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Why Won't My Cat Eat?

You may be wondering when your cat refuses to eat if you should be concerned and begin to wonder if your feline friend needs emergency veterinary care. Our Central Illinois vets share some insight into why cats may stop eating, and how to tell if your cat's case is an emergency.

Why Won't My Cat Eat?

The fact is that cats are notoriously picky eaters. Sometimes your cat will simply turn their nose up at what is being offered. If your cat has gone 24 hours or more without eating, and you haven't deviated from their normal cat food, then this may point to an underlying health issue. 

Gastrointestinal Problems

Cats can suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) issues that can cause them to lose their appetite and feel nauseated. Cats experiencing GI problems will often exhibit other symptoms such as constipation, vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss. 

Common GI problems in cats include:

  • Urinary obstructions 
  • Changes in your cat's intestinal bacteria
  • Foreign object, such as a piece of plant or plastic, stuck in your cat's digestive tract
  • Cancer
  • Parasites
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Colitis
  • Gastroenteritis

If you learn that your cat is experiencing weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, or constipation in addition to a reduced appetite, it's time to contact your vet. 

Kidney Disease

This is a relatively common condition for older cats. Kidney issues may cause your cat to feel nauseated, which may result in a refusal to eat. Other symptoms include drinking an excessive amount of water or urinating frequently.

Your vet will be able to diagnose your pet and develop a treatment plan for this serious illness. If your cat is older than 7 years of age, and is displaying symptoms beyond a pause in eating, book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Dental Issues

Inflamed gums, loose or broken teeth, a dental abscess, an injury or foreign object in their mouth, advanced tooth decay or other issues can cause significant pain, prompting them to stop eating.

If you suspect your cat may be suffering from mouth pain, contact your vet as soon as possible for an appointment so this issue can be diagnosed and treated.

Other Potential Causes

Cats can stop eating for numerous reasons not directly related to their general physical health, including:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Recent vaccinations
  • Motion sickness due to travel
  • New food
  • Change in normal routines

Any of these issues should not cause your cat to refuse more than one or two meals. If your cat continues to not eat for any longer than this, it’s time to book an appointment with a veterinarian.

When Should I See a Vet?

If your cat has skipped more than one or two meals or if you cat is exhibiting any behaviors or symptoms that are causing you concern, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Your cat can't tell you why they don't want to eat so you need to be vigilant. Their health may depend on early detection, diagnosis and treatment.

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 won't eat for more than 24 hours please contact us to book an appointment. 

Caring for Pets in Central Illinois

Pekin Veterinary Clinic is welcoming new clients to our clinic. Contact our team to book your pet's appointment.

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Contact (309) 346-1375