Cat not eating much but acting normal:
Cats have an instinct to conceal any illness in order to avoid being attacked or socially ostracized by other cats. It’s a great survival strategy in the wild, but it’s not very helpful to humans trying to help them.
It’s not uncommon for a cat owner to visit the vet clinic because their cat isn’t eating much but otherwise acting normally. Sometimes, as I question them further, we discover additional symptoms that were previously overlooked.
Cat not eating much but acting normal
If your cat is acting normally but isn’t eating much, our best guess is that he or she is stressed. However, there could be additional reasons for their lack of appetite.
Cats are fascinating and majestic creatures that can be demure or sassy, docile or hyperactive depending on their mood.
As cat parents, we never know what kind of cat we’ll get from day to day. Cats have their own personalities, and it can be difficult to keep up with them while they’re gallivanting around the house or sleeping in the cupboard.
We do, however, know our cats and can tell when something is wrong.
While cats may appear normal, they have an odd habit of, you know, just deciding they don’t want to eat.
Cats may refuse to eat for a variety of reasons.
There are some obvious causes, but there may be some deeper, underlying issues to be aware of.
How to Know if Your Cat Isn’t Eating.
Because many pet owners free-feed their cats and have multiple cats eating from the same food bowl, it can be difficult to tell if a cat is eating or not.
If you only have one cat, the simplest way to track their food intake is to count the number of kibbles you put in their food bowl at the start and end of the day. Alternatively, you can use a gram scale to weigh wet or dry cat food.
Compare the amount to their previous healthy food intake, or if you are unsure, check the label on the cat food container to determine how much they should be eating. However, keep in mind that the recommended amounts are frequently greater than what a sedentary house cat would consume.
If you’re really stumped, ask your vet to help you figure out how many calories your pet should be eating.
If there are multiple cats in the house, try providing an extra delicious meal to the sick cat while she is separated from the other cats. Check the amount of cat food you put in the food bowl after she has finished eating.
A longer-term solution is to use a baby scale to weigh your cat on a weekly basis. This is a critical aspect of being a good pet parent for cats who struggle to maintain their weight or have a chronic disease.
Baby scales are reasonably priced.
When you should be concerned.
Cat not eating much but acting normal: If a cat skips a meal and then resumes normal eating habits, this is usually not a cause for concern.
However, if your cat hasn’t eaten in days, you should consult a veterinarian.
Dogs can go much longer without eating than cats. When cats stop eating, they begin to expose themselves to the risk of various diseases.
You may soon find yourself needing to address more than just the original reason your cat wasn’t eating!
Not to mention that your cat is probably not feeling well and may be in pain.
If your cat isn’t eating and has gone into hiding…
Or you notice other changes in behavior…
This is usually an indication that your cat is ill and not feeling well.
Signs of an Unhealthy Cat
Now that we know what it takes to have a happy and healthy cat, let’s take a look at some warning signs that your cat is unhealthy.
Changes in your cat’s appetite or water consumption may not be cause for concern unless they persist for an extended period of time.
If your cat eats less, more, or nothing at all for more than a couple of days, and that change in appetite is accompanied by another sign, it’s time to seek veterinary help.
Cats may have days when they don’t feel well, either because they ate something they shouldn’t and have indigestion, or because they have a cold. However, there are some serious symptoms of problems that we should be aware of, especially if they persist for an extended period of time.
Felines who exhibit abrupt changes in behavior, such as aggressive outbursts or lethargy, may be reacting to changes in their environment or social structure.
Frequent vomiting, digestive issues such as constipation and diarrhea, and changes in urination can also be indicators of poor health.
If your cat has a cold, make sure their symptoms do not worsen, such as persistent coughing, difficulty breathing, or wheezing. Sneezing and eye discharge are common symptoms of a cold, but excessive amounts for an extended period of time should be considered cause for concern.
Lameness, bumps and scabs, itching, and hair loss are all signs that your cat is suffering from a medical problem.
If your cat’s loss of appetite is accompanied by weight loss, weakness, or any of the other symptoms listed above, it is a clear indication that your cat is suffering from an underlying condition.
Can a Cat Go Forever Without Eating?
