veterinarian. They may recommend running a few diagnostics to rule out significant medical conditions and to discuss next steps to getting your cat eating quickly.
Here are a few ways you can promote better eating habits in your kitty:
- Create a stress-free environment. Our cats love, and thrive on, a good routine! If your cat is not eating, try to reduce any stress around mealtimes. Ensure you’re feeding your cat at roughly the same times every day. Try to avoid times with increased commotion, such as when people may be coming or going. Place food and water bowls away from noisy areas in the house (for example, avoid the laundry room!).
- Make it social. I have seen this tip alone break hunger strikes in many cats before! Some cats just prefer company during their mealtimes. If your cat is not eating, sit next to them, pet them, even offer them bites off a spoon if needed.
- Explore the bowls you’re using. It sounds crazy, but like us, our cats have preferences! For example, if your cat normally eats out of plastic bowls, try a ceramic or stainless steel option. Move to a plate and see how that works instead.
- Offer a buffet. Cats that stop eating often forget they are even hungry, and it can just take that one bite to remind them. Offering a buffet can up the value and increase the odds. Explore go-to brands that your cat has always liked, and also ones you’ve never tried. Try pate, gravy, stew, and freeze-dried options. When a cat is not eating I think it’s ok to offer a few kibbles too. Anything to get your kitty eating! Place one spoonful of each option on a small plate. Space each plate out by at least 1 foot so that one smell doesn’t overpower another.
- Warm the food. Warming your cat’s food will increase the smell, and may get them a little more interested. Just mix warm water into the food, or 5-7 seconds in the microwave will do! Use a finger to check the temperature and ensure it’s not too hot.
- CBD. For cats with frequent bouts of inappetence, CBD can be great. CBD increases appetite, decreases nausea, promotes well-being and decreases anxiety – all great things when it comes to meal time! For cats, we suggest the HempRx Feline Drops. Our dosing chart is here, but a good standard dose is 1 drop per 10 pounds, twice daily.
- Pharmaceutical intervention. For some cats, this may be necessary. This can include anything from an appetite stimulant, anti-nausea medication, or medication to treat the underlying/root-cause condition creating the issue. Seeing your veterinarian is a good idea if your cat is not eating and you cannot jumpstart their appetite.
When is not eating an emergency?
When a cat is not eating it can become an emergency. If your cat has not eaten anything in 72 hours, this is an emergency and you should seek medical care for your kitty as soon as possible. At the 3 day mark of not eating, cats can get Hepatic Lipidosis (AKA Fatty Liver Syndrome). This type of liver disease is triggered by prolonged anorexia and can be fatal if not treated. Your vet will provide in-hospital support to your kitty at this time, while encouraging good nutritional intake until their appetite returns to normal.
I hope that this helps you if your cat is not eating! Let me know in a comment below!
Meow and furever,
4 thoughts on “Help! My Cat Is Not Eating! 7 Steps To Take Now”
These are a terrifically, quickly useful set of articles, Thank you!
The Bubba Food…our elegant male Kitty’s preferred grown up Man Cat name for it! and
the Princess Pudding, favorite order to the kitchen name of lovely elder cat, Molly,
really often save the day for cats at home an in Communication practices..tasty, easy
to give supps. in, can be included for taste and protein in syringe or finger feeding, too.
We look for organic, as its more likely not to contain excessive sodium nor to onions,
garlic powder, so on
When we look for soup stocks, we look for No sodium because Low
can mean anything..all too much for kidney cats and many others, and also go for the no
onions or garlic/powder. Also that they contain 9 to 10 gms. protein as opposed to soup,
which has only 1 or 2 gms. Labels interchange stock and soup for mktg. purposes, checking is
important, as is being aligned with your vet on the protein question-high or low–high, to feed
the whole animal, considering not solely the kidneys, seems to be re-arising. A good stock can
be lived on or added to hydrate, energize foods. Animal and grocery stores now often carry animal
specific broths…always read the label, esp. in groc. stores.. The good ones are great! These two foods
vastly increase the possibilities to treat, feed, supplement, assist so many challenged or recouping
animals over the years, Glad to hear about them on this wonderful site.,and also to hear the multitude of appreciations to this wonderful, unique team praises Well deserved!
Grateful for all we learn here, Blessings.
Mt. Shasta, CA
It’s SO good to hear from you, Winterhawk! Love all of this amazing information, and hope you are well!!!
My kitty suffers from pancreatitis and I give her turkey baby food to get her eating again, this gives water and protein. Thank you for all of your good advice, emails, and newsletters. I have recommended you to many.
Thank you for all you do.
Take good care,
Such a good idea, meat baby food is generally a HUGE win for kitties! Like you said – protein and hydration, double win.
I’m so glad you enjoy Dr. Angie’s newsletters.