My Cat Is Acting Normal But Not Eating Much

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    Vicki Smirnova
    Vicki Smirnova

    Author: Vicki Smirnova

    Vicki S. is a professional writer and editor who adores animals and helps readers get along well with their pets. Vicki has been working in digital media for more than 5 years and has great experience writing content about lifestyle, including pets. Vicki specializes in dog health and nutrition, cat feeding, dog training. She is an aquarium lover and is passionate to write about fish care at home. Also, Vicki headed several websites and worked as a news editor.

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    Dr. Chyrle Bonk
    Dr. Chyrle Bonk

    Veterinary review
    by Dr. Chyrle Bonk

    Dr. Chyrle Bonk is an associate veterinarian since 2010 and was a volunteer for Clearwater County Youth 4H. Dr. Bonk contributed to various animal and veterinary related websites and magazines as a way to help keep animals across the globe safe and healthy. When Chyrle not working she spends her time with her own furry crew of dogs, cats, and horses.

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  • Updated on: 01/14/2021

How much or little your pet is eating can often be an indicator of how they are feeling. Therefore, it is important to notice when they are not eating much, even if they appear to be acting normal. Fortunately for you, we have designed a handy article to guide you through the process from start to finish. Remember, your cat cannot talk to you as another human being would. They cannot explicitly tell you when something is wrong. Therefore, you must learn to understand the little differences in their behavior, as well as know how to react to them.

my cat is not eating much but acting normalImage by @domepitipat from FreePik

How to tell that cat is not eating much?

Appetite problems may not be completely obvious at first, especially when your cat is acting normal in their day-to-day lives. This is especially the case if you have multiple cats in your house or if you free feed. Just because the food bowl is empty does not mean that one cat is not experiencing a reduced appetite. The things you should be on the lookout for are:

  • The cat is not eating as much as usual;
  • The cat’s weight has dropped;
  • The cat does not seem as enthusiastic when faced with treats;
  • The cat rejects food.

So, why is my cat acting normal but not eating much?

Your cat is simply not hungry

Sometimes it can be as easy as your cat is not hungry. This often comes as a result of overfeeding, meaning that you are putting so much food down for them that they simply do not need it all. The usual rule of thumb is that you should be providing between 24 and 35 calories per pound for your cat each day. If you notice that your cat is leaving behind substantial portions, you should consider reducing portion sizes.

In order to be safe, you may wish to book an appointment with your vet to rule out any psychological or physical illness. Try to reduce the portion sizes to the recommended amounts and see if your cat continues to eat. If the volume does not appear to be the problem, they may simply not like the food you are providing.

Cat does not like the food

This is often the easiest explained reason for not eating. After all, we all find it difficult to chow down on foods we simply do not like. Cats are no different. Some cats are pretty simple eaters and will consume anything you put in front of them. However, others will be very picky about what they eat, making them tricky to buy for. Believe it or not, some would rather starve than eat something they do not enjoy. Therefore, finding your cat’s favourite grub can be an adventure of trial and error. Purchase a load of different options, wet and dry, observing what they seem to like and what they don’t. The clues come in the form of how much they are eating, how quickly, and whether they leave any behind.

Cats are also known to resist changes in diet from time to time. For example, you may choose to switch up your pet’s diet in order to make them healthier in the long-term or because you think they’ll appreciate the variety. However, the opposite may in fact be true.

There are a number of things you can do to ensure that your cat is more satisfied with their daily meals. When it comes to changing their diet, one helpful tactic can be to make the change gradually. That means mixing some of the new diet food into their usual meals and slowly increasing the quantity over time until they are eventually left with the new food alone. Food should always be served warm or, at the very least, at room temperature. Cats are known to be pretty fussy about the temperature of their food. You should never lose your temper or refuse to put food down for a cat that isn’t eating much. Be patient and persistent with them through the process. If your cat is starving and you are seriously worried about its health, feed it some of its favourite foods to get it back on track. As we said before, you can then make the changes slowly from here. In terms of food quantity, you should be aiming to provide your cat with 24-35 calories per pound each day. 

