A cat with zero appetite is not only frustrating, but also pretty worrying, too. Cats can feel "meh" about the perfectly good food right in front of them for varied reasons, from serious stress and anxiety to feelings of malaise and sickness.
Possible Health Problem
A healthy cat is going to eat her food eventually, regardless of how it tastes to her. If you notice, though, that your precious kitty hasn't eaten anything for more than a day or so, a medical condition may just be the culprit. The absence of appetite can indicate a lot of different ailments and problems in felines, including diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease or IBD, cancer, worms, dehydration, diabetes, toothache, allergies, chronic kidney failure and feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV. Appetite loss also occasionally is a side effect of vaccinations in cats. If your cat was recently immunized, you may want to consider this possibility.
A veterinary examination is an absolute must for any cat that stops eating for more than a day. Don't waste any time. Call immediately for that vet appointment. One serious possible consequence of appetite loss in cats is a medical condition called hepatic lipidosis. If your cat doesn't eat, it can trigger drops in her protein levels and ultimately, immoderate fat buildup inside of her liver. Hepatic lipidosis can bring upon liver failure in cats, and because of that requires immediate veterinary intervention. The ailment is particularly prevalent in obese felines.
Anxiety and Stress
Loss of appetite is often a red flag that a cat is suffering with emotional issues -- think anxiety and stress. Cats, just like people, are susceptible to those feelings, whether due to the sudden absence of a beloved human companion, unfamiliar guests in the home, a road trip across the nation, loneliness, a move to a larger home, household strife or anything else. If you are concerned about your pet's mental health, a veterinarian may be able to suggest appropriate anxiety-easing medications for your little one. Never offer your cat any type of medication without the prior approval of your veterinarian, however. You also may be able to manage your cat's anxiety by yourself -- by spending more time with her, playing interactive games with her and just giving her your undivided attention.
Just a Bit of Change Is Plenty
Cats are tricky creatures. On one hand, they despise and fear change and interruptions to their daily routines. On the other, they often get bored of the "same old," too. If you plan on changing up your cat's food, make the process a slow one -- you don't want to shock her palate. Start out by blending her new food into her old food, with the intention of making a full switch in the span of a couple of weeks or so. If your cat has been eating food from a specific brand for all her life, and you change it abruptly and out of nowhere, she may protest by refusing to eat. Try to avoid this from happening in the future by keeping her diet "fresh" and switching it around regularly -- perhaps between two and four times annually.
The Picky Eater Dilemma
Some cats can be rather diva-esque and picky when it comes to their food demands. They shouldn't be, as felines are inborn "survival" eaters and in outdoor environments usually eat whatever they can get their paws on. If you do indeed observe a pattern of fussy eating in your pet, it's probably a smart idea to investigate the root cause, because there's a big chance it's stress or illness-related, as indicated above. Apart from the actual taste of food, cats can sometimes be rather finicky about its presentation. If your pet sees -- or smells -- a remnant of food from yesterday in tonight's meal, she just may refuse to eat, so always keep her bowls immaculate.
- Feline Advisory Bureau: Home Management of Cat With CRF
- VetWest Animal Hospitals: Feeding a Fussy Eater
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feeding Your Cat
- ASPCA: Diarrhea
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Diarrhea
- ASPCA: Foods That Are Hazardous to Cats
- WebMD: What to Do When Your Cat Won't Eat
- Veterinary Partner: Cajole Your Cat
- WebMD: Weight Loss in Cats
- WebMD: How to Deal With a Cat That's a Picky Eater