Cats are very much creatures of habit, and although illness can depress their appetite, environmental changes can also cause them to eat less than normal, or even cause them to stop eating altogether. Whatever the reason, it is important to identify the cause of the problem quickly and look out for other behavioural changes. If the loss of appetite is associated with extended sleeping, this could indicate a more generalised illness.
If your cat is not eating, it is a good idea to check for signs of weight loss, particularly in kittens: it could be that the loss of appetite is actually due to your pet being fed by a well-meaning neighbour.
Assuming that your cat is as bright as ever, a loss of appetite could be a short-term problem, for example, something may have altered in her environment, causing a loss of appetite. Cats can be particularly fastidious about their food, and simply changing brands can be sufficient to cause some cats to lose interest in eating, particularly if you change from a costly premium brand to an economy food. Switching from a canned food, which is highly palatable, to a dried diet will cause many cats to stop eating.
It is also important to remember that dried foods represent a much more concentrated form of nutrients, so that a cat will naturally eat less of this type to food to meet its nutritional requirements.
Events in a cat’s life can also affect her appetite. For example, a thunderstorm will often put a nervous cat off eating for a short time, as may fireworks in the neighbourhood. Many cats refuse to eat at first when they are taken to a cattery, or somewhere else away from home. However, things are not always what they seem when it comes to a loss of appetite. Your pet could have found a more appealing source of food elsewhere, either from an unsuspecting neighbour who believes that a stray has adopted them, or by sneaking in through someone else’s cat flap.
Your pet may be having difficulty in eating, perhaps due to a dental problem or gum disease. There could be other causes, such as a tumour in the mouth, so arrange a veterinary check-up.
Food with a strong odour, such as pilchards in tomato sauce, can encourage a cat to start eating again. Warm food is also more palatable than cold, and pouring gravy on to food makes it more appealing to cats.
If you offer a kitten a range of different types of food early in life, rotating the changes, she will be more adaptable to changes as she grows up.
- If there is no obvious cause as to why a cat is not eating, a vet can give Vitamin B injections, and there are also special diets to assist a convalescing cat.
- Cats can survive for long periods without food. A feline survivor of a Taiwanese earthquake was rescued in December 1999, after being buried for 80 days in rubble.
- The wild ancestors of cats do not feed every day. It is quite usual for them to go hungry for long periods between kills.
- An emaciated cat is a sad sight. If your cat suffers serious weight loss alongside loss of appetite you should arrange for a check up at the vet’s.