How do I get my Sick Cat to eat?

  • By:

    Dr. Linda Simon
    Dr. Linda Simon

    Author: Dr. Linda Simon

    Dr. Linda Simon is a veterinary surgeon working with seven years of experience. She is a fellow of the British Veterinary Association and specializing in animal medicine. Also, she has been the Woman magazine resident vet for the past two years and writes a regular column for them, focusing on pets and their health.

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  • Viewed: 74

  • Updated on: 09/29/2020

Cats, much like any other animal, will only truly stop eating when there is a problem. While it is true that cats are often fussy with their food and may stick their noses up at a certain flavor or texture of cat food, a true lack of appetite which persists for more than several meal times indicates a medical issue.

Owners can sometimes worry about their cat leaving food behind on occasion but, if they maintain their weight and act otherwise normal, there may not be a cause for concern. Getting older, exercising less and hot weather can all contribute to an appetite reduction. Similarly, being fed lots of treats and human foods can also lead to a cat­­­­ who won’t chow down on their regular dinner.

how to get sick cat to eat@alenadzemidziuk / Freepik

It is usually quite obvious when a cat is unwell and has gone off their food. They will typically have accompanying signs such as lethargy and perhaps drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss.

How long can a Sick cat go without eating?

How long cats can go without eating depends on a number of factors, including their age, general health status, and whether or not they are well hydrated.

For example, kittens should not go more than a few hours without eating as they can quickly become dehydrated and develop low blood sugar.

On the other hand, healthy adults can go a day without food and not bat an eyelid.

Red flags are when cats are not able to hold down food or when they are clinically dehydrated. Dehydrated cats will have wet/tacky gums and will have low energy levels and sleep more.

READ MORE: Do runt Kittens have health problems

How do I get my Sick Cat to eat?

The key to getting your cat’s appetite to pick back up is to figure out why they have stopped eating in the first place. No amount of warm chicken and yummy broth will tempt a cat who has a raging tooth abscess and is in a lot of pain. An abrupt loss of appetite warrants a vet check-up. The cat should be checked from nose to tail, checking for more obvious causes of anorexia (the clinical term for not eating in veterinary medicine) such as dental, pancreatitis, an intestinal mass or liver disease.

A cat not eating due to pain will commonly become ravenous once the source of pain has been identified and dealt with. Similarly, those with nausea will usually respond very positively to anti-nausea medications. In some cases, such as when cats are generally feeling a bit rubbish and off their food, the vet can give an appetite stimulant. This is especially useful when cats have chronic diseases such as kidney failure and often don’t feel like eating much.

READ MORE: How to tell if your Cat is Sick

natural ways to stimulate cats appetiteImage by Daga_Roszkowska from Pixabay

Natural Ways to Stimulate my Cat’s Appetite:

As discussed above, there will be a reason why your cat isn’t emptying their bowl, and identifying the cause is the key to success. When trying to get your cat interested in their meal, here are a few tips:

  • Offer their absolute favorite foods, usually meat or fish such as chicken or pilchards.
  • Warm up the food first, which will help release its natural aromas and flavors.
  • Add some water or a salt-free broth to their meal, which will increase palatability.
  • Consider offering a high calorie, extra tasty tinned food such as Hills A/D. This food is also calorific, making it an excellent option for unwell kitties who could do with packing on the pounds.
  • Consider mashing the food up, especially if the cat has any trouble chewing or swallowing. It could even be liquidized for those with a sore mouth or oral masses.
  • Some cats will eat more if they are spoon-fed or fed from your hands (not something we should allow them to get in the habit of, but certainly fine to try for short periods!).
These measures are short-term tricks of the trade, and any cat who is not eating for a prolonged amount of time does need to be seen by a vet in case of a serious medical issue.

ThePets is an informational website that features articles written by qualified veterinarians and professional writers. You can learn more about our editorial process. When selecting food for your pet, use Pet Food Finder, and search for the clinic to treat your pet using Vet Clinics Locator.

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