Is Your Cat Sick Of Her Food, Or Is She Too Sick To Eat?

Posted on: 23 September 2015

If your cat opted out of eating when you served up her breakfast, your first instinct may be to shrug her off as a stereotypical finicky feline and go about your business of the day, assuming that the cat will eat when she gets hungry enough. Do not allow your cat to engage you in this potentially dangerous game of wills. Identifying whether or not your cat is ill and learning a few tips to coax her into eating can make the difference between life and death.

Declining to Dine: A Potential Symptom of Illness

Once your cat refuses a meal, you need to monitor your feline friend closely over the 24 hours that follow. A decrease in appetite should be considered a warning sign that your cat may be ill. You should be observing your cat for additional signs and symptoms of illness, including:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea or constipation
  • Changes in water intake and urinary output
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing, coughing, wheezing or nasal discharge
  • Hiding
  • Increased vocalizations
  • Limping
  • Excessive grooming of a particular spot on the body

If you notice any of these symptoms, you need to bring your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible for an evaluation.

You Can Fix Your Finicky Kitty

During the 24-hour observation period, you should deploy a few tactics to determine if the cat is simply clamoring for something more appealing. First, offer your cat a small treat of something that you know she has always loved and would never snub. If your cat accepts the treat and devours it eagerly, then you can accuse her of finicky behavior. Try these tips to coax her back to her food bowl:

  • If you feed dry food, place a teaspoon of canned food on top of the kibble.
  • If you feed canned food, warm the food in the microwave for 5 to 10 seconds to maximize the aroma of the food.
  • Switch to another flavor of the same brand and variety of your cat's usual food.
  • If you just abruptly switched your cat's diet to a weight loss food or a prescription diet to manage a medical condition, return the cat's former diet to her dish and begin a slow and gradual transition to the new diet. Over the course of a week, gradually increase the proportion of the new food while decreasing the proportion of the old food.
  • Be sure to thoroughly wash the food bowls every day to keep them free of bacteria and smelling clean and fresh to your cat.
  • If your cat is taking medication, avoid mixing it into her food.

If these methods fail and your cat still has not eaten by the end of the 24-hour period, a visit to the veterinarian must be made at that point.

Diagnosing Your Cat's Anorexia

Once your cat is presented to the veterinarian, an examination and tests will be performed to rule out potential reasons for your cat's anorexia. Tests may include:

  • Blood tests to rule out metabolic conditions, viral diseases and infection
  • Radiographs to detect bowel blockages and abdominal masses
  • Ultrasound to evaluate the health of the kidneys, liver, pancreas and other pertinent organs

Once a diagnosis is made, the appropriate treatment plan can be initiated to address your cat's problem and to jumpstart her appetite. Treatment may include a prescription of appetite stimulants. Depending upon the extent of her illness and the duration of time since she last ate a meal, hospitalization may be necessary.

Why Hunger Strikes Are Dangerous to Cats

Holding out for your cat to end the hunger strike and acquiesce to eat can put her health on slippery slope that leads straight to a potentially life-threatening illness. Hepatic lipidosis, also known as fatty liver disease, occurs when the liver, having nothing else to process because the cat is not taking in nutrients, begins to metabolize its own fat stores. Once this process has begun, cats will not eat anything at all, they lose a substantial amount of weight, their health declines rapidly and they starve to death. The only way to save these cats is to have them admitted into a hospital, where they are nourished through feeding tubes and intravenous fluid therapy, and efforts must be made to restore the liver's normal function.

When your cat snubs a meal, there are no winners in the game of waiting things out. Taking action to assess and address the reason will increase your cat's chances of chowing down once again before her health suffers detrimental consequences.

To learn more, contact an animal clinic like My Pet's Vet Clinic


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