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Why Your Cat Won’t Eat and What to Do – Holistapet

Are you confused about why your cat is not eating? Cats are commonly known for being picky eaters as it is. They will turn their nose up and away from that expensive wet food you bought just for them. They may even suddenly reject that yummy cat treats they were so eager for the day before! These feline habits can make it tricky to figure out what’s killing your kitty’s appetite.


Perhaps your cat is a picky eater, but a sudden loss of appetite may be a sign of a more serious health issue. You are not alone in the frustrating mission of deciphering the feline loss of appetite.



How Often Should a Cat Eat?

Your cat’s nutritional requirements change as they age. Growing kittens require three meals per day. After six months, most cats do well with being fed twice a day. Adult cats (1 year and older) who face no health issues can be fed once a day.


Cats who eat dry cat food can be left with a full bowl all day long. If you notice your cat is finishing their food very early in the day, they may be overeating. Wet food should be placed out at a scheduled time and collected afterward so your cat knows they need to eat while it’s there.


How Much Food Should a Cat Eat Per Day?

Due to the different size, age, and activity levels of individual cats, it can be hard to determine an average for how much they should eat. There are however some basic recommendations. Most sources suggest that felines need to eat between 24 and 35 calories per pound a day to stay at a healthy weight level. If you want to know exactly how much your cat should be eating a veterinarian can help you narrow it down by examining your pet.


Do Some Cats Eat More Than Others?

Younger cats need more food (per pound of bodyweight) than adult cats. Regardless of age, some cat breeds just love to eat! You may be surprised to know that some cat breeds need to be monitored to prevent overeating and packing on too much weight.


Here are some of the top cat breeds who pack quite the appetite if you’ll let them:




cat looking at food bowl



What Happens When A Cat Stops Eating

Domesticated cats are small animals, and eating is an essential part of their well-being. If your cat doesn’t get enough calories, its health can suffer. Weight loss leads to a weakened immune system, and it may amplify any illnesses your cat is facing.


When obese cats stop eating, they may immediately develop hepatic lipidosis. This disease is also known as fatty liver disease or fatty liver syndrome. With this disease, the liver is overwhelmed, trying to convert fat to energy. It will develop if the cat goes a few days without eating and can be fatal if left untreated because the liver is such a critical organ.


A cat must maintain their weight, fight off any infections, and prevent dental diseases to remain healthy. If your cat won’t eat and you start seeing weight loss, it is time to contact the vet.



Why Do Cats Stop Eating?

There are several reasons why your cat may avoid their food bowl. From picky eating to health conditions, lack of appetite strikes many cats at some point in their life. You might need to do some investigative work to discover the cause of your cat’s food aversion.


Here are some common issues that lead to a loss of appetite:


  • Diet changes
  • Spoiled food
  • New environments
  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Sensory issues
  • Medications or Vaccinations
  • Pain


As you can see, felines stop eating for various reasons. Let’s take a more in-depth look at these causes to determine why your cat is rejecting its food.






Why Is My Cat Not Eating?

So, you’ve noticed the food dish is still full at the end of the day. It’s apparent that your cat isn’t eating, so you need to take the next step and figure out why. You’ll need to consider your cat’s diet, health, environment – all these factors can affect their appetite.



Your cat will want to eat the same food out of habit. They often resist change, so if you recently changed their food, it is likely that your cat will avoid it. Don’t worry, even the most stubborn kitties will eventually get hungry and stop resisting the new flavor or texture. If they go without eating for more than one day, you should check out if there could be another cause.


Whisker Fatigue

Specialists still aren’t sure if a cat’s sensitive whiskers, more formally known as vibrissae, play a role in a cat’s loss of appetite. Some experts believe that when the whiskers make continual or repetitive contact with a food bowl, it may bother a cat and lead them to avoid eating. Eventually, the cat may stop eating to avoid the uncomfortable sensation.



Was your pet recently vaccinated? If so it could be experiencing a temporary side effect. Loss of appetite is a common side effect of certain vaccinations and some medications. If you suspect this to be the issue you should call your vet. Let them know your cat is having a reaction and they will instruct you on what to do.



Cats are very in tune with their location or “domain,” and they may go on a hunger strike when an environmental stressor enters the mix. Some stressors include moving to a new environment or welcoming new members to the house. Even the presence of guests can cause your cat to stop eating! If your cat has recently experienced a change in their regular environment, it could be affecting their appetite.



Many health conditions cause your cat to lose their appetite. Different diseases can cause a lot of stress on your cat’s body, which may lead to a loss of appetite, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss.


