Cat Won't Eat? - When to be Concerned if Your Cat is Not Eating

Cat's might be known for being picky eaters, but it is still alarming to have your feline companion stop eating altogether. Today the vets at Bear Valley Animal Hospital discuss common explanations for cats who won't eat.


Why won't my cat eat?

Sometimes, it can be as simple as your cat turning up their nose at the food provided; many a cat owner has found themselves scanning pet food shelves for new, interesting flavors of canned food and kibble their furry friends will love.

Still, even the pickiest eater has to settle eventually, so if your cat refuses to eat for more than 24 hours, an underlying health issue may be the culprit.

I've heard cats are prone to kidney disease, is that why my cat won't eat?

It's true that a relatively common condition in older cats is kidney disease.

Kidney disease can cause your fluffy friend to feel nauseated, which can in turn lead to a refusal to eat. Other symptoms include drinking lots of water and urinating frequently.

Two forms of kidney disease are common in cats. Only your vet will be able to diagnose and treat this serious disease. If they are over seven years old and your cat won't eat or is exhibiting other symptoms of kidney disease, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Could dental issues explain why my cat won't eat?

Perhaps!  A number of dental issues can cause your cat to experience pain in their mouth, resulting in a refusal to eat. An injury in their mouth caused by a foreign object, dental abscess, inflamed gums, advanced tooth decay, or loose or broken teeth can all cause significant pain.

If you suspect your cat is suffering from pain in their mouth, take them to your vet as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. After your feline friend is examined, your vet will perform a thorough dental cleaning of your cat’s teeth and diagnose any issues that may be causing pain.

I don't like to eat when I have an upset stomach, could gastrointestinal problems be why my cat won't eat?

Just like their humans, gastrointestinal (GI) problems can cause cats to feel nauseated and consequently, experience a drop in their appetite. Cats suffering from GI issues will often (but not always) display other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and weight loss.

Common GI issues in cats include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Colitis
  • Cancer
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Parasites
  • Changes in your cat’s intestinal bacteria
  • A foreign object, such as a piece of plastic or plant, in your cat’s digestive tract

It’s time to see your vet if you notice that your cat is experiencing weight loss, diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting in addition to losing her appetite.

Gastrointestinal issues, including the ones listed above, are serious and may warrant emergency care. Getting a diagnosis and early treatment for these GI issues is important for your cat’s health and should be done as early as possible.

Are there any other possible reasons why my cat won't eat?

Cats may refuse to eat for a number of reasons not directly related to their overall physical health, including:

  • New food
  • Depression/anxiety
  • A shift in normal routines
  • Recent vaccinations
  • Motion sickness due to travel

These issues should only cause your cat to skip two meals at most - no more. If your cat refuses to eat any longer, it’s time for a visit to the vet.

My cat is not eating, when should I visit a vet?

If your cat has skipped more than one or two meals or is exhibiting any behaviors or symptoms you’re concerned about, come to our emergency vet office in Greensboro right away. Call ahead if possible.

Because cats can quickly become seriously ill, early diagnosis and treatment are critical to your feline friend’s long-term health.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat won't eat or is experiencing concerning symptoms contact our Apple Valley vets right away.