When cats do not eat, their bodies mobilize fat from their bodies, which is then processed in the liver to produce energy. When a large amount of fat is mobilized in a short period of time, the liver becomes overburdened and toxic.
Overweight cats are more likely to develop a fatty liver. In some cases, this type of liver disease can begin after only 48 hours of fasting.
An otherwise healthy cat that is not overweight may be able to go for 2-3 weeks and lose up to 25% of its body weight before the liver is harmed.
Identifying the Source of Reduced Food Intake.
Cat’s appetite is lacking, but she seems healthy.
We’d all like to be able to make a diagnosis based solely on a symptom or two, but that’s rarely possible. Your veterinarian must play detective and try to piece together the puzzle for a nonverbal creature.
A thorough history is required before we can determine how best to assist your furry friend. Inform your veterinarian of any subtle changes in behavior or appearance you’ve noticed in the last few weeks to months. Take note of any new foods, treats, supplements, or medications. Inform your veterinarian if your cat has recently been exposed to any new cats.
Following that is what vets refer to as a “minimum database,” which is compiled from the results of basic testing. The following are typical basic tests:
A complete blood count is required (CBC)
Panel of blood chemistry
Ultrasound imaging and/or radiographs
Based on the history, symptoms, and results of the basic tests, your veterinarian may require additional information to rule out or confirm suspected diseases.
The cost of creating a basic database will vary greatly depending on where you live. To give you an idea of how much it will cost, I would estimate $50-$100 for a vet consultation, $300-$400 for lab testing, and another $200-$400 for radiographs.
If your cat requires a referral to a specialist or a 24-hour care facility for hospitalization, the bill may skyrocket. Make sure your care providers are aware of your financial constraints so that they can prioritize testing and care to achieve the best possible outcome.
Reasons why your cat may not be eating all of his or her food.
Your cat may be looking for alternative food sources.
Yes, your cat may be eating somewhere else.
It’s worth looking into:
Has your cat gotten into an unopened bag of cat food — or dog food — without your knowledge?
If your cat spends time outside, could he or she be catching mice or being fed by a neighbor? (Many people left food out for stray cats.)
Do you have a visitor or a child home from college who may be feeding your cat in between normal mealtimes without your knowledge?
When cats are stressed, they may eat less (or stop eating entirely).
If your cat is stressed, you may notice that he or she is hiding more and/or that there is blood in his or her urine.
While it can be difficult to predict what is causing the stress, cats can be stressed by things such as:
A relocation to a new residence
Your house is undergoing renovations.
a house guest who stays with you
There’s a new cat in the neighborhood that’s prowling around.
There is a new pet in the house.
Your travel arrangements
Is there anything going on that could be causing your cat stress?
Problems with the mouth.
There could be several things going on in your cat’s mouth:
Dental disease (also known as “periodontal disease”). The majority of adult cats have some form of dental disease. One thing you may notice is that your cat is still eating…
However, your cat’s eating habits have shifted. For example, your cat no longer wants to eat wet food (or vice versa with dry food). Some cats will begin to swallow their food whole. They give up on trying to bite into it.
This is a resorptive lesion. This indicates that there is a flaw in the enamel of one of your cat’s teeth. (It’s comparable to having a cavity.) It can be excruciatingly painful for your cat.
Trauma to your cat’s mouth or head, such as loose teeth or a cat fight injury.
Other unpleasant conditions in your cat’s mouth. Our cat veterinarians recently saw a kitten who had chewed an electrical cord. The kitten was shocked and developed mouth sores. (What a poor little thing!)
The cancer of the mouth This occurs more frequently in older cats than in younger cats. (Your cat may be drooling as well as having bad breath.)
Systemic problems (mostly in older cats).
If your cat isn’t eating as much as he used to, there could be problems in other parts of his body. Your cat could be suffering from:
Cat renal disease (also known as “cat renal disease”). Cats become pickier and don’t want to eat as much as they used to as the disease progresses.
The disease of the liver. Your cat may become nauseous and refuse to eat.
Gastro Similar to liver disease, your cat may feel nauseous and refuse to eat — or may be picky about what he or she eats.
Kidney disease is the most common of these cat diseases.
What should I do if my cat isn’t eating as much as he normally does?
If you have any concerns about your cat, we always recommend consulting with a veterinarian, but…
Assume you are not yet ready to contact a veterinarian.
