The influence of diet on cat health

Der Einfluss der Ernährung auf die Gesundheit der Katze

When cats don't eat

When it comes to feeding, cats often present their owners with unsolvable problems because, for inexplicable reasons, the animals stop eating the food they used to eat. Even if nothing has changed in the cat's way of life considering the owner, sometimes it's the little things that keep the cat from eating the food. Reasons for this could be changes in the recipe or the consistency of the feed, but also a negative experience in connection with feeding. All of these reasons can contribute to cats suddenly stopping eating their usual food.

Many cat owners trust that their pet will start eating again after a short time, but the longer the cat refuses the food, the less likely it is that the pet will return to the food bowl.

Causes of refusal to eat in cats

The causes of poor feed intake or even refusal to eat can be very diverse:

  • Any illness associated with fever and weakness (bite injuries, viral diseases, bacterial infections)
  • Operations and the period of convalescence (recovery)
  • Diseases of the oral mucosa or teeth (enamel defects (Forl), eosinophilic granuloma complex, gingivitis)
  • feed change
  • Stress (e.g. due to moving house, change in family circumstances, being cared for by strangers, moving in a second animal)

Features of the metabolism of cats

Cats are carnivores (flesh eaters), which means that they are dependent on food that is almost exclusively meat. They need a lot of protein for their metabolism and, in comparison, a very small proportion of carbohydrates. If too many carbohydrates are ingested through the feed, this can reduce protein digestibility (protein intake).

The proteins are not only needed to maintain muscle mass and bodily functions, the blood sugar level is also regulated with the help of the proteins. As a rule, cats eat many small portions throughout the day (and also over the night) and can also bridge short periods of hunger well.

The starvation metabolism sets in after a period of 3-5 days of starvation (food refusal), as a result of which the body attempts to synthesize alternative sources of energy by releasing fatty acids. However, this is only possible for a short period of time. Especially in overweight cats, a lot of fatty acids are mobilized and accumulate in the liver. This often leads to hepatic lipidosis.

Should a food refusal occur, additional feeding with protein-rich food is required immediately in order to ensure the supply of important nutrients.

Treatment options for food refusal in cats

If cats are not eating, wet food or liquid supplemental food is a suitable way to feed the animals, as it is easier to absorb and requires less effort when eating. If the animal is very weak, the food can be given directly into the mouth using a syringe. If the cat cannot swallow, high-calorie food can be given through a tube.