What to Do When Your Cat Won’t Eat?

What to do when your cat won't eat?

It’s been a few days since you’ve seen your cat eat, and you’re really starting to worry. You’ve tried everything — you’ve coaxed your cat with tuna juice and chicken broth, but your cat won’t eat. What should you do when your cat has stopped eating? 

Although cats are notoriously finicky when it comes to mealtime, it’s nonetheless stressful when your cat isn’t eating. Below, we’ll help you learn how to tell the difference between picky eating and more serious, life-threatening conditions so you can get the proper care and treatment for your feline friend.

Reasons Why a Cat Won’t Eat

If your cat isn’t eating, the first thing to do is evaluate whether it’s environmental factors or potentially a more serious condition that’s causing your cat not to eat. Some common reasons for a cat not eating include the following:


This is the big one! Cats can become ill for many different reasons, including (but not limited to) dental issues, kidney failure, pancreatitis, cancer, infections, or intestinal problems. Basically, all the sorts of reasons a human might become sick as well! Loss of appetite is one of the first clues that something isn’t right with your cat’s health, so be sure to take note of any sudden changes in your cat’s eating habits.

Environmental Reasons 

Your cat may not want to eat because her environment has changed in some way; for instance, the introduction of a new baby or pet. This can cause stress, anxiety, and even depression for your cat. So, make sure you’re giving your cat adequate space while also offering affection and attention as you normally would.

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If you’re traveling with your pet or moving across the country, this can also cause your cat to stop eating. Pay attention to whether your cat begins eating again once you have settled into your vacation spot or new home.

Recent Vaccination

If your cat recently had vaccinations, it’s possible he’ll experience side effects that cause your cat to stop eating. If your cat isn’t eating initially but begins to show interest in food again shortly thereafter, there may not be cause for concern.

Recent Change in Food

Cats are notoriously picky eaters, which makes changing their food a herculean task! If you’ve recently switched up their dinner, they may be turning up their nose at it. Make sure to properly introduce your cat to a change in food by slowly changing it up – rather than immediately putting a new brand in front of their nose.

What Can You Do When Your Cat Won’t Eat?

Firstly – always remember that loss of appetite can be a sign of a serious disease. If you are at all worried – the safest option is always to speak to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

A cat that refuses to eat can suffer from complications down the road, even us humans need to have food to survive! So, it’s important to keep your cat well-fed, even if they are being picky. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Make sure there is food available at scheduled mealtimes; you can also consider leaving food out at all times (make sure it’s away from other pets who might eat it!)
  • Try a different brand, flavor, or texture of food
  • Add a spoonful of wet food to dry food
  • Offer treats in addition to the regular meal; you can also offer food as rewards for desired behaviors
  • Check their water bowl regularly for freshness and refill it if needed (they need fresh, clean water)

When to Seek Veterinary Advice

A veterinarian will be able to perform a physical exam and other tests in order to determine if there is an underlying medical condition or disease causing your cat not to eat. 

If your pet is losing weight, lethargic, vomiting, or has diarrhea or constipation, then they should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. If they are depressed and do not seem interested in food, then this may also indicate that something serious has happened that needs addressing urgently by their vet.

Questions to Ask Yourself

If your cat won’t eat, in addition to speaking to a vet you can ask yourself a few questions. Consider the following: 

  • What’s changed? Think about anything that is new in your cat’s environment. Whether it’s a new home, a new family member or roommate, new smells, or even new noises, any changes can cause distress for your cat and cause her not to eat.
  • Has the routine changed? Changes to the brand of food, frequency of feedings, or other shifts in the normal routine could cause your cat to stop eating.
  • Is it possible there’s an allergic reaction or illness at play? In some cases, a change in diet can cause an allergic reaction or digestive upset, or there may be an underlying medical condition. Your vet can help you identify if this is the case by running tests on your pet; they can also recommend the best diet and treatment for your cat. 
  • Is there a medical issue? If your cat isn’t eating, it can be a sign of illness, injury, or even old age. If you suspect your cat is sick, take them to the vet right away. They may need medicine or antibiotics to help them feel better and recover from their illness.


In most cases, cats are not demanding creatures. They’re happy to eat when they’re hungry and are fairly independent. So, if your cat stopped eating or is eating less than usual, then it’s important to take note of the possible reasons. Again – the safest option is always to speak to a vet. Your cat’s reluctance to eat can be due to something as simple as environmental change or as complex as illness. He may be stressed or upset by a recent move, a family member absence, a new kitten in the house, or other potential stressors. Your cat could also have a medical issue or a disease that makes it difficult for him to eat his food.

If you have questions about why your cat won’t eat, feel free to book a consultation with one of our experienced, licensed veterinarians.

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