Kitty 911: What to Do when Your Cat Won’t Eat


Although many jokes and ad campaigns have been made about the finicky kitty turning up his or her nose at most foods, it’s no laughing matter when a cat won’t eat. A loss of appetite in any animal can indicate a deeper health issue that needs to be attended to quickly.

Cats can fall victim to a variety of conditions that may cause them to stop eating. Your veterinarian will help you figure out the problem, and work with you to get your sweet kitty back on track.

Dental Problems

Pain associated with dental disease, oral tumors, injury (such as a broken tooth), or infection in the mouth can make eating too painful. Regular dental cleanings and exams should be a part of your cat’s wellness program, and can prevent future problems.

Health Issues

Pain and/or nausea from underlying health conditions can cause a cat to lose his or her appetite. Possible medical reasons why a cat is not eating can include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Colitis
  • Parasites
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Changes in the intestinal bacteria
  • Tumor/cancer

Loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and weight loss can indicate underlying illnesses. If your cat won’t eat for 24 hours or more, or is experiencing any other concerning symptoms, please give us a call or bring him or her in to see us right away.

Other Reasons a Cat Won’t Eat

Once your veterinarian has ruled out any diseases or health conditions, the next step is to determine if there are any lifestyle factors that could be contributing to your cat’s loss of appetite. There are numerous potential reasons why a cat won’t eat, including:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Recent vaccination
  • Traveling or unfamiliar surroundings
  • Changes in a familiar schedule or routine
  • The introduction of a new type or brand of food
  • Finickiness or other psychological issues

What You Can Do

Unlike humans or dogs, cats can get sick very quickly if they are not eating, so even if there are no underlying health issues it’s important to get kitty back on an eating schedule. Try the following ways to entice him or her to take a few bites:

  • Offer strong smelling food, such as tuna or sardines
  • Try different brands of food
  • Warm up the food
  • Use wet food if your cat normally eats dry kibble
  • Try hand feeding
  • Keep your cat’s food bowl clean

We welcome your questions and concerns regarding the health of your feline friend at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates. Please don’t hesitate to contact us any time!