When the cat stops eating: causes and treatment options
If your cat has no appetite, this can have many reasons. If she also shows other symptoms, she may be sick. A close observation of your cat allows you to decide what to do.
If the cat eats hardly or no more, one speaks medically of Inappetence or Anorexia. The longer cats do not eat food, the more they lose their hunger pangs. Without your intervention your pet will not get out of this vicious circle. If your cat does not eat anything for more than 24 hours, a fatal liver failure may occur. So it is very important that you observe your cat at the first signs of loss of appetite. Ask yourself why your cat is eating less or no food at all anymore. Pay attention also to accompanying symptoms. If these occur, you should consult your veterinarian.
What are possible reasons for my cat not eating?
If your cat does not eat anymore, this can have many reasons. Some of them are harmless. So your cat may just be full. In the case of outdoor cats, there is a possibility that they have caught a mouse or have been fed by a neighbor. Even domestic cats can snack unnoticed, z. B. at the garbage or when food is left unattended on the table. Have you perhaps spoiled your darling today with especially many treats?
Cats are very picky
Each cat has its special preferences around the food and reacts under circumstances insulted, if these are disregarded. Cats are also sensitive to lack of hygiene. Food that has been left in the bowl for too long is no longer accepted, as it has lost its smell and taste. The same applies to incorrect storage. Light, humidity and heat deteriorate its quality. In the worst case scenario, wet food in particular can then spoil quickly. The supposed pampering of the cat is therefore a protective mechanism. The same applies to the hygiene around the feeding place. Food and water bowls should be clean, so should the stand. The litter box next to the feeding area is z. B. not a good idea.
Cats are creatures of habit
A small Change around feeding may cause the cat to refuse food. If the bowl is in a new location, a new food has been offered, or a new bowl, the cat may refuse to eat. Even a new cleaning agent or other new smells can cause the supposed lack of appetite.
Cats are sensitive to stress
Too much activity around the feeding place disturbs the cat. Especially if several cats eat from the same bowl or their feeding places are close to each other, cats are under pressure. Other stressors include big changes such as the arrival of a baby, a move, the loss of a family member. Being alone all the time can also be a problem for the cat.
In addition physical changes such as age or neutering associated with altered energy needs. The old cat eats less because it simply needs less. Also in the mating season cats eat less. Hormonal imbalance throws them off track.
If all other explanations have been ruled out organic causes Consider. Concomitant symptoms can give an indication if there is a disease present.
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What are possible accompanying symptoms of food refusal?
A number of accompanying symptoms may indicate that your cat is no longer eating because it is ill. Pay special attention to the following symptoms:
- salivating, loud smacking, stronger mouth odor
- Increased thirst
- Severe weight loss in a short time
- listlessness, tiredness, apathy
- Behavioral changes: Free-roaming cat no longer goes outside, cat withdraws or is more aggressive than usual.
What diseases could be the cause?
A combination of these symptoms can provide insight into the underlying problem. Some of the most common conditions that can also be associated with loss of appetite are as follows:
- Dental problems
- Kidney failure
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Infection of the pancreas
- Digestive problems such as diarrhea and constipation
- Catching a cold
- Injuries and inflammations in the mouth and throat area
- Liver failure
- problems with the thyroid gland
- intestinal parasites like roundworms
- Infectious diseases ( FIP, FelV, FIV)
Also medicines like antibiotics, vaccinations or an operation can temporarily spoil the appetite of the cat.
A quick look at the list shows that in addition to infectious diseases and poisoning, v. a. an impairment in the abdomen, upper respiratory tract, and mouth and throat is associated with loss of appetite. This is not surprising. If you have ever suffered from abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, you will be able to sympathize with your cat.
The loss of sense of taste and smell due to cat cold has a particularly negative effect on the eating behavior of cats. Because not least the cat decides on the basis of smell and taste whether a meal is edible or could make it ill.
Injuries and diseases of the teeth, mouth and throat affect chewing and swallowing. We humans are no strangers to this either. Common problems in cats are tartar and gingivitis. In young cats, the change from milk teeth to permanent teeth can also cause pain. In general, cats in old age often suffer from one or more of the diseases described above. Add in declining energy needs, and it’s not surprising that old cats eat less.
My old cat does not eat anymore: How can I support him??
In old age, diseases accumulate in cats as in humans. The body breaks down and becomes susceptible. Teeth, liver, kidneys or thyroid are most commonly affected. Dental problems should definitely be treated. Often only a professional teeth cleaning by the veterinarian will help.
It may be necessary to change the diet, as the liver and kidneys lose their ability to function with age. A special food can support organ functionality in old age.
Frequent vomiting can be an indication of incipient kidney or liver insufficiency, a blood test can tell you this. Vomiting is also one of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, this metabolic disorder makes your cat lose weight quickly, even though he eats adequately.