Perhaps you have multiple pets in your home and aren’t sure who is eating what!
Other Signs to Look For
When I question people who have come to the clinic with a cat that isn’t eating much but is acting normally, we usually find at least a couple of other symptoms. When you see your cat every day, it’s easy to overlook minor changes that are actually significant. Examine the following list to see if any of them apply to your cat:
Crying for food but refusing to consume it
Loss of weight (use your baby scale)
dreadful coat (clumpy, dandruff, not shiny)
Thirst and urination may increase or decrease.
Poop in the litter box has decreased.
Constantly straining to have bowel movements
Stool that is hard and sometimes has blood streaks
Breath smells bad, and the saliva is thick.
Gums that are pale or yellowish in color
Sleeping more, playing less, and having difficulty jumping or walking with a stiff gait
Changes in general mood (grouchy, clingy, etc.)
The eyes appear to be different (sunken, frowning eyebrows)
Disease that has gone undiagnosed.
Of course, any disease, toxin, or trauma can eventually impair a cat’s appetite. However, depending on your cat’s age, breed, sex, lifestyle, and symptoms, your vet will want to check for a few very common things.
Urinary Tract Disease.
The urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Domestic cats are prone to kidney disease.
Chronic and acute disease are the two most common types we see in cats. The most common is chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is more likely to occur in older cats over the age of seven.
By the age of 12, most senior cats have some form of CKD. Weight loss, decreased appetite, increased thirst, and urination are all symptoms of CKD.
Urinary tract infection can affect either the bladder or the kidney(s). Cats with only a bladder infection have a lower risk of having a poor appetite than those with infected kidneys.
The pancreas is a gland located near the cat’s stomach and intestines that secretes enzymes that aid in fat digestion. When enzymes leak into the glandular tissue and begin to digest it, the pancreas becomes inflamed.
Chronic pancreatitis in cats is fairly common. Affected animals may vomit, have loose stools, or have a decreased appetite. They may also exhibit no symptoms at all.
Blood tests and imaging, including ultrasound, are used to diagnose pancreatitis.
Hepatic lipidosis, also known as fatty liver, is the most common cause of liver disease in cats (1). This can occur when a cat goes without food for any reason and too many of the cat’s body fat stores are metabolized in the liver. The fat, in effect, “clogs” the liver, interfering with its normal function.
This disease is usually secondary, which means it is caused by another disease rather than occurring on its own.
The term cholangitis/cholangiohepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver and biliary system. This is the second most common cause of feline liver disease after infection with a parasite. Typically, the cause is a bacterial infection, parasites, or an auto-immune disease.
Vomiting, a loss of appetite, soft stools, weight loss, yellowing of the skin/gums/whites of the eyes, and dark yellow urine are all symptoms of liver disease.
Blood tests, imaging, and biopsies are used to diagnose these diseases.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is common in cats and can occur concurrently with pancreatitis and cholangitis, a condition known as “triaditis.”
IBD occurs when a cat’s immune system sends too many inflammatory cells into the intestinal tract tissues. The tissue thickens and has poor nutrient absorption. IBD’s underlying cause is frequently unknown, but it could be parasites, cat food allergies, or microbiome imbalances.
IBD symptoms include vomiting, a loss of appetite, diarrhea or constipation, and weight loss. Some cats with IBD, on the other hand, do not exhibit many symptoms.
Blood tests, imaging, and biopsies are used to diagnose IBD.
Diabetes mellitus in cats occurs when there is insufficient insulin or the body’s response to insulin has stopped. “Blood sugar” or glucose from ingested food cannot enter cells without insulin.
Excess glucose in the bloodstream causes problems such as dehydration. Because they are starved for fuel, the body’s tissues begin to deteriorate.
Weight loss, increased thirst, appetite, and urination are all symptoms of this disease.
Normally, we see increased appetite and weight loss, but some animals, especially in advanced disease states, can have a decreased appetite.
The thyroid gland, which is part of the endocrine system, is located on the front of a cat’s neck. This gland produces hormones that aid in the regulation of the body’s metabolic rate.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when one or more cancerous nodules form in the thyroid gland, causing it to secrete far more thyroid hormone than the body requires. This results in a rapid metabolic rate and weight loss.
