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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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What To Do When Your Cat Won't Eat

It’s not unusual for some cats to clear their plate as soon as you put it down, while others may graze on their food throughout the day. Cats naturally prefer to eat small, frequent meals, eating as often as 10-20 times per day. When your cat’s plate goes completely untouched, though, it’s often a sign that they’re not feeling well.

If your cat has completely stopped eating, the reason might be:

  • A painful dental issue.
  • Food that has spoiled or gone stale.
  • A gastric blockage from a foreign object or a hairball.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Respiratory infection.
  • Environmental stress, such as a new cat in your home.
  • A simple disinterest in their food.
    • How To Pique Your Cat’s Appetite
      Getting your cat to eat can be as simple as adding extra flavor to their regular food. Keep in mind that cats need moisture in their diet to stay healthy, as they rarely drink enough water to stay adequately hydrated while eating a dry diet. So the addition of canned food, fresh meat, eggs, or tuna is more so a necessity than a way to “spoil” your cat.

      Fish oil supplements are a good appetite enhancer for many cats. Not only do they support joint and cognitive health in seniors, they also fight inflammation and hairballs in cats of all ages.

      Probiotic supplements also tend to make your cat’s food more appetizing while helping to balance their gastrointestinal health.

      Hepatic Lipidosis In Cats Who Won’t Eat
      As with most mammals, when your cat goes a few days without eating, their body will break down the fat stores on their body and convert it into energy. Cats are unique in that this process has a tendency to overwhelm their liver, leading to an acute condition called hepatic lipidosis.

      Hepatic Lipidosis, or fatty liver, can make your cat quite ill and requires hospitalization. Symptoms of fatty liver include lethargy, drooling, jaundiced gums, and nausea. Cats with hepatic lipidosis typically remain unable to eat and may require a feeding tube. Fortunately, with treatment, the prognosis is usually good, and your cat can be expected to make a full recovery.

      Cats can develop hepatic lipidosis after not eating for as short a period of time as 2-7 days. Obese and diabetic cats are especially prone to it and may develop the condition after losing weight too quickly, even if they haven’t completely stopped eating.

      If your cat won’t eat all day, don’t delay a call to your veterinarian. The longer your cat goes without eating, the greater their chances for developing hepatic lipidosis.