8 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Not Eating

cat by its food bowl

A cat that decides to quit eating all of a sudden frequently indicates a more serious issue. Usually, it's not because a cat has lost interest in a particular treat. You should take action if your cat isn't eating, has missed multiple meals, or has gone several days without food. There may be home remedies you may try to encourage your cat to eat again, but occasionally veterinarian treatment is required.

Why It's a Problem If Your Cat Stops Eating

Although your cat may not enjoy the food you are giving it, a lack of appetite is frequently a sign of a deeper problem. If your cat has anything lodged in its stomach or intestines, isn't feeling well due to an underlying illness, or has an infection, it may stop eating. Alternatively, your cat could not enjoy the food you're providing. Lack of appetite in your cat may sometimes be a sign of pain or discomfort. Whatever the cause, it's really concerning if your cat stops eating.

If your cat is overweight and has stopped eating, a few days without food won't take long for it to develop hepatic lipidosis. If neglected, this condition, also known as fatty liver disease or fatty liver syndrome, can be deadly. This is the major justification for why it's crucial to ensure that your cat continues to eat, especially if it's overweight. When a person has fatty liver disease, their liver struggles to break down fat for energy. The liver becomes overloaded with fat, which impairs liver function. Without prompt treatment from your veterinarian, your cat may experience weakness, lethargy, and jaundice because the liver is such a vital organ.

Health Issues That Cause a Cat to Stop Eating

Respiratory Diseases

The capacity to breathe or your cat's sense of smell may be affected by respiratory issues, which might cause your cat to lose appetite. Your cat may have a brief loss or limitation of sight or scent due to upper respiratory illnesses that cause secretions to clog its nose and eyes. Diseases of the lower respiratory tract may impair your cat's lungs, making it harder for it to breathe. These respiratory problems might be simple bacterial or viral infections that just need simple treatment, or they could be as complex as cancer. No matter how severe the respiratory problem is, if the illness prevents your cat from being able to smell or breathe freely, it may decide it doesn't want to eat.

Digestive System Diseases

Your cat may stop eating if there are issues with its stomach, intestines, pancreas, or other digestive system components. Along with digestion problems, your cat may also vomit, have diarrhea, or have belly pain. But often, one of the first indications of a digestive system issue would be a drop in appetite. Problems can include acid reflux, tumors, an unbalanced bacterial population in the intestines, parasites, irritable bowel syndrome, and other things.

Foreign Bodies

Some cats like eating forbidden items, while others may swallow hairballs, all of which can cause them to get trapped in their stomachs or intestines. A gastrointestinal blockage, also known as a GI obstruction, is a foreign body that has been lodged in the digestive system of your cat. Your cat may vomit and most likely stop eating if there is a GI blockage, which prevents food from passing through the digestive tract. While some foreign things can pass through your cat's system and cause GI irritation or temporary loss of appetite, others might need to be surgically removed.

Dental Disease

Your cat may stop eating if their teeth or gums are infected or uncomfortable. Cats can encounter a variety of dental problems that result in mouth discomfort, including tooth fractures, resorptive lesions on the teeth, gum inflammation, dental abscesses, and more. Your cat might not want to eat if its mouth aches, just like people do. However, a cat's dental problems could be challenging to identify, so your veterinarian might need to sedate or anesthetize your pet to assess the condition.

Food Issues That Cause a Cat to Stop Eating

Food Flavor

Cats are sometimes picky. A cat may consume one flavor of the same brand yet, out of choice, entirely reject a different taste. If food producers alter tastes and ingredients without clearly labeling the container, your cat can detect and reject the food all of a sudden.

Food Shape or Texture

When it comes to food, your cat may be sensitive to particular forms and textures. Some cats like triangular shapes, while others prefer rounded forms, and yet others will only eat canned or crunchy dry food.

Food Spoilage

Your cat might not want to consume food that is rotten or that is over its expiration date. Verify the food's expiration date. Alternatively, at the absolute least, take a whiff to see if it smells bad.


Did you realize that dry cat food might go bad or get rancid? If the meal isn't properly preserved, the vitamins and lipids may deteriorate. Food should always be stored in its original packaging. A unique barrier within the bag can keep the food fresher for longer. Put the original bag in a sealed container and keep it in a cold, dry location to ensure the food stays as fresh as possible.

How to Get Your Cat to Eat

Check to see if there is a recall on that specific food if your cat has stopped eating its regular food. Another compelling argument in favor of keeping dry cat food in the original bag is the ability to scan the bar code. A cat may occasionally refuse to consume its food if they detect a problem with it.

You might be able to get your cat to resume eating depending on the cause of the dietary change. It's not typical for cats to stop eating, even if their diet hasn't changed, thus a visit to your veterinarian is advised to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

  • If an upper respiratory disease has caused your cat to be congested and unable to smell its food, your vet may recommend at-home treatment to help clear your cat’s nasal passages. This may involve nebulizing your cat in a steamy bathroom or placing saline drops in its nostrils. This breaks up the nasal discharge and helps your cat breathe easily so it can once again smell its food.
  • Tweak your cat's wet food to entice it to eat again. Try heating up cold wet cat food or for a few seconds in the microwave. Or, offer your cat canned kitten food, canned tuna, or canned chicken to whet your pet's appetite.
  • Experiment by a different flavor, texture, or shape of food to feed your cat.
  • Make cat food from scratch. Your cat may prefer the fresher ingredients in a home-prepared recipe. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before offering a home-cooked diet to ensure that it is properly prepared and not lacking essential nutrients. 
  • Check to see if the flavor of the food your cat has always eaten has recently changed its formula or The information may be listed on the packaging as "new and improved flavor." Or, contact the food company and ask. You may need to find a new favorite food for your cat.


Give vitamin B12 to your cat. Cats with digestive problems frequently have low levels of this nutrient. There are over-the-counter oral formulations made specifically for cats, as well as injections that your doctor could give. It's a risk-free, water-soluble vitamin that can make your cat hungrier.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.


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