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My cat won't eat! What are my next steps?

You might be alarmed and concerned if you discover your cat has suddenly stopped eating. Should you take your kitty companion to the emergency vet clinic or wait until your vet is available? Our vets in Orlando share some common reasons why cats stop eating, and how to tell if you've got an emergency on your hands.

Why won't my cat eat?

Every cat lover knows our kitties can be picky eaters. Many a cat owner has found themselves scouring the cat food aisle for new, interesting flavors of kibble and canned food for their furry family member. 

That said, if your cat refuses to eat for more than 24 hours, an underlying health condition may be to blame. 

Gastrointestinal Issues

Similar to people, cats can experience gastrointestinal (GI) problems that cause nausea and lead to a dip in appetite. Though this will not always be the case, cats suffering from GI issues might display other symptoms such as vomiting, constipation, weight loss and diarrhea. In these cases, it's time to make an appointment with your vet.

Common GI issues in cats are:

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

Gastrointestinal issues including the ones listed above can be serious and may need emergency care. Bringing your kitty in for an exam, diagnosis and early treatment for their GI issues is vital to your cat's long-term health, and should occur as early as possible.

Kidney Disease

A common condition in older cats, kidney disease can lead to nausea, which can cause your cat to refuse food. Other symptoms include urinating more frequently than normal and drinking lots of water. 

Two types of kidney disease are common in cats. Only your vet will be able to diagnose and treat this serious disease. If you've got an older kitty (over 7 years of age) who has stopped eating or is showing signs of kidney disease, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Dental Problems

Dental problems can cause severe pain in our pets' mouths, leading them to a refusal to eat. An injury in your cat's mouth due to a dental abscess, advanced tooth decay, inflamed gums, a loose or broken tooth or a foreign object can call cause significant pain. 

If you suspect your cat might be suffering from pain in her mouth, take them to your vet as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. Your vet will thoroughly examine your pet and perform a dental cleaning of your cat's teeth before diagnosing any issues that might be causing pain. 

Other Possible Causes

Cats may refuse to eat for a number of reasons not directly related to their overall physical health, including:

  • New food
  • Depression/anxiety
  • A shift in normal routines
  • Recent vaccinations
  • Motion sickness due to travel

These issues should only cause your cat to skip two meals at most - no more. If your cat refuses to eat for any longer, it’s time for a visit to the vet.

If my cat refuses to eat, when should I visit a vet?

If your cat has skipped more than one or two meals, or is exhibiting any behaviors or symptoms you’re concerned about, contact your vet right away, or visit your nearest emergency vet clinic. Call ahead if possible.

Cats can quickly become seriously ill, making early diagnosis and treatment critical to your feline friend’s long-term health.

Is your cat refusing to eat? Our vets can help. Book an appointment with East Orlando Animal Hospital for your kitty companion. 

Caring for Pets in Orlando

Caring for Pets in Orlando

East Orlando Animal Hospital is always happy to welcome new clients to our full-service animal hospital. We look forward to meeting you and your pet!

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