It can be alarming if your cat suddenly won't eat. But how do owners know if their kitty is just being picky or if they require medical attention? Our Turlock vets are here to share some common reasons why cats stop eating and when you should take them to the vet.
Why won't my cat eat?
Cats are notoriously picky eaters. Many cat owners find themselves constantly trying new food brands for their stubborn kitties, only to be left miffed again when their cat won't eat.
That said, if your cat refuses to eat for more than 24 hours, it could be due to an underlying medical issue. Consider all of the information below and possibly seek veterinary care if your cat's avoidance of food is severe.
Common in older cats, kidney disease can cause nausea and lack of appetite as a result. Kidney disease shows itself in excessive drinking and urination in cats.
Only your vet will be able to diagnose and treat this serious condition. If your cat of 7 years old or more has stopped eating or shows other symptoms of kidney disease, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
Oral or dental issues can lead to infection and pain in your cat's mouth. An injury to your cat's mouth caused by a foreign object, dental abscess, inflamed gums, tooth decay or broken teeth can all cause significant pain and lead to your cat avoiding food.
Your vet can perform a thorough examination and dental cleaning of your cat’s teeth and diagnose any issues that may be causing pain.
Just like humans, gastrointestinal (GI) issues can lead to stomach pain, nausea and lack of appetite. Some types of GI problems that could be stopping your cat from eating 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
If your cat is experiencing weight loss, diarrhea, constipation or vomiting in addition to losing their appetite, it's time to contact your vet. Some serious GI issues may warrant emergency care.
Other Possible Causes
There are some reasons your cat may not be eating that are not medical at all. Some other causes of a cat's lack of appetite include:
- New food
- A shift in normal routines
- Recent vaccinations
- Motion sickness due to travel
- Stranger in the house
Keep in mind that these particular issues should only cause your cat to skip two meals at most. If their avoidance of food lasts longer than this, seek veterinary care.
If my cat refuses to eat, when should I visit a vet?
If your cat has refused to eat for an extended period of time, or is exhibiting concerning behaviors or symptoms 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.