Is It An Emergency If My Cat Won't Eat?

If your cat is suddenly not eating, it can be hard to understand why or when to take them to a vet. In this blog our Stockton vets explain some of the reasons why your cat won't eat and how to tell if they are just being stubborn or if it's an emergency situation.

Why won't my cat eat?

Cats are famous picky eaters! Many cat owners are familiar with the task of browsing the cat food isles of stores to find the right food that will make their beloved kitty more excited about eating. However, if your cat is refusing to eat for longer than 24 hours, there could be an underlying health issue.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Cats are like people and can experience gastrointestinal (GI) issues that make them feel nauseous and lose their appetite. Cats that suffer from GI problems, will often (but not always) show other symptoms such as weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.

Common GI problems in cats include:
  • Parasites
  • Foreign object, such as string, your cat's digestive tract
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Cancer
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Changes in your cat's intestinal bacteria
  • Colitis 
  • Pancreatitis 

If you notice your cat losing weight, vomiting, experiencing diarrhea or constipation as well as refusing to eat, take them to the vet. Gastrointestinal problems like the ones listed above are serious and might require emergency care. It's important for your cat's health that GI issues are diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Dental Issues

There are a many dental issues that can cause pain in your cat's mouth, making them refuse to eat. Your cat could be experiencing mouth pain due to a dental abscess, injury to the mouth caused by a foreign object, inflamed gums, a loose or broken tooth, or advanced tooth decay.

If you think your cat is experiencing mouth pain see your vet right away for a diagnosis and treatment. Your vet will thoroughly clean your cat's teeth and look for any dental issues that might be causing them pain.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is fairly common in older cats. As with GI problems, kidney disease can often cause nausea which can make cats refuse their food. Other symptoms of kidney disease in cats include frequent urination and thirst ( they will drink lots of water). There are two types of kidney disease that are common in cats, only your veterinarian will be able to diagnosis and treat this serious condition. If your cat has stopped eating and is over 7 years old, or is displaying other symptoms of kidney disease, contact your vet right away.

Other Possible Causes

Cats may refuse to eat for a range reasons not directly related to their overall health, including:
  • New food 
  • Recently receiving vaccinations
  • Anxiety / Depression
  • Change in regular routines
  • New person in the house
  • Motion sickness due to travel

Issues such as the ones we have listed above should only make your cat to skip one or two meals, no more. If your cat is refusing to eat for longer it's time to visit your vet.

When should I see a vet If my cat won't eat ?

If your cat has refused more than one or two meals, or is experiencing any symptoms or behaviors that you are concerned about, visit us at Rosemarie Pet Hospital immediately. Call us ahead if you can. Cats can become seriously ill quickly, so getting an early diagnosis and starting treatment as fast as possible is key to your cat's longterm health. 

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 isn't eating call our Stockton vets immediately.

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We can't wait to welcome you and your pet to the Rosemarie Pet Hospital family.

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(209) 957-8387