Other signs include a voracious appetite, constipation, and behavioral changes (often more grouchy). Although we typically see increased appetite, some people have a low appetite.
An overactive thyroid gland is more likely in an elderly cat over the age of ten years. Your veterinarian will make a diagnosis based on one or more blood tests.
What is the most effective appetite stimulant for cats?
All of the methods I’ve described in the preceding sections are more than adequate for dealing with your cat’s appetite issues.
In any case, if you’re still concerned about appetite stimulants, there are a few products that can help.
These appetite stimulants are specifically designed for cats and dogs. So, be afraid of the safe.
However, this does not imply that you should serve these appetizers on a regular basis. If your cat has a constant loss of appetite, it could be a sign of a hidden health problem.
So commercial appetite stimulants cannot solve that kind of problem.
These are the most effective appetite stimulants for cats.
Vetoquinol NutriCa is one of the most effective appetite stimulants. This product serves as both an appetizer and a nutritional supplement.
Vertoquinol nutrica can be used by people of all ages. This one is suitable for all ages of cats, including kittens and senior citizens.
Hartz Delectables Lickable Wet Cat Treats Bisque – A unique appetizer. Actually, it’s more of a gravy treat.
The tuna and chicken-based recipe appears to be particularly appealing to senior cats.
Lexelium Growth Boosting System – This one is from the United States. A veterinary-approved powder product.
You can use this with regular cat food. Lexelium will improve the overall health and appetite of your kittens and older cats.
How can I naturally stimulate my cat’s appetite?
To naturally increase your cat’s appetite, you must first identify the underlying cause of your cat’s non-eating behavior.
As I mentioned in the previous section, once you’ve identified and addressed your primary issue, you’ll be able to relieve your cat’s stress.
Then your cat will resume normal eating habits.
You can use homemade or commercial appetizers once or twice. That is completely natural and not an artificial step.
Some cats are obstinate!
Cats, like small children, are picky eaters and may refuse to eat for trivial reasons. They may dislike a particular food, believe it is too cold, stale, or old, or believe their bowl is dirty.
Rapid food changes, particularly for elderly cats, are unwelcome, and they are likely to reject new diets. You can encourage your cat to eat by changing the bowl, experimenting with different diets, or simply getting them into a routine they enjoy.
The bowls’ location or size
Keeping bowls near trash cans makes feeding cats unappealing. Cats may also feel threatened by other cats if they are in an environment with more than one house pet or other animals.
If you place their food bowl near other cats or pets, they believe the other pets will eat it or fight them over it. This is common in kittens and younger cats.
Put your cat’s bowl in a different area or room from other pets and even humans. Cats prefer eating or drinking from a bowl where their whiskers aren’t in contact with the bowl because of their long whiskers. Thus, shallow and wide bowls are ideal for feeding your cat.
Medication in your cat’s food or feeding bowl
Cats have a keen sense of smell and, as a result of their survival instincts, they frequently inspect their food. This is why cats will sniff any food or drink before consuming it. So, if you put medication in their food, they will most likely detect it and refuse to consume it.
There are specific treats designed to help with this. So, if your cat needs to take medication on a regular basis, you can ask your veterinarian to recommend a suitable treat.
As cats age, their metabolism slows, they have more digestive problems, and their muscles and bones wear out, among other things. As a result, elderly cats may become hesitant to eat every now and then.
These cats can also thrive on a single meal per day, so they will refuse to eat more or try new foods in general. So, sometimes a cat’s inability to eat is due to his or her age.
Inadequate sense of dehydration
Cats are sluggish drinkers who refuse to drink water unless it is placed in their bowls. They, unlike humans, are not aware when they are dehydrated. As a result, it is essential that you prepare moist homemade foods for your cat in order for him to stay hydrated.
Outdoor fountains and other open water sources also encourage pets to drink more. Cats may dislike being cleaned with water, but they will happily play in it. Find a way to make sure your cat gets enough water between and after meals.
Meals on a regular basis
Cat not eating much but acting normal: Canned cat food is particularly boring for cats. The cats will grow tired of eating the same food over time. Try to vary their diet with exciting new foods, particularly those made at home.
