Cat doesn't eat anymore

Katze frisst nicht mehr

Most cat owners know that cats can be picky foodies. You often have to try different types of food to find out which food the cat likes. However, if it can be observed that the cat constantly refuses food or even refuses it completely, in most cases this indicates that something is wrong. It is then important to either stimulate the cat's appetite again or to see a veterinarian.


How long can cats go without food?

Depending on how healthy a cat is and what phase of its life it is currently in, these robust animals can go without food for several hours . However, this is only possible if they have enough liquid to drink.

However, you should know: Just because cats can last a long time doesn't mean it doesn't harm them! Just 38 hours are enough to cause serious health damage to an emaciated cat's body. Depending on the cat's condition, it can also happen considerably faster. That's why you should definitely consult a veterinarian after about 24 hours of strictly refusing to eat.

This is what happens when you refuse to eat

If the cat refuses to eat , this is often a critical condition. A cat's body is not designed to store food in its stomach. In addition, it cannot produce enzymes for burning fat . However, this is not necessary for a free-living cat. The furry friends capture around 15 small birds and rodents a day. As a result, they are constantly in motion, which is why calories are almost completely used by the body and therefore no larger fat deposits can form.

However, if a cat stops eating, it quickly runs out of energy. That's why she gets tired and weak. Now a vicious circle begins, because at the same time the cat's feeling of hunger decreases. So she doesn't eat anything when she actually needs it. This is a natural protective mechanism . After all, hungry cats would run out of energy when they went hunting again. If they do not succeed in catching the prey, they are ultimately completely exhausted. This is also the reason why cats need to eat so often throughout the day.

Since cats cannot store food in their stomachs, their bodies fall back on reserves if there is no replenishment. This results in the burning of fat and muscles. If there is no protein intake for more than 38 hours, there is a lasting disruption of the balance in the liver's fat metabolism.

In addition, the liver is flooded with fats that can no longer be excreted due to a lack of enzyme supply. This ultimately leads to fatty liver disease or hepatic lipidosis . In the worst case, this causes liver failure , whereupon the cat dies from toxins that can no longer be broken down. This is particularly dangerous for well-fed or even overweight domestic cats.

Cat doesn't eat - 10 common reasons

If cats experience a loss of appetite, this is not always immediately cause for concern. However, you should not ignore this behavior and instead get to the bottom of the causes . Sometimes the refusal to eat is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting and fever . In this case, it is important to take the cat to a veterinarian and have it examined. If you understand why a cat no longer eats, you can usually help it much better.

The food is the trigger

Cats are sensitive animals. That's why they notice very quickly if something is wrong with the food. It is important to always provide them with a clean feeding place and washed bowls . Old leftover food, which may smell a bit spoiled, is hardly tolerable for sensitive cat noses and is a real appetite killer.

In addition, the following reasons can be considered if one suspects that the sudden refusal of food may have something to do with the food:

Unfamiliar food: With cats it is important to find the right balance. If you serve them the same food every day, they will quickly become bored. However, if there is too much variety, this can lead to problems. Food consistency: Cat food manufacturers sometimes change the consistency of the food slightly. However, this can cause a cat to suddenly no longer have an appetite for something that it recently enjoyed. Sensitivity to certain ingredients: Cats sometimes notice very quickly if a particular food is not good for them. Cats are particularly sensitive to some ingredients. As a result, they may instinctively avoid the product in question.


Unusual surroundings

Many cats don't like having to change places. After moving or on vacation, the cat may suddenly refuse any food. But this should stop as soon as she has settled down a bit . If the cat eats poorly for several days, it must be taken to a veterinarian.

To make the change of location a little easier for the cat, you should first give it the rest and space it needs to get used to it. Calming words and gentle caresses can also help. This shows the cat that it is not on its own and that it is not in danger.

Cat is in heat

If a female cat is in heat, food intake suddenly plays a subordinate role. Reproduction comes first. The cat eats less and is anxious to find a partner through whom she can have kittens. However, normal eating behavior should resume after the heat has ended.

During this time, giving treats and feeding the cat's favorite food can go a long way in stimulating their appetite. If the cat is in heat, you don't necessarily have to worry about the reduced food intake. However, things become critical if the cat refuses food completely . Then you should definitely consult a veterinarian.

Excessive stress is hard on your stomach

It's not just anxious cats that sometimes feel a lot of stress in unfamiliar situations. These can occur when there are new additions to the family with two or four-legged friends or a room has been newly furnished. The stress has a negative effect on the cat's appetite and can lead to it no longer touching its food or only rarely touching it.

It is then important to provide the cat with enough places to retreat . Many scratching posts, for example, have caves in which cats can temporarily hide when the stress becomes too much for them. However, you should not leave the cat completely alone and always give it undivided attention . This will make it much easier for her to get used to new situations.

Outdoor animals find food elsewhere

If you let cats outside, you give them a lot of freedom. However, this also means placing a high level of trust in them. Of course, it is possible that a cat will then help itself to the neighbors' food bowls . Accordingly, she is full when she returns home.

The reasons for this may be that the cat prefers someone else's food more than its own. Then it's important to find out which varieties she really likes so that she no longer has to go elsewhere. Alternatively, it may also make sense to have a conversation with your immediate neighbors . Of course, the people who come into consideration are those who have one or more pets themselves. It can also be stressful for these cats if a strange animal regularly steals their food. That's why we should look for a solution to the problem together.

Cat is senior

How much a cat eats also depends on its age. As cats get older, various signs of aging and illnesses increase, just like in humans. The cat's body continues to break down and becomes vulnerable. The liver, kidneys, teeth and also the thyroid are often affected. These problems should be checked by a veterinarian.

