Cat refuses food – tips and tricks


Cats are picky by nature. Why? Because they can afford it!

Being a solitary hunter, no one will steal their prey from them and they can eat as much of it as they want, or not. They are also real gourmets – they eat only the parts of the prey that taste best to them! Whether a food is eaten or not, is also strongly connected with the smell, because the cat "checks" its food before it eats it over the nose!

Refusal of food in cats

There are several reasons for refusal of food. These can be harmless, but can also have a more serious reason. Therefore, if your cat suddenly refuses to eat, you should take it to the vet as soon as possible. Especially with kittens and older or. cats weakened by illness, food refusal is an alarm signal which should be immediately clarified by a veterinarian.

1) Harmless causes

  • cat is fullIt is possible that your outdoor cat has already killed and eaten several mice today or has been fed by the neighbor!
  • Less appetite due to heatCats are like us when it’s hot, their appetite is just not as big!
  • "Education" (of the human by the cat): Many cats quickly realize what they have to do to get other food, namely not eat the offered food for the time being and meow loudly. If the human reacts and quickly offers another food, the cat will know what to do if it prefers to eat something else.

2) Unknown food

A curious seeming reason for food refusal is: "What the cat does not know, it does not eat!" During the first weeks and months of their life, kittens learn from their mother what is edible and what is not. This will "Food imprinting" called. This imprinting phase lasts approximately until the end of the first year of life. After that it becomes more and more difficult to get the cat used to unknown food. So, if you offer your cat something he has never eaten before, he may refuse it.

3) Stress and illness

But sometimes more serious reasons can be behind the refusal of food! Your cat can z. B. also have stress or be sick:

  • Stress hits the stomachAs a sensitive creature of habit your cat reacts sensitively to changes. This can also show itself in reduced appetite.
  • In case of pain in the mouth, z. B. due to gum inflammation or sore throat your cat eats worse or not at all anymore.
  • Infections can decrease the appetite: If your cat feels generally bad, because it has an infection possibly also with fever, it eats badly or not at all. If your cat has a cold, it cannot test the food with its sense of smell and find it good.
  • Abdominal painIf your cat has a stomach ache, it will also eat poorly or not at all. There are many possible causes for abdominal pain, for example. B. (still) not excreted hair balls.

In addition, a whole series of other serious diseases can be behind the refusal of food!

Additional info: cats may associate their food with pain, even if the food was not the cause of the pain. This phenomenon is called "learned food aversion". Typical example: Your cat was in a veterinary clinic for a few days and now suddenly doesn’t eat her previously beloved food, which you had also given her for the clinic stay.

Let the cat starve?

Again and again it is recommended to just let the cat have its food until it eats it. But cats should, unless your veterinarian has found it for your Cat ordered for medical reasons, not starve. Due to a peculiarity in the metabolism can be caused by the Starvation Liver disease be caused.

Solutions: What to do when the cat does not eat?

If your cat eats badly for more than two to three days and you can exclude that it is due to the temperatures or. the feeding neighbor, please take her to the vet to exclude serious causes for the refusal of food. If your cat does not eat at all, you should present it to the veterinary earlier!

If your cat is healthy, try these feeding tips:

  • Offer fresh wet food: cats attach great importance to freshness. If the wet food, especially in summer, has been in the bowl for a long time, it is usually no longer eaten.

Additional tip: Always feed wet food in portions, z. B. in the morning before you leave the house and in the evening when you come back. For the time in between, dry food is the most suitable, because it can be left all day without loss of quality.

  • Also sometimes remain steadfastDon’t let your cat’s preferences guide you too much and don’t offer him a different food right away.
  • Do not offer cold or too hot food!
  • Quiet place to eatCats like to be unobserved while eating. Other pets or other disturbances can easily scare them away from the bowl. Offer your cat its food in a place where it can eat in peace and quiet.
  • Feed different varietiesDon’t stick to one type of food, but always feed something different: It’s best to vary between different tastes and consistencies.
  • Accustom the kitten to different types of food: You have a kitten? Accustom it in the food imprinting phase (until the end of the first year of life) to different types of food (z. B. BARF, Jelly, with sauce, Pate, dry food, but please do not give diet food).

If all this does not help, you can try to make your cat like its food additionally. This succeeds z. B. by warming it slightly (food smells more intense then) or by mixing in special delicacies.

ImportantIf your cat needs a special diet because of a disease (e.g. a cat disease), you can feed him with. B. If your cat is in renal failure, you should not simply mix in other food without first consulting your veterinarian about the best course of action! Warming up the food to make it more interesting for the cat does not hurt in any case!


Refusal of food can have many causes. For laymen, the exact reason is often difficult to pinpoint, and in principle, behind every refusal to feed can be a health problem. As a precaution, always take your cat to the vet if he or she suddenly refuses food, especially if he or she does not eat any food at all.

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