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My cat won't eat - is this an emergency?

You may feel concerned to learn that your cat is not eating. Does your feline friend need to see an emergency vet? Our Westport vets explain some common causes for cats to stop eating, and how to tell if your kitty's case is an emergency.  

Why won't my cat eat?

Cats are notoriously fickle eaters. Many cat owners find themselves perplexed and frustrated when they notice their cats stop eating. 

If your cat has gone 24 hours or more without eating, an underlying health issue may be to blame. 

Problems such as gastrointestinal issues, kidney disease, dental issues and more can lead to a variety of symptoms, including a drop in appetite. 

Today, we'll explore the health issues from diseases to dental problems or change in routine that may be to blame for your kitty's lack of appetite, and explain when you should see a vet to remedy the issue. 

Cat Won't Eat, Westport Vets

Gastrointestinal Issues

Like their human counterparts, cats can suffer gastrointestinal (GI) problems that may cause them to lose their appetite and feel nauseated. While this is not always the case, cats suffering from GI issues will often exhibit other symptoms such as constipation, weight loss, diarrhea and vomiting. 

Common GI issues in cats include: 

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Changes in your cat's intestinal bacteria
  • Foreign object, such as a piece of plant or plastic, in your cat's digestive tract
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
  • Urinary obstructions
  • Colitis
  • Parasites

If you notice that your cat has been losing weight, or had diarrhea, constipation or vomiting along with a reduced appetite, call your vet. 

Gastrointestinal issues including the ones listed here are serious and your cat may need emergency care. Having these issues diagnosed and treated early is critical to your cat's health. 

Kidney Disease 

A relatively common condition in older cats, kidney disease may cause your feline friend to feel nauseated, leading to refusal of food. Other symptoms include drinking an excessive amount of water or frequent urination may also appear. 

There are two forms of kidney disease we see in cats. Your vet will be able to diagnose your cat and create a treatment plan to manage this serious illness. If your senior cat (older than 7 years) is exhibiting symptoms beyond a sudden pause in eating, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. 

Dental Issues

If dental issues are bothering her, this can cause your cat to experience pain in her mouth and lead to refusal to eat. Inflamed gums, loose or broken teeth, a dental abscess, an injury or foreign object in their mouth, advanced tooth decay or other issues can cause significant pain, prompting them to stop eating.

If you suspect your cat may be suffering from mouth pain, contact your vet as soon as possible for an appointment so this issue can be diagnosed and treated.

Your vet will examine your cat, then perform a thorough dental cleaning of your four-legged friend’s teeth before diagnosing and addressing any issues that may be causing pain.

Other Potential Causes

Cats can stop eating for numerous reasons not directly related to their general physical health, including:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Recent vaccinations
  • Motion sickness due to travel
  • New food
  • Change in normal routines

Any of these issues should not cause your cat to refuse more than one or two meals. If your cat won’t eat for any longer than this, it’s time to book an appointment with a veterinarian.

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

If your cat has skipped more than one or two meals, or is exhibiting any behaviors or symptoms that are causing you concern, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Because cats can get severely sick quickly, your furry friend’s long-term health may depend on early detection, diagnosis and treatment.

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 won't eat for more than 24 hours or is exhibiting other symptoms that are concerning you, contact our Westport veterinary team right away. At Westport Veterinary Associates we are passionate about providing your pet with the care they need. 

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Westport Veterinary Associates has been providing comprehensive veterinary care for your cherished pets in Fairfield County since 1993.

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