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Why is my cat not eating?

Sometimes, cats can experience eating problems to the point where they will lose their appetite and stop eating. This may be concerning and you might wonder when you furry friend needs to see a vet. Our Capitola vets provide some possible reasons your cat won't eat, and how to know when to visit a vet. 

Why won't my cat eat?

Cats are notorious for being picky eaters, and many a cat owner often becomes frustrated. They might find themselves standing in front of the store shelf, eyeing new flavors of cat food and wondering if this or that one will catch their cat's interest. 

That said, if your cat has gone 24 hours or more without eating, an underlying health issue may be the cause. 

Dental Issues 

Oral health problems can cause pain. in your cat's mouth and lead to refusal to eat. A loose or broken tooth, injury, foreign object in their mouth, inflamed gums, advanced tooth decay, periodontal disease or other dental issues can lead to significant pain, which may prompt them to stop eating. 

If you think your cat may be suffering from pain in their mouth, contact your vet as soon as possible for an appointment so this issue can be diagnosed and treated. 

After the vet examines your cat, they will then perform a thorough dental cleaning of your furry friend's teeth before diagnosing and addressing any issues that might be causing them pain. 

Gastrointestinal (GI) Problems 

Similar to humans, cats may suffer gastrointestinal (GI) issues that lead to them losing their appetite and feeling nauseated. While cats will sometimes display symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, weight loss and/or vomiting, this is not always true. 

Common GI problems in cats include:

  • Colitis
  • Cancer
  • Changes in your cat's intestinal bacteria
  • Foreign object, such as a piece of plant or plastic, in your cat's digestive tract 
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Parasites 
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Urinary obstructions

If you notice your cat has been vomiting or suffering from constipation, diarrhea, a reduced appetite or weight loss, it's time to get in touch with your vet. Gastrointestinal issues like the ones listed here are serious and your cat may require emergency care. Having these issues diagnosed and treated as soon as possible is critical to your cat's health. 

Other Potential Causes

If your cat is not eating, the cause may not be directly related to their general physical health, including:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Recent vaccinations
  • Motion sickness due to travel
  • New food
  • Change in normal routines

Any of these issues should not cause your cat to refuse more than one or two meals, or go more than 24 hours without eating. If your cat won’t eat for any longer than this, it’s time to book an appointment with a veterinarian.

If my cat is not eating, when should I see a vet?

If your cat has skipped more than one or two meals, or is exhibiting any behaviors or symptoms that are causing you concern, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Because cats can get severely sick quickly, your furry friend’s long-term health may depend on early detection, diagnosis and treatment.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your cat gone without eating for more than 24 hours, or are they displaying other concerning symptoms? Book an appointment with the veterinary team at Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital today.

New Patients Welcome

Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Capitola companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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