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Why won't my cat eat? Is this an emergency?

It's normal to worry if your cat won't eat. Our Airport Pet Emergency Clinic vets list some common reasons why cats may stop eating, and how to tell if your cat’s case is an emergency. 

Why won't my cat eat?

Cats are notorious picky eaters, and they can decide on a whim that the fancy new cat food they loved yesterday isn't cutting it anymore.

One or two missed meals (with no accompanying symptoms) are usually nothing to worry about, especially if your cat has recently experienced any environmental disruptions, such as a move, new food, or other change in routine.

However, if your cat is experiencing any other symptoms and goes 24 hours without eating it is time to see the emergency vet. 

Below are some common issues that may be behind why your cat won't eat:

Gastrointestinal Issues

Cats, like humans, can suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) issues, which can cause nausea and loss of appetite. Cats suffering from GI issues frequently exhibit other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or weight loss.

Gastrointestinal problems in cats can be caused by:

  • A foreign object, such as a piece of plastic or plant, in your cat’s digestive tract
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
  • Parasites
  • Colitis
  • Urinary obstructions
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Changes in your cat’s intestinal bacteria

If you notice that your cat is experiencing weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation along with a reduced appetite, it’s time to call the vet.

Gastrointestinal issues can be serious and your cat may need emergency care.  Going for regular routine examinations so that any issues can be diagnosed and treated early on is critical to your cat’s health.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease, which is relatively common in older cats, can cause nausea and refusal to eat. Other symptoms include excessive drinking of water and frequent urination. It is estimated that one in every twelve geriatric cats suffers from kidney disease.

If your senior cat (older than 7 years old) exhibits any symptoms other than a pause in eating, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. If caught early, treatment can help keep your cat alive for years to come..

Dental Issues

Dental issues can cause mouth pain which could cause your cat to refuse to eat. Inflamed gums, loose or broken teeth, a dental abscess, an injury in their mouth, or advanced tooth decay could be behind your cat not eating. 

If you suspect your cat may be suffering from mouth pain, contact your vet as soon as possible for an appointment so this issue can be diagnosed and treated.

Regular dental cleaning is important to maintaining overall health and preventing the above issues. Contact us here to talk more about dental care for your cat.

Other Potential Causes

Cats can stop eating for numerous reasons not directly related to their general physical health, including:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Recent vaccinations
  • Motion sickness due to travel
  • New food
  • Change in normal routines

Typically, the issues listed above will only cause your cat to refuse a few meals. If your cat hasn't eaten in more than 24 hours and exhibits any of the other symptoms listed above, such as vomiting or diarrhea, it's time to take him to the vet.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat won't eat for more than 24 hours or is displaying other concerning symptoms, contact our Blountville vets right away for further instructions.

New Patients Welcome

Airport Pet Emergency Clinic is open weekday evenings, overnight, weekends and holidays to provide your pet with urgent care when needed. Our experienced Blountville vets are passionate about caring for companion animals.

Contact Us

Contact (423) 279-0574