It can be very concerning to pet owners if their cat suddenly won't eat. At what point do you seek veterinary intervention and when would it be considered an emergency? Our New Iberia vets are here to give you the answers you need.
Why won't my cat eat?
Cats are well-known picky eaters. Oftentimes cat owners will find themselves searching the shelves at their local pet store to find a new, interesting flavor of food for their cat to enjoy.
That said, if your cat refuses to eat for more than 24 hours, an underlying health issue may be the culprit.
Kidney disease is common in older cats and may cause your feline friend to feel nauseated, which can lead to a loss of appetite. 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 in pets often lead to extreme pain in the mouth, resulting in a refusal 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 an enormous amount of 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.
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:
- Urinary obstruction
- 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
- 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 shown no interest in more than one or two meals or is exhibiting symptoms or behaviors that are causing you concern, contact your vet immediately, 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.