Cat loss of appetite.
Cats and kittens are well known to be less food orientated than dogs. They can be fussy or picky eaters but when they are not eating all together it can be a worry.
If your cat has lost its appetite (known as Anorexia) this can be a clinical sign of many diverse health problems for example dental disease, mouth injury or anxiety and stress, it may or may not mean your cat is experiencing any sickness.
Not eating is a very broad sign and cats can be categorised as those that can’t eat and those that won’t eat and symptoms can vary if your cat is experiencing pain or not.
Different steps should be taken depending if your cat is not hungry, vomiting, has an injury or is not drinking as well as not eating.
This guide is written by a qualified registered veterinary nurse and contains information and advice to help when you are asking the question – why is my cat not eating?
Presenting signs that may appear in cats or kittens with a lack of appetite can vary from cat to cat but they may include the following:
• Not eating – not showing any interest in food
• not hungry – may nibble and be tempted by cat food or a favourite treat but doesn’t eat well
• Not interested in a particular food – may eat meat or soft food but not harder types like biscuits
• vomiting – this may or not be present
• Pain – May want to eat but is in pain when tries to or the feeling of pain elsewhere is putting them off eating
Common Causes for loss of appetite in cats and kittens
Cats that can’t eat
• Trauma to the face or jaw for example fractured mandible (lower jaw)
• Pain in mouth – Dental disease, broken tooth, lesions or sore mouth.
• Gastrointestinal disease – Vomiting, Irritable bowel disease, food allergies
Cats that won’t eat
• Kidney disease
• Cat/Kittens personality or something psychological
• new arrival / moving house
• change in cat food / diet / meat or brand
Cats that won’t eat may or may not have other associated symptoms.
Dental disease may present signs including favouring a soft food over biscuits or eating more to one side of the mouth than the other, if one side is particularly sore.
Gastrointestinal problems like irritable bowel disease, may present with vomiting and diarrhoea as well as loss of appetite. Other diseases may present with your cat not feeling hungry but no vomiting will occur.
Stress of any kind including a new arrival or a change of environment, may be difficult to distinguish as cats are very clever at hiding when they are anxious. It is important that any other medical causes are ruled out before a diagnosis of stress is given.
Something simple like a new neighbourhood cat moving in on the road can be enough to make your cat feel uneasy and stop eating.
Whatever may be causing your cats loss of appetite, not eating can have an impact on your cat’s health even after as little as 24 hours.
For a kitten; especially younger than 6 weeks old, food avoidance for just 12 hours can be damaging.
If you want some more advice please contact our expert nurses over the phone.
If your cat has not eaten for some hours, then things can be attempted at home to encourage them to eat and may solve the problem, you can call us at PetGP if you are unsure and worried and our expert nurses can advise you on what to do next.
It can be difficult to think thoroughly about when or what your cat last ate or if anything else has changed recently so another thing our expert Veterinary Nurses can help with is by questioning anything that can affect or be associated with your cat’s appetite. For example has he been vomiting, is he in pain or has a sore mouth, or had a recent injury?
• The first thing to consider when your cat isn’t eating is how long has he not been eating for?
• Has anything changed recently within the house or your cat’s environment?
• Is he showing any other clinical signs of being unwell?
• Have you tried tempting him to eat with different cat food or meat?
• Has he experienced any unexplained weight loss or loss of coat/muscle condition?
If the situation does not merit a trip to the vet we will give you advice for managing the situation at home for example trying to tempt with warm tasty food or offering a calm quiet location for them to feel secure.
For more information visit https://pet-gp.co.uk/
The causes of inappetence can be very wide ranging so if the situation is more serious we will advise you to contact your vet.
Diagnosis by your vet
If you were to contact your vet and an appointment was necessary the vet will carry out a thorough examination of your cat. This will include looking in her mouth at her teeth, gums and throat to check for inflammation, dental disease or anything that could be causing pain or discomfort.
They will weigh your cat to check for any disparities since your last visit and weight check. They will check her physical condition and may run blood tests to rule out any associated diseases.
They will also check over her body for any painful responses or injuries. Depending on the symptoms seen, tests and examinations can vary.
The next step, if warranted, will be to get nutrition into your cat.
First they will tempt feed her with any tasty foods including any favourites from home, they will offer lots of TLC, hand feeding and encouragement.
If required she may be placed on intravenous fluids to correct any electrolyte imbalance that may be present as her body compensates for the lack of nutrition.
As a last resort if needed, a feeding tube may be placed to put food/nutrition directly into the stomach. If nutritional support is provided early enough then malnutrition may be entirely prevented, resulting in less medical intervention in the long run.
Medications prescribed by your vet that are appropriate for use in cats with a loss of appetite may be given to stimulate their appetite and prevent or relieve them from feeling or being sick.
Frequently asked questions when you cat stops eating
How can I get my cat to eat?
If you notice your cat has lost its appetite, there are few things you can try to tempt them to eat.
Firstly, check and watch to see if they are experiencing any pain. This can be done by looking how they are moving, sitting and their posture. Are they limping? Sitting hunched up and not wanting to move around? Watch for any vocalisation or flinching when eating or moving about.
