Cats are notorious for being finicky eaters, and it isn’t unusual for one to suddenly decide it no longer likes a certain food or treats. Sometimes, however, there could be a more serious issue at hand, so you should be aware of the potential causes behind the sudden lack of appetite. Most times, the issue can be solved by changing food, or your cat’s food schedule, but sometimes veterinary intervention is necessary.
Why Should You Be Concerned If Your Cat Stops Eating?
Multiple diseases and problems that can cause pain or discomfort usually first manifest as a lack of appetite. Therefore, it is incredibly important to take note when your feline isn’t eating like usual. Reasons your cat isn’t eating can range from simply not feeling well or not liking the food it is being served, to the stomach and intestinal issues requiring emergency veterinary care.
Obese felines can easily develop hepatic lipidosis if they stop eating for multiple days. The disease is also referred to as fatty liver disease or fatty liver syndrome and can be fatal if left untreated. The reason is that the liver becomes overwhelmed trying to convert fat to energy. If the liver isn’t functioning properly, your cat will not survive without veterinary treatment.
Common Health Issues That Can Affect Your Cats Eating Habits:
Respiratory diseases can affect your cats sense of smell or its’ ability to breathe, resulting in your cat not wanting to eat. Upper respiratory diseases may clog your cats nose and eyes with discharge, which will often cause a temporary loss or restriction of sight and smell. Lower respiratory tract diseases may affect your cats lungs, resulting in trouble breathing. Some respiratory issues can be cleared up by giving the cat simple antibiotics. Other times, the respiratory issues can be indicative of more serious health impairment, up to and including a form of cancer. Regardless of the underlying cause, if it prohibits your cat from being able to smell its food or causes it to feel generally lethargic and under the weather, your cat may decide against eating.
Digestive System Diseases:
Problems with your cats stomach, intestines, pancreas, or other digestive tract organs may cause it to suddenly stop eating. Your cat may also vomit, develop short term or prolonged diarrhea, or exhibit other signs of abdominal discomfort and pain when digestive issues are behind a lack of appetite. Acid reflux, tumors, an imbalance of intestinal bacteria, parasites, irritable bowel disease, and a host of other problems ranging from mild to life-threatening can be the culprit behind your cats sudden refusal to eat.
Foreign Bodies/Foreign Matter:
Cats will sometimes eat things that they shouldn’t, and it is well known that they develop hairballs from grooming. Both can become lodged in your cats intestinal tract, obstructing the digestive organs. If this occurs, your cat will likely begin frequently vomiting, and will more than likely stop eating altogether due to intestinal discomfort. Sometimes, these foreign matters can free themselves by the cat vomiting, or defecating, however, any prolonged cases of vomiting or diarrhea will require veterinary care.
Dental Issues/Dental Diseases:
Painful or diseased gums and teeth will result in your cat showing a marked decrease in appetite. This, of course, is due to oral pain. Cats can fracture their teeth, develop resorptive lesions, or be impaired by gum inflammation. As in humans, mouth pain will result in your cat not wanting to eat. However, dental issues can be hard to diagnose without your cat being sedated and examined by its veterinarian.
Food Problems Could Be The Cause of Lack of Appetite:
Cats can be very particular in their preferences in food. Sometimes, a slight change in a manufacturer’s formula can result in your cat no longer eating a food that they have seemingly enjoyed for years. Other times, it can simply be a change in preferences due to your cats age, or other food that has been introduced into their diet.
Food Shape and Texture:
Cats can be sensitive to certain shapes and textures of foods. Some prefer wet or dry food, and will only eat one of the two exclusively.
Have you checked the expiration date on your cats food? If it is even slightly out of date, your cat may recognize that there is something different, therefore, it will choose not to eat the food. Be sure to check the dates on the packages prior to feeding it to your cat.
Some Simple At Home Remedies:
Try the at home quick fixes to see if you can coax your cat into eating again:
Try a stronger smelling cat food than you normally feed your cat, such as a tuna flavored food. Or, take your cats regular flavor of wet food, and heat it in the microwave for a few seconds to increase the aroma the food is emitting.
Try a different shape and/or texture of food. If your cat is experiencing an aversion to a particular type of food, perhaps the switch inconsistency can be a fast remedy to the issue.
If it appears to be a respiratory issue, such as visible discharge or audible change in breathing sounds, try placing your cat in a bathroom full of hot steam to see if that helps to clear up the congestion your cat is experiencing. Or try using saline drops in your cats nasal passages to try to clear up the discharge and congestion that they are experiencing.
If none of the above-suggested remedies appear to bring your cats appetite back, you need to schedule an appointment with their veterinarian at once, due to the possibility of a serious issue being the culprit of the loss of appetite. As noted previously, a change in appetite, or loss in appetite, can often be the first symptom in many serious digestive tract issues with your cat. Time is of the essence in any digestive matter with your feline, so be sure to follow up with your vet even if their appetite returns to normal.