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Pet Eating Problems - Why Won't My Cat Eat?

Cats have earned a reputation as picky eaters. So, when they refuse to eat, it can be challenging to find out why. Here are a few reasons your cat may not be eating and when this should be considered an emergency for our St. Louis vets to treat. 

Why is My Cat Not Eating?

Many a concerned pet owner has walked through our doors asking, "My cat won't eat. What should I do?". 

A cat may refuse to eat for numerous reasons, ranging from simply disliking their food to suffering from pain or discomfort. Pinpointing the cause of why your cat has stopped eating can be a challenging, even frustrating experience. 

If your kitty skips one or two meals but then returns to eating normally, you likely don't have anything to worry about. On the other hand, if your cat or kitten stops eating for more than a day, an underlying health issue may be causing their discomfort. 

Less Concerning Reasons Your Cat May Not Be Eating 

Here are some less serious reasons your cat may be suffering from a lack of appetite: 

  • Recent vaccinations
  • New food 
  • Change in regular routine
  • Motion sickness following travel 
  • Stranger in the house (person or animal)

If any of the circumstances above apply to your cat, you may well find that they start eating again within 24 hours and gradually return to their normal habits.

We recommend bringing your cat in for emergency veterinary care if they refuse food for more than a day. Where your four-legged friend's health is concerned, it's often better to err on the side of caution. 

More Serious Reasons Your Cat May Not Be Eating 

GI Trouble

Foreign objects trapped in the intestinal tract, parasites, pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, colitis, cancer, urinary obstruction, or changes in gut intestinal bacteria all constitute common gastrointestinal (GI) problems. 

These issues can cause your cat to feel nauseated and to experience a distinct loss of appetite. If your cat is experiencing gastrointestinal issues, they may show other symptoms as well, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. 

If your cat is showing signs of a GI issue, it's time to see your vet. Gastrointestinal problems such as those listed above are serious and may require emergency care, early diagnosis and treatment are key.

Kidney disease, like GI issues, can cause your pet to feel nauseous and refuse to eat. If your cat is suffering from kidney disease, you may notice other symptoms like drinking large amounts of water and frequent urination. Kidney disease is quite common in cats over the age of 7.

Kidney disease can only be diagnosed and treated by your primary vet. If your cat has stopped eating and is showing other symptoms of kidney disease, contact your veterinarian to book an appointment.  

Dental Health Issues

Similar to people, mouth infections and tooth decay can be quite painful for our feline friends. Pain due to inflamed gums, broken or loose teeth, tooth decay, or an injury to the inside of the mouth caused by a foreign object may be causing your cat to avoid food. 

If you suspect your cat may be suffering from mouth pain, it's time to call your vet. Your St. Louis vet can clean your cat's teeth and perform a thorough examination of your cat's mouth to check for any oral health problems. 

Our Emergency Services

We offer dedicated emergency services at each of our clinic locations. You'll find quality, compassionate care at both clinics. While our O'Fallon location provides emergency care 24 hours, 7 days a week, our Kirkwood location's hours can be found on our emergency page. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Is your cat refusing to eat and causing you to become concerned? This may be a veterinary emergency. Contact our St. Louis vets at either of our locations right away.

Compassionate Emergency Care for Pets

Animal Emergency Clinic is an after-hours emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs from St. Louis and surrounding areas. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

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