In order to encourage the cat to eat as it gets older, a change in diet may be necessary. This is because the kidneys and liver in particular lose their functionality. Then food specially developed for this purpose supports the functionality of the organs in old age.

However, you should also pay attention to whether the cat shows other symptoms in addition to the loss of appetite. For example, if she vomits frequently, this may indicate the onset of liver or kidney failure. But hyperthyroidism must also be taken into account. Due to this metabolic disorder, the cat loses weight quickly, even though it actually eats enough food.

If you suspect any of the above-mentioned diseases, you should always consult a veterinarian immediately. He can prescribe the necessary medication and redefine the choice and amount of food.

High temperatures

Many people are familiar with the problem that they have less appetite when it is very hot. This can happen to cats too. In addition, food that has been left in the heat for a long time becomes inedible for the cat more quickly. You can tell because she only smells it, but still denies it.

In summer temperatures, cats should be fed in the early morning or evening . At these times it is usually not that hot and the likelihood of the food spoiling quickly is significantly reduced. Dry food is also particularly suitable in summer, as it can stay in the bowl for a long time. However, it is particularly important that there is always enough water available for the cat to drink .

Dental problems

Toothache, gum inflammation and periodontitis can also be behind a refusal to eat. These diseases may not be apparent at first. This is often because cats are masters at hiding their symptoms. In the wild, this was absolutely necessary because it could be life-threatening for the cats if they showed signs of weakness.

For this reason, it is important to watch the cat closely . Eating behavior in particular can provide information about whether a cat is suffering from toothache or not. For example, if she holds her head to the side while eating, this often indicates that she is trying to protect one side of her mouth. But it can also happen that she shows interest in the food, but quickly spits it out or even starts to scream.

Furthermore, aggressive behavior or sensitivity to touch in the cat's mouth area may be signs of dental problems. Many cats try to touch the painful area with their paw and therefore often stroke their face. Heavy salivation and grinding of teeth also occur. If you manage to look into the cat's mouth, you should look out for red gums or tartar as well as unpleasant bad breath . If you suspect dental problems, only a veterinarian can help.

After a vaccination or surgery

If the cat has just had a vaccination or even an operation, it may initially refuse food. This is also related to the immediate stress that occurs as a result. The cat may then appear particularly tired. In many cases it is even important that a cat not eat any food immediately after treatment . It would then be wrong to actively encourage them to eat.

For this reason, refusal to eat after vaccination or surgery in cats is not a reason to be unduly concerned. It only becomes critical if this loss of appetite lasts longer than a day or if new symptoms indicate other illnesses. In such cases, a veterinarian must be consulted.

Possible diseases

Depending on the symptoms the cat is experiencing, various diseases may be considered. These often affect the abdominal cavity, areas of the upper respiratory tract as well as the mouth and throat. Possible diseases if the cat has a loss of appetite are:

  • Dental problems
  • Infection of the pancreas
  • A cold
  • allergy
  • Intestinal parasites such as roundworms
  • Kidney failure
  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • Digestive disorders such as constipation or diarrhea
  • Liver failure
  • poisoning
  • Injuries and inflammations in the mouth and throat
  • Thyroid problems
  • Infectious diseases such as FIP, FeIV and FIV

Visit the vet or wait?

If a cat doesn't eat, this is always a problem, even without any other symptoms. That's why you should never wait longer than 24 hours before visiting the vet. Old cats or those with previous illnesses in particular should be taken to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. This person can carry out detailed examinations of the oral cavity and have blood and feces examined in the laboratory. X-rays or an ultrasound examination can also provide information about some of a cat's illnesses.

Alarming symptoms

If the cat has other symptoms in addition to loss of appetite, it may be necessary to go to a veterinary practice as quickly as possible . Possible cat symptoms:

  • Loss of weight
  • shaggy and dull fur
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Fever (internal body temperature more than 39 degrees Celsius)
  • severe thirst and increased urine output
  • general weakness
  • apathetic behavior
  • 24 hours without eating

Cat doesn't eat and sleeps a lot

The fact that a cat sleeps a lot is not a cause for concern. After all, cats are known for constantly sleeping and resting . In some cases, however, it happens that a cat not only sleeps a lot, but also eats little or nothing at all. This in turn is an indication that the animal is not well. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes it's just a harmless infection. But it can also be due to poisoning or serious illness .

Old cats generally have an increased need for sleep and often also less appetite. As their activity decreases, they no longer need as much food. However, an old cat should be encouraged to eat if it no longer makes any effort to do so on its own.

Unfortunately, refusing to eat when the cat is old can also indicate that it will soon die. Many cats notice this and then retreat to sleep. Their interest in something edible gradually fades. In this case, you should pay attention to whether the cat is simply becoming more lethargic or is struggling with it.

Stimulate the cat's appetite

In many cases it is useful or even necessary to encourage a cat to eat . Appetite can be stimulated by the following things:

  • treats
  • Use of catnip
  • Warming the feed
  • Hand feeding
  • Enrich the food with treats such as tuna or chicken
  • Search and hunt games with food

Proper bowl and feeding place

In some cases, if the cat does not eat, it is related to the type of food bowl and the place where it is placed. You should choose a flat and wide feeding bowl because the cat will be able to eat well from it. However, the place where a feeding place is located is no less important. Many cats don't particularly appreciate it being near the litter box and then refuse to eat.

Alternate food

When feeding cats, it is important to find the right balance between habit and variety . The cat no longer eats or only accepts a little? Then it may make sense to use other types of food or try different variations . Cat food manufacturers often offer different types and food combinations. Even if it turns out that the cat particularly likes to eat one type of food, you should not give it long-term, otherwise it could quickly get tired of it again.