Is your feline suddenly refusing to eat their favorite food? Sniffing and walking away from the food they once meowed for hours on end? This sight can be concerning, but when it comes to cats, there could be many reasons as to why your cat is not eating food. Unlike dogs, cats are very unpredictable and hard to figure out by nature. Their mysterious mood swings are well known to every cat parent and most times are not a matter of concern. So when there is a change in your cat’s food habits, you need not worry too much as your cat could just be acting fussy. However, there are times when there could be some health issues bothering your cat that stops them from eating.
Here are some vet identified reasons behind why your cat is not eating food:
When your cat is feeling unwell, one of the first and common signs you will notice is - refusal to eat food. Dental problems, upset stomach, infection, fever or any other ailment can make your cat feel sick and lead to a loss in their appetite. Not all reasons are a grave matter of concern, but when you notice your cat not eating their food, you should speak to your vet. If your cat shows other additional symptoms like - vomiting, diarrhea, extreme lethargy or unusual behavior, you should visit your vet immediately.
Ingestion of foreign materials:
Your cat’s curious nature can sometimes lead them to eat things they’re not supposed to. Dr. Dilip Sonune, Director of Veterinary Services at Wiggles.in says “Ingestion of foreign materials can cause an obstruction in your cat’s airway or digestive tract. An obstruction makes cats throw up or leaves them unable to eat their food. If you suspect your cat has eaten something wrong, you should call your vet immediately. Sometimes this obstruction may also be caused because of hairballs. Long-haired cats are quite prone to developing hairballs, hence, grooming for cats is of utmost importance.”
Your cat may refuse to eat food due to several reasons
We know cats are very picky and choosy when it comes to their food. A cat’s food habits typically never change. But sometimes even they can get bored of their usual food and may want to try a different flavor or type of food. Try to get them excited to eat again by adding appetizing top-ups like Cocotail™, fish oil, chicken broth or meat broth to their usual food. If that doesn’t work, try switching your cat’s food with more palatable food. Make this switch gradually and slowly to not upset their stomachs. Additionally, you can opt for a diet consultation from a pet nutritionist who can prepare a customized diet chart that develops new recipes that are healthy and tasty for your cat.
Cocotail™ Healthy Drink for Dogs & Cats
Kittibles Cat Dry Food
Kittibles Kitten Dry Food
Stale food or change in food:
When was the last time you checked the date on your cat’s kibbles or wet food before feeding it to them? Many cat parents open a bag of kibbles and empty the food in an air-tight container. When you do this, it’s easy to forget the manufacturing and expiry dates. It is important to know that a cat won’t eat any food that has a sour or stale smell to it. They’re smarter than we know. Sometimes, there are changes in the production of the food from the manufacturer’s end. If your cat smells even a tad bit of difference in their food, they might refuse to eat it.
Their food has been lying around for too long:
Did you know that cats eat their food only when they can smell it? According to Greeshma Agarwal, a cat parent and a writer at Wiggles.in who buys Wiggles’ products regularly - “When you’re free-feeding your cat, the food loses its smell and freshness. This leads to your cats not eating the food even if the food bowl is full. That is why you’ll sometimes notice that a top-up of fresh food in the same bowl will get them to eat.” Additionally, the food can also become stale if it sits for more than 30 minutes in their bowl. Free-feeding has many drawbacks and is one of the common reasons for obesity in cats. It’s best to feed your cat at fixed timings and in the right proportion. Speak to your vet or nutritionist if you’re in doubt about the ideal quantity of food and timings to feed.
Lack of exercise:
Most house cats are prone to a sedentary lifestyle. The lack of activity and exercise can reduce their appetite significantly and make them not eat their food. Help your cat move their muscles, burn some calories and feel hungry! Indulge them in playful activities like chasing the mouse and climbing up the cat tree. You can even harness-train them and take them on walks. Exercising will not only make your cat feel hungry but also keep them healthy and active. Exercising is important to keep obesity, lethargy and problems that come with being unfit, at bay.
Exercising is important for your cat to stay fit and healthy
If you’re an experienced cat parent, you are well aware of your cat’s choosiness especially when it comes to their food. Sometimes, they’ll only prefer a certain kind of texture or smell of food that they’re used to. Other times, they might just refuse to eat their food out of sheer fussiness. At times like this, you should wait it out or offer them their favorite, once in a while wet food. Do not indulge their fussy behavior too much though, they might make a habit of it. Too much wet food and treats can cause problems like diabetes or an overabundance of certain vitamins.
Appetizing supplements and a more palatable diet can help your cat become interested in their food again.
If your cat is not physically ill, they could be experiencing psychological problems like anxiety, fear or depression. These emotions can occur from a change in their surroundings like - moving homes, adopting a new pet, new people in the house or traveling. In such situations, give your cat some time to acclimatize to their new environment, let them know that everything is okay by spending more time with them and they should be back to their normal self again. You can also speak to a behaviorist to learn methods that can help your cat overcome their anxiety.
Like us humans, cats also feel less hungry in summers. So during the warmer months, you will notice that your cat is eating less or sometimes skipping meals. During these months, you should take extra efforts to keep them hydrated as cats drink very little water by themselves. Introduce them to flavored drinks, offer more chicken broth, wet food and buttermilk. Additionally, you can also add a few cubes of ice in their water to keep them cool. In the winters, however, their appetite will increase and they will require high-energy food.
They're getting food from elsewhere:
Does your kitty enjoy the wild outdoors? If so, a reason your cat doesn’t eat at home could be because the little explorer is getting food from elsewhere. Indoor-outdoor cats tend to get food from the neighbors or passersby from the surrounding areas. It’s possible that your cat has even learned to hunt and is getting their meals by themselves. To make sure, follow your cat discreetly on their next stroll and see what they’ve been up to. You won’t be surprised at the long list of admirers. :)
As with us humans, once we reach our senior age, we tend to eat less and have meals earlier before our bedtime. If your cat is turning older and reaching their seniorhood, it could be a reason for their decreased appetite. Get your cat some food that is easy on the stomach and infused with prebiotics and probiotics for easier digestion. Take extra care of their health and bones by adding supplements that can support them.
Pet Pawerful™ Calcium Syrup
Allergies in cats are not uncommon and sometimes, a cat may develop an allergy/intolerance to a certain ingredient in their food (which is a protein most of the time). It may take your cat months or years to develop an allergic reaction to an ingredient. The signs of allergic reactions to food are evident. If your cat has developed an allergy they might have a mild rash, watery eyes, skin problems or stomach problems. If you have a hypoallergenic cat then you should opt for a prescribed diet or get them hypoallergenic commercial food for cats. Food allergies can last for a lifetime, the best solution is to remove the allergy-causing ingredient/food and speak to a vet or a nutritionist about a fitting diet for your cat.
Whether your cat is sick, feeling anxious or is plain fussy, please know that a complete refusal to eat food can have adverse effects on your cat. Even if your cat is on a prescribed diet, it is never a good idea to starve them. When your cat displays unusual behavior, it’s best to speak with your trusted vet.
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*Disclaimer: This blog is vet-approved and includes original content which is compiled after thorough research and authenticity by our in-house team of vets and content experts. It is always advisable to consult a veterinarian before you try any products, pet food or any kind of treatment/medicines on your pets, as each pet is unique and will respond differently.