With occasional treats to look forward to, your cat will enjoy eating and consume more in general. Consider the cat’s age and breed when shopping for food to ensure the best quality for them. Season your cat’s food with parsley, but avoid garlic, onions, and other toxic additives.
Cat food is not approved by AAFCO.
The AAFCO website states unequivocally, “AAFCO does not approve, certify, or endorse pet foods.” AAFCO-approved pet food does not exist.” on two different websites
According to the 2019 data from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 59.5 percent of cats in the United States are overweight or obese.
We feed kibble to 82% of our pets.
Some cat foods contain less than 25% meat.
AAFCO establishes guidelines for pet food manufacturers to follow.
Here are the guidelines:
Because of the word “recipe,” Grain-Free Chicken and Peas Recipe equals 25-94.9 percent chicken and peas combined.
Because of the word “with,” Nature’s Evolutionary Diet with Chicken equals 3-24.9 percent chicken.
Because of the word “flavor,” Metabolic Weight Management Chicken Flavor = 0-2.9 percent chicken.
The last one (with less than 3% chicken) is a “prescription” diet.
4D meats are permitted in cat food.
4D meats are those that are dead, diseased, dying, or disabled.
According to AAFCO, 4D meats are permitted in cat food as long as they are heated and pressurized.
Render meats can come from feedlots, marketing barns, and even ANIMAL SHELTERS, according to a CRS Report for Congress.
Cats rely on food to stay moist.
One mouse contains roughly 70-80 percent moisture.
Kibble contains 10% moisture on average.
Cats, according to Clinical Anatomy and Physiology for Veterinary Technicians, need to drink water in mL equal to their daily calorie intake.
If your cat consumes 250 calories per day, he requires 250 mL of water per day.
8.4 oz = 250 mL
No cat will consume enough water to compensate for the difference.
Raw food is considered the best medicine by holistic veterinarians.
Bacteria can be found in all foods, including kibble.
Midwestern Pet Foods, a kibble manufacturing company, recalled over 120 products in March 2021 due to potential salmonella contamination.
Bravo, a raw pet food manufacturer, recalled 9 products in April 2021.
Kibble recalls over 120 products, with raw recalls numbering nine.
Salmonella in kibble is a much more serious problem, according to these recalls.
A raw diet consists of more than just raw meat.
Cats consume the entire prey.
This includes the following:
Meat from muscles
Each and every organ (eyes, brain, liver, kidneys, etc.)
Every bone, ligament, and cartilage
A raw diet necessitates a proper balance of meat, bones, and organs, as well as supplements to compensate for nutrient losses.
Cats are extremely sensitive to food changes.
Perhaps you tried a new cat food and your cat became ill as a result.
The cat’s digestive system becomes accustomed to processing the same foods on a daily basis.
As a result, when we introduce new foods to them “cold turkey,” it can result in GI issues.
You’ll need to transition cat food slowly.
Some fresh food is preferable to no fresh food.
If you can’t feed raw, some fresh food is preferable to none.
In the end, ANY wet food is preferable to ANY kibble. Simply because wet food contains an appropriate amount of moisture.
If kibble is your only option, your ultimate goal should be to improve its nutrition by adding more moisture and whole food supplements.
Overweight cats have a much shorter life expectancy.
Overweight or obese cats can have a life expectancy of 5 to 10 years LESS than their healthy counterparts, depending on the severity of their condition.
When you consider that the average domestic cat’s life expectancy is between 12 and 15 years, that’s a lot of life they could be missing out on!
43% of cat owners do not read food labels.
9 percent of those 43 percent cited a lack of interest in the nutritional content of their cat’s food as their reason for not reading the ingredients.
Only 55% of business owners are concerned about food quality.
When asked what was the most important factor in purchasing cat food, 80 percent said food quality was the most important factor.
One-third of cat owners feed their pets human food.
We’ll start by saying that some human foods are safe for cats to eat in moderation. However, feeding human food to your cat is generally not a good idea.
Treats (whether human food or cat treats) should account for no more than 10% of a cat’s daily calorie intake.
Human foods are typically rich and high in calories, so keep in mind that your cat only needs a fraction of the calories you do per day. Giving your cat a single piece of cheese can be the same as eating 9 pieces yourself.