Your cat is sick and may have medical problems

We all get sick from time to time and your cat is no different. Illness can often have an effect on your cat’s appetite, meaning that a sudden reduction in food consumption can indicate that something is wrong inside. Common problems can include:

  • Stomach upset – When eating causes stomach pain or discomfort, they often decrease the amount consumed or stop eating all together to avoid the discomfort. This can also often go hand-in-hand with vomiting and diarrhoea. 
  • Pain – Some cats refuse to eat because the process of eating in itself is causing them pain. They may also stop drinking water for the same reasons. This could be due to problems with their spine, jaw, posture, throat, and more.
  • Dental problems – If a cat is suffering from dental problems then eating may be uncomfortable, especially hard foods. The most common tooth problems in cats are periodontitis, gingivitis, and tooth resorption. 
  • Indigestion – If the cat is experiencing discomfort within their digestion system, they will often opt to avoid eating altogether. 
  • Senior problems;
  • Cancer;
  • Gastrointestinal issues;
  • Pancreatitis;
  • Kidney problems;
  • Infection.
cat not eating but acting normalPhoto by Lina Angelov on Unsplash

READ MORE: How to tell if my cat is sick?

Once you notice that your cat has not been eating normally for an extended period of time, you should book a vet appointment as early as possible. The vet will be able to conduct an exam and diagnostic tests that will help pinpoint the cause of the problem. At the very least, they will be able to rule out medical causes that will then lead to look at the food quality or quantity as the reason they’re not eating. 

Your cat was recently vaccinated

If your cat has recently had any form of vaccination or other injection, it may explain a sudden loss of appetite. The good news is that this is completely normal and common in cats. Vaccinations and injections are necessary in order to ensure that your pet remains fit and healthy. However, they can sometimes result in a reduced appetite for a couple of days. You should look to entice your cat with some of their favourite food during these few days. If the issue persists beyond the three-day mark, you may need to visit the vet.

Psychological stress and behavioral problems

Animals can go through periods of psychological distress for a variety of different reasons. These issues can be linked to anxiety, depression, stress, and fear. This can stem from a change in the cat’s surroundings, new people, new pets, additions to the family, new objects, a change in day-to-day routine, and much more. Essentially, any form of change that the cat is not used to can, in theory, result in some form of psychological stress. Some cats can deal with these periods of stress on their own without any impact on their diet, while others will suffer from a drop in appetite.

When dealing with psychological problems in your cat, care, patience, and time are the key ingredients. You should first need to take your cat to the vet to ensure that psychological issues are cause of their reduced appetite. The vet will take a look at your feline friend and look to rule out physical problems. Once you are sure that the problems are psychological, you can start to work towards a solution. Try to make them feel as comfortable as possible, spend time with them, get them acclimatised to any changes and help them through this tough time. 

Your cat does not like travel 

This links to the previous section on psychological stress but is definitely worth mentioning in its own breath. If you have recently moved homes or are travelling with your cat on board, you may notice a drop in their appetite. This is because changes in routine and new surroundings can cause stress in your feline friend, making them less inclined to eat. Cats also can experience motion or travel sickness in cars/trains/planes etc. They often just need time to adjust to the new surroundings or for the sickness to wear off. Looking into motion sickness medication for next time may also be a good idea. 

How to encourage your cat to eat

Like most animals, cats only stop eating when there is some kind of problem. Therefore, more often than not, in order to encourage them to eat again, the problem must first be solved. Whether it is easing your cat’s pain, finding a food they prefer, or adjusting the quantity, it is up to you to fix the issue. Thankfully, for all the information you need on getting your sick cat to eat again, you can head to our in-depth article here. 

how encourage cat to eatPhoto by @iryna_burch from FreePik

READ MORE: Cat Eye Injury


Why is my cat not eating but acting normal?

There can be a number of different reasons behind this. Cats may carry on acting as normal even if they are not eating their usual amount of food. The most common problems that lead to this are:

  • Your cat does not like the food;
  • Your cat is not hungry;
  • Your cat is sick;
  • Your cat is under psychological stress;
  • Your cat does not like to travel;
  • Your car was recently vaccinated.

Is it normal for a cat to not eat for a day?

This is not normal. If your cat rejects food for 24 hours, it could be as a result of a serious problem. Once you hit the 24-hour mark, you should look to contact the vet immediately and book an appointment.

How long can a cat go without eating much?

A cat can survive for a few days without eating anything. At this stage, you should be able to notice a visible reduction in weight and a change in behaviour. However, you should never wait three days if you notice that something might be wrong. If you realise that your cat has been rejecting food for 24 hours, call the vet immediately as it can cause serious health problems.

Why is my cat drinking a lot of water but not eating?

If your cat is drinking a lot of water but not eating, it may narrow down the cause of their drop in appetite. For example, the continuation of hydration but a reduction in food intake could indicate that your cat simply does not like its food or is not hungry. It could also mean that the cat is experiencing some dental pains that occur when it chews harder food or that they are experiencing digestive upset that creates nausea.

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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