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Understand Why Your Cat Won't Eat

Understand Why Your Cat Won't Eat

If your cat won't eat, it can be cause for alarm for pet owners. But how do you know if it's an emergency or if your cat can wait until your vet has time to see them? Here are the answers you are looking for from our New Ulm vets.

Why won't my cat eat?

Cats are notoriously picky eaters! I'm sure every cat owner has spent some extra time scanning the shelves at the pet store to find something interesting and novel that your cat might like. 

That said, if your cat refuses to eat for more than 24 hours, an underlying health issue may be the culprit.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is common in older cats and may cause your feline friend to feel nauseated, causing them to lose interest in their food. 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 your older cat (over 7 years of age) has stopped eating or is exhibiting other symptoms of kidney disease, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Dental Issues

Dental issues in pets can lead to severe mouth pain, leading to your cat being too sore to eat. An injury to your cat's 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 his mouth, take them in to your vet as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. Your vet can perform a thorough examination and dental cleaning of your cat’s teeth and diagnose any issues that may be causing pain.

Gastrointestinal Problems

As with people, 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
  • 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.

Other Possible Causes

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 for any longer, it’s time for a visit to the vet.

If my cat refuses to eat, 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, contact your vet right away, or visit your nearest emergency vet clinic. Call ahead if possible.

Cats can quickly become seriously ill, making early diagnosis and treatment 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 has suddenly stopped eating, let our New Ulm vets help. Book an appointment to have your furry friend checked out today.

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