These specific conditions can decrease your cat’s appetite:


  • Dental disease, tooth decay, or pain
  • Constipation
  • Kidney disease
  • Hepatic lipidosis (liver disease)
  • Pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas)
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Significant life changes or stress



Cats can experience pain for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes the pain can be from an illness or it can be from an injury and instinctually cats are known to hide pain very well. Therefore it can be hard for owners to tell if their cat is suffering from pain.


Sometimes a cat will be in so much pain that they lose the urge to eat! If you know your cat has recently injured itself or suspect they have a painful illness it could be the reason they’re not eating. If you’re unsure you should take your feline to the vet.


Stress and Anxiety

Have you ever had stress or anxiety ruin your appetite? Well, unfortunately, the same thing can happen to your cat. There are many things that can stress out felines, such as lack of interaction, not enough exercise, or a new pet or human in the house. If your cat is stressed it may let you know by not eating!


Spoiled Food

This one is pretty easy to figure out. A cat will be repulsed if you try to feed it some rancid food. If your cat all suddenly rejects its meal one of the first things you can do is check the expiration date to make sure it is still good.


Your cat may go without eating for a meal or two, and that’s okay. However, if the behavior persists, it may be wise to track your cat’s habits and to figure out the cause of this change.



cat on table smelling meat



Cat Not Eating – When to Go to the Vet?

First things first, make a visit to your vet if your cat has gone more than a few days without eating. If your cat’s loss of appetite is a new issue, you should still check in with your vet so they can help you figure out the cause. If you see that your cat has stopped eating and is suffering from significant changes to their teeth or gums, it’s time to go to the vet. Dental diseases can occur on one side of their mouth, so keep an eye out for a loss of appetite and slow chewing on only one side of the mouth.


As mentioned before, an obese cat who has stopped eating for more than a day or two should get help immediately from a vet. The vet needs to rule out hepatic lipidosis, as this can be fatal for your cat. If your cat has any previous or known conditions, speak to your vet of any changes or problems. Remember, illnesses can only be diagnosed by a vet. If you see your cat is not eating, take note of any other symptoms and describe them to the vet should you need to make a visit.



Cat Not Eating – Treatment & Prevention

If your cat has only refused one or two meals so far, you may be able to treat the cause at home. There are many types of appetite enhancers readily available for your cat to try. You can even choose how you would like your cat to consume them.


Tips for Getting Your Cat to Eat

There are several ways to get your cat to eat its food. They require little effort on your part, and your feline friend will appreciate the extra TLC. In some cases, trying something new will make all the difference.


Your cat will definitely want to eat once you’ve tempted their appetite with these tricks:


  • If you haven’t already, try giving them some canned wet food. The stinkier, the better. Your cat will want to eat anytime they see the can of food come out!
  • Heat it up. Wet food can be lightly heated to keep things interesting.
  • Top it with a bone broth to add flavor.
  • Add some dry food to the wet food for an excellent crunchy addition to the meal.
  • Sprinkle some parmesan cheese for a special touch
  • Sprinkling some nutritional yeast powder will add a nutty, cheesy flavor. Many cats go crazy for this powder that is rich in B vitamins.
  • There are probiotics that you can also sprinkle on cat food that works great as an appetite enhancer. Cats also get the added benefit of a probiotic to promote good health.
  • You can try drizzling some of the water from a can of tuna or anchovies on their dry food (some salmon oil may also entice them).



If your cat suddenly turns away from their food, CBD products may save the day. CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in the hemp plant. It may promote internal balance by enhancing their endocannabinoid system (ECS). When your cat’s ECS is running smoothly like it should, they may be more inclined to eat.


HolistaPet offers all-natural, organic products that support your kitty’s wellbeing. Our products don’t include any GMOs, gluten, or non-vegan ingredients. You can try our tinctures, capsules, treats, and even catnip sprays!



Final Thoughts

We know your cat’s health is a priority. It can be disheartening to see your friend suddenly lose interest in one of the things they’re supposed to look forward to daily. Sudden changes in appetite may be a sign to try a new food or get help from a vet.


No one knows your cat better than you. If something seems off and it’s been a few days or observed other problems, your cat may be more than just a picky eater. Whatever the cause, getting your cat to eat again is essential to get back to the things that matter, like enjoying some catnip or chasing a laser! Continue learning about different cat breeds here.


READ NEXT: Cat Dental Care: The Complete Oral Hygiene Guide for Felines

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