If your cat’s appetite has changed recently, it could be due to something as simple as fussiness. However it could also be an indicator of an underlying medical problem. While the causes of appetite loss are not always serious, the physical effects of not eating can be dire. This is especially important in cats as they are prone to developing hepatic lipidosis after a period of inappetance. Hepatic lipidosis is a potentially irreversible form of liver dysfunction that appears to primarily effect the feline species

Reasons a cat stops eating

Fussiness. Cats are fussy eaters and commonly reject food that is old, stale, too cold, damp (if dry food), a different variety or if it’s in a dirty bowl or affected by ants. The solution is often as simple as replenishing the food, changing the type of food or changing the bowl.

Another food source. If you have an outdoor cat, he or she could be eating mice, birds, possums or other wildlife. They could also be accessing the food of a neighbour’s pet (or being fed by a well meaning neighbour).

Change in environment. If your cat has recently travelled, moved to a new home or been introduced to a new pet or baby, the loss of appetite could be due to stress. A vet will be able to help diagnose and treat any psychological issues that your cat may be exhibiting. Heat can also reduce a cat’s appetite – they usually start to eat again during the cooler parts of the day.

Dental problems. A cat with a loose tooth, inflamed gums, dental abscess, sore or infected mouth can stop eating virtually overnight. Bad breath is a common sign of dental issues, most of which are easily treated.

Vaccinations. If your cat’s change in appetite follows a recent vaccination, he or she could be showing a response to the vaccination. Please contact your vet support team to see if there is anything you need to do.

Illness. Medical problems such as infections, kidney failure, pancreatitis, intestinal problems and cancer can all cause a cat to stop eating.

When to act

Seek immediate treatment if:

  • Your cat has not resumed eating within 24 hours.
  • You notice any other accompanying symptoms such as lethargy, physical discomfort, behavioural changes, unusual aggression, vomiting, diarrhoea, incontinence or difficulty urinating.

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