If there are no signs of pain then make sure they are comfortable and in a safe and secure environment, this may be a warm, quiet spot away from other pets and members of the family. Spend a little time with your cat or kitten, giving them quiet attention, lots of TLC and try putting small bits of food on your finger or their paws for them to lick off. This can help their appetite get started. If you are still unsure please contact our expert nurses
Why isn’t my cat hungry?
Sometimes your cat may be hungry but may be in pain or finding it difficult to eat. Other times he may not be feeling hungry due to medical conditions or other stress factors. To help you ascertain which it is your cat is experiencing contact our expert nurses
What to feed my cat if it won’t eat or is being a fussy eater?
Some illnesses may result in a loss of taste so heating the food to body temperature can make food more appealing to cats. Using strong smelling or strong flavoured foods such as fish, chicken or prawns may help as cats appetites can get stimulated by smell. If you are still unsure please contact our expert nurses.
If your cat has to avoid some foods due to illness or treatment then it may be worth checking with your vet before trying a new food.
Tinned diets can be more tempting and appealing than dry food. Food that is palatable is important to cats and specifically for cats that may have gastrointestinal conditions as their appetites may be reduced and can be prone to weight loss. So you can try different forms of diet to tempt them to eat before mixing in their original food gradually.
If you are still unsure please contact our expert nurses
Tinned diets have an increased water content which can make gastric emptying faster, this can be preferable in certain cases like gastric ulceration but may not be desirable for long term due to less nutritional value per gram.
Diets that are available in both dry and tinned versions of the same type can be mixed allowing the mixture of both textures which may increase palatability.
If you are still unsure please contact our expert nurses.
or visit the website https://pet-gp.co.uk/
What can I do for my cat if it’s not hungry?
If your cat isn’t eating then try small amounts of different foods little and often. Cats can be put off certain type of foods when it is left to long or forced upon them if they are feeling unwell, so it’s important to avoid any food aversions by allowing a little time for your cat to try things and then removing them if no interest is shown.
Knowing your cat or kitten’s personality is also important, as some may prefer to eat early in the day with company and others may prefer later after dark in a quiet place on their own, so try and use your own cats preferences and experience and try anything you think may help your cats own preferences.
Once your cat’s appetite returns, the correct diet can be ascertained for your cat depending on their life stage, digestibility and suitably for both you and your cat.
If after attempting to get your cat to eat it still shows no interest and they haven’t eaten well or at all for 12-16 hours then you can call us at PetGP an our expert nurses will advise you what to do next.
https://pet-gp.co.uk/telephone-veterinary-nurse-service or visit the website https://pet-gp.co.uk/
Sometimes there is little you can do to prevent your cat loss of appetite.
However, precautions can be taken to lower the risk of some of the common causes.
• Any diet changes should be done gradually and mixed in with current food offered, If their diet is being changed for medical reasons then seek advice from your vet, including any food exclusion trials. If it’s being changed for other reasons then a new food should be introduced slowly by replacing small amounts of their current food with the new food over a period of a week.
• If any adverse reaction i.e. vomiting or loss of appetite is seen, return to the original food for a week before attempting to change again.
• Reduce stress in the cat’s environment as much as possible, take measures to help your cat feel more secure. If you’re about to move home or about to greet a new arrival, pheromone plug-ins can help.
Allowing your cat a separate safe area or enclosed bed are some ways to help them feel safe. More advice can be provided by our qualified registered veterinary nurses by calling us at PetGP – 03333327883
https://pet-gp.co.uk/telephone-veterinary-nurse-service or visit the website https://pet-gp.co.uk/
• Regular check-ups at your veterinary surgery may pick up early on some conditions like dental disease, that if left may cause appetite problems later on.
• Annual vaccinations will prevent diseases that your cat may contract and make them unwell which can also effect appetite and lead to further health issues.
What should I to do next?
As mentioned previously, when your cat stops eating it can be very worrying and can be down to a wide range of causes.
If you have tried the tips outlined above and you are still concerned or your cat still isn’t eating like they should be, then the next step can be contacting PetGP.
Our UK based Veterinary Nurses follow strict guidelines laid out by our veterinary director and ask a series of questions to determine the relative seriousness of your cat’s condition.
https://pet-gp.co.uk/telephone-veterinary-nurse-serviceThis process will hopefully rule out the more serious cases, which must be dealt with by a vet, and lead to advice on what you should do next for your pet.
If appropriate, our experienced and knowledgeable veterinary nurses will give advice relevant to you cats condition based on your answers.
• Please have your cat nearby as we will ask you to check a few things while you are on the phone with us
• We will ask how long your cat hasn’t been eating for or been off his usual food?
• We will ask you to think if there have been any other changes in diet, routine or environment recently
• We will ask if you have noticed any other symptoms or unusual changes in your cat recently.
Please Call us at PetGP 03333327883
or visit the website https://pet-gp.co.uk/ if you are unsure or contact our expert nurses for more help
https://pet-gp.co.uk/telephone-veterinary-nurse-serviceIf your cat is not eating due to a change of diet, a change in environment or a physiological factor we can give you advice to manage the situation and help with your cat’s appetite at home.
If the situation is more serious then we will advise you to contact your vet.