Why Your Cat Might Not Be Eating: Causes, Consequences, and What To Do

Cats are complex, whimsical, capricious and sometimes quite unpredictable creatures.

Your feline pal will sometimes do things you may not fully understand and refusing to eat its delicious and once adored meals is only one of them.

So, why is your cat not eating?

Cats are carnivorous creatures by nature and they need lots of real meat products on a daily basis in order to lead a healthy lifestyle. However, apart from meat they also have a variety of other nutritional needs and need a well-balanced diet at all times.

A well-balanced diet means meat, meat, and more meat, and making sure the food you’re feeding includes all of the vitamins and amino acids she can’t produce in her own body, like Vitamin A, Taurine, and more.

Unlike us humans, your cat, especially the indoor cat, has special nutritional needs. They vary depending on your cat’s age and breed.

Your cat may be refusing to eat its food for a number of reasons, even if it’s high quality food and it’s specially manufactured for your kitty’s age and breed.

Main Reasons Why Your Cat Is Not Eating

The three main reasons are:

  1. an unfamiliar or stressful surrounding,
  2. the whimsical factor, and
  3. an illness.

But before you start stressing out on the possibility that your precious feline furball may be suffering from an illness, let’s review all of these factors in further detail.

1. New Surroundings Can Cause Cats To Lose Their Appetite

Even though they won’t miss a chance to sniff and explore every single new corner, thanks to their curiosity, cats can get easily frightened. New surroundings can be stressful and frightening even for the most curious and fearless cats out there.

The unfamiliarity of the new surroundings will create a change of scenery, which will make your cat anxious and it will take its mind off of eating while it tries to figure out what is going on, and learn how to adapt.

If you and your cat are traveling to different places that can also scare your kitty and the change of its surroundings and routine feeding time will result in a loss of appetite.

Felines are creatures of habit. This means that they should be fed at an exact time each day or night, otherwise they may refuse to eat their food. An automatic feeder can help with this, and at least ensure she’s eating at the same time every day throughout a move.

Unfamiliar people, sounds, and places play a huge role in a cat’s eating regime. Make sure your kitty is properly introduced to its new surroundings before you try to feed it and allow it to explore everything freely on its own.

2. Cats Are Extremely Whimsical By Nature

Felines can be quite unpredictable and capricious.

If your cat isn’t eating it could simply be on a whim. Seeking attention or demanding a different and tastier treat for food are the two main reasons as to why whimsical cats will refuse to eat their food.

If you’ve recently changed your kitty’s food brand and flavor it will probably stop eating. Or if you’ve been feeding it table scraps or special treats too often, it can develop a preference for just the most delicious things.

Cats can get easily adjusted to one particular brand and flavor of canned or dry food and a change of meal will result in a refusal on your kitty’s side.

If you’ve crushed vitamins and supplements in your feline pal’s bowl of food and they happen to be bitter or bland, your pet will start frowning at its bowl because of the “suspicious” stuff in it. The same goes for dirty bowls – make sure you clean them after each meal.

Speaking of bowls, cats don’t like getting their whiskers wet/pushed on, so you need to use shallow bowls.

Some cat breeds with flat faces, like the Persian for example, will need even shallower bowls than other breeds and they are best fed from a shallow plate instead of a bowl.

Last, but not least, another whimsical reason for not eating could be the fact that your kitty is simply getting fed up with eating the exact same thing each day. It happens!

3. Illnesses

Cats are delicate creatures and they can get ill as easily as a human baby.

If your cat isn’t eating and it’s not because of a stressful surrounding, a change of his or her diet, or on some other whim, then your feline pal could be sick.

Kidney failure, heart problems, intestinal diseases, cancer, and pancreatitis are the main illnesses, which could be causing the loss of appetite. Some breeds are more prone to developing these diseases than other breeds, so keep an eye out for your feline furball’s most common breed-related health issues.

If you have any reason to fear this, please take your kitty to the vet right away – even just to rule out any sickness.

Of course, your cat might not be suffering from anything serious and it could still be refusing to eat. Why?

Well, sometimes harmless and simple health-related problems could be causing it. For example, if your kitty is suffering from a toothache it will definitely stop eating.

Another reason is the built up of thick hair balls in your kitty’s intestines. If your furry pet is eating grass it will help it with the indigestible hair balls.

A recent vaccination, spraying or neutering can also lead to a sudden loss of appetite.

How to make your cat eat again?

Unlike us human beings, cats cannot go without food over long periods of time. Their bodies cannot produce various extremely important substances like Vitamin A and taurine, and they need a lot of proteins in order to lead a healthy and thriving life.

There are various ways to make your kitty eat its food.

Clean up its bowls after each meal and use shallow bowls instead of deep ones. Don’t ever mix up the medication with the food, because your cat will get the wrong idea and will stop eating altogether.

Mash up some tasty treats in the cat’s food and opt for tasteless, odorless vitamins and supplements so that your kitty-cat won’t sense them.

If you’ve kept your pet’s food in the fridge, heat it up before you serve it to her or him. Cats don’t like frozen or cold meals.

Make sure you’re serving your kitty various meals of wet and dry food so that it won’t get accustomed to only one type of cat food.

If your cat happens to be extremely whimsical, you’ll need to stock yourself up with various brands and various flavors of high quality food so that it will meet your cat’s nutritional and flavor needs.

Regardless of your cat’s age and breed you should always consult with a vet if your cat loses its appetite all of a sudden. Your feline furball’s health should never be put aside and it should always come as your priority.

Emily Parker

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

2 thoughts on “Why Your Cat Might Not Be Eating: Causes, Consequences, and What To Do”

  1. My cat is about 15 years old and will not eat. She has had exploratory surgery and no cancers just IBS. She has had a steroid shot and I am rubbing mirtazapine in her ear every 48 hours. She acts hungry and goes to the bowl where her food is and just smells and walks away.

    • Hi Pat –

      I’m sorry to hear about this!

      Have you talked to your vet about this? That’s probably the best thing to do, especially at an age like this and if she’s been given a steroid shot and/or other medications.

      It could be a side effect of the shot or something else. Or, you might need to do some other tests.

      Are you feeding the same food as always? Is it a dry or wet food?

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