In such cases, the veterinarian has to prescribe medication and redetermine the choice and quantity of food. If you eat the wrong foods, your condition can deteriorate rapidly.
At what point should I consult a vet??
Regardless of the cause of the appetite loss, it can become a problem in its own right. A very serious one at that. If a cat does not eat for more than 24 hours, the body activates fat reserves. However, the liver cannot process the large amount of fatty acids produced. The fat is therefore stored in the liver and "fatty" of the organ occurs. This sog. hepatic lipidosis ends fatally without treatment. Especially in overweight cats this condition sets in quickly. That is why you should consult a veterinarian sooner rather than too late for old cats or cats with previous illnesses.
To find out why your cat does not eat anymore, the vet will examine your cat thoroughly. Especially the mouth and throat area will be looked at closely, because this is where most underlying diseases have their cause. He may also examine blood and feces in the laboratory. Depending on the suspicion, X-rays or an ultrasound examination may be necessary.
How do I motivate my cat to eat?
If your cat does not want to eat because it suffers from nausea or pain due to an illness, you must follow the advice of the veterinarian. Administer the prescribed medication and follow the instructions for type and quantity of food. Special food is often not as strong in taste and smell as normal food. So it may be that the cat rejects the new food also for this reason. By adding a little chicken or fish you can ensure that the food smells strong and is eaten by the cat with pleasure.
If the condition is not so bad that it requires a change in diet, you can feed your cat its favorite foods. If you feed meat, it should be well cooked. Chicken meat is particularly low in fat and easily digestible and can be fed well as a sparing food for a few days. However, you should completely avoid spices or bones. Give the food a little warm, then it is even better tolerated. In addition, this will increase the odors and flavors. This can awaken the cat’s appetite. You can also easily warm up wet food for this purpose.
If the lack of appetite is not caused by a physical, but a psychological condition, the corresponding causes must be found and eliminated. A bored cat may be encouraged to hunt with a snack ball, search games and rewards. Probably it will want to eat the prey then too. A lonely cat needs a lot of time with its caregiver. Playing and cuddling together can make all the difference. If you are at work for a long time and the hours in the evening are not enough for the house cat, you can consider buying a second cat. However, there is a risk that the stress of this change will cause loss of appetite again.
Changes should be avoided
Stress caused by restlessness and even small changes as well as lack of hygiene can also affect the cat’s stomach. Although a move or the arrival of a baby cannot be reversed, if the cat no longer eats. However, you can then provide her with a place to retreat and v. a. place the bowl in a protected, quiet place. Other changes z. B. on the bowl or the food should be avoided as much as possible.
A change of food should not be made without good reason anyway with picky fur friends. Almost always such (or just the change of the formula by the manufacturer) leads to a refusal by the cat. Therefore, you should not make a necessary food change overnight. It is better to feed a little less of the old food and a little more of the new food mixed every day.
You can also reconsider the quantities. Maybe your cat eats too much during the day. With snacks in between you should therefore handle sparingly. You can also spread the food over several meals a day, so that the cat does not overeat. Most food manufacturers indicate on the packaging of the food the exact number of grams that will cover the daily energy needs of your cat.
How to prevent loss of appetite?
Many of the supporting measures can also be used for prevention. A quiet, clean feeding place, a separate bowl for each cat, a suitable shape and size of the bowl go without saying. Make sure that the food is fresh. Prolonged standing and improper storage reduce odor and taste and, in the worst case, cause the food to spoil. In addition, you should generally pay attention to the health of your cat. Deworming, vaccinations and controls with the veterinary surgeon belong likewise like the treatment with illness. A healthy and satisfied cat will enjoy its meals until old age.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
If your cat stops eating, you should definitely keep a close eye on it. Various reasons can be responsible for the so-called inappetence. However, as soon as the above mentioned accompanying symptoms appear, you should not wait long and definitely consult a veterinarian at short notice.
As soon as, in addition to the inappetence, accompanying symptoms such as a stronger mouth odor, loud smacking, vomiting or diarrhea occur, you should definitely contact a veterinarian directly. The same applies to a strong weight loss or behavioral changes such as dullness and increased aggressiveness.
The most common causes of food refusal are dental problems, metabolic disorders, digestive problems and gastrointestinal diseases. Rarer are also injuries in the mouth and throat, poisoning or infectious diseases (etc.).) possible culprits.
In the first place, you should avoid major changes that interrupt the routine of everyday food intake in your cat at best. You should also pay attention to a quiet and clean feeding place, a food bowl of a suitable shape and size and always provide fresh food.
Therefore, you should never leave food for more than one hour. After your cat no longer shows interest in her food, you should take it away. Your cat should also not be allowed free access to dry food on a permanent basis. Regular feeding times, two to three times a day, are recommended.