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My Cat Won't Eat - Is This an Emergency?

My Cat Won't Eat - Is This an Emergency?

It's normal to worry if your cat won't eat. Our Scottsdale Ranch Animal Hospital 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 notoriously picky eaters and can decide on a whim that the fancy new cat food they loved yesterday is just not cutting it today.

One or two skipped meals (without any accompanying symptoms) are usually nothing to worry about, particularly if your cat has had any recent environmental upsets, like 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

Just like humans, cats can suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) problems that can cause nausea and a lack of appetite. Often cats suffering from GI issues will display other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or weight loss.

Gastrointestinal issues in cats can be caused from:

  • 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

Relatively common in older cats, kidney disease may cause your feline friend to feel nauseated and refuse food. Other symptoms include drinking an excessive amount of water and frequent urination. It is estimated that 1 in 12 geriatric cats suffers from kidney disease. 

If your senior cat (older than 7 years of age) is displaying any symptoms beyond a pause in eating, book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. If caught early, treatment can be effective in keeping 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 above issues won't cause your cat to refuse more than a few meals. If your cat won't eat for more than 24 hours and is experiencing any of the other symptoms mentioned above, such as vomiting or diarrhea, it is time to bring your cat 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 Scottsdale vets right away for further instructions.

Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

(480) 391-3699