If Your Cat Stops Eating

A cat that does not eat is sick. Treating the symptoms may improve the overall problem.

Posted: Wed Nov 20 00:00:00 PST 2002

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Cats that are depressed and not eating are sick and should be seen promptly by a veterinarian. These nonspecific signs are commonly caused by fever. Fevers will turn off a cat's appetite and energy. No safe over-the-counter treatment for fever is available for cats. Aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen are toxic to cats.

When examining a cat with symptoms such as a loss of appetite or depression, a veterinarian will try to localize a site of infection or location of a problem. Further diagnostic testing may be needed to assess the cat's condition. Often the cat may receive symptomatic treatment after an initial examination. This treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms and making the pet feel better. Symptomatic treatment can involve fluids, antibiotics, appetite stimulants, force-feeding or an anti-inflammatory drug.

If a cat does not respond to supportive care within a couple of days, it is vital to follow up. Cats that do not eat can develop secondary health problems, such as hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease, that can be more life threatening than the original problem if the cat's metabolic functions are compromised.

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Reader Comments

janet    bethlehem, PA

5/19/2011 4:28:53 AM

important information, thanks very much

janet    bethlehem, PA

5/7/2010 4:11:25 AM

good article thank you very much

Joyce    York, ME

2/23/2009 4:10:08 PM

I had a cat that had this problem, the onset was very sudden & she last the battle after a week of vet. care % home care. It was devesting to my & I still wonder what happened & what signs I misted or could have picked up earlier. After 11 years I'm still looking for information & answers, I worry that this might happen to the cat I have now.
Any information you have would be wonderful.

Giselle    Phoenix, AZ

11/19/2008 8:16:52 PM

I have a 12 y.o. nutered male who stopped eating and lost over 6 lbs. cause unknown. Diagnosis and treatment could cost over $1000. I took the less expensive option of force feeding him special food the vet gave me. It included a syringe. I mastered the process.

If you're right handed, put the cat on the kitchen counter with his rear under the crook of your right arm. Put your left thumb and forefinger on either side of its jaw. Hold the syringe in your right hand using your index finger to push on the plunger. As soon as you touch the cats mouth with the syringe, it'll open it. Push the plunger letting a little bit of food out and on its tongue. Allow the cat to swallow and wait till it stopsany swallowing movement and then keep feeding it. I found that about 2 oz. the first few days is best - any more he would throw it up. I also gave him diluted chicken broth about 3-4 oz. with the syringe. The vet said the yellow skin color would go away in a few weeks to a few months depending on the cause of his loss of appetite, if he responds to the force feeding. Good luck.

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