You might feel alarmed to discover that your cat has suddenly ceased eating. Deciding whether your four-legged companion requires an emergency vet clinic visit can pose a challenge. Our O’Fallon vets outline common reasons cats stop eating and offer guidance on determining whether it is an emergency.

Why would my cat stop eating?

Cats exhibit picky eating habits! Countless cat owners scan pet food shelves in search of new, interesting flavors of canned food and kibble that their furry friends will love.

However, if your cat refuses to eat for more than 24 hours, an underlying health issue may be the culprit.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease, a relatively common condition in older cats, may cause your fluffy friend to feel nauseated and refuse to eat. Other symptoms include increased water intake and frequent urination.

Two common forms of kidney disease affect cats. Your vet is the only one who can diagnose and treat this serious condition. If your older cat, aged over 7 years, has stopped eating or is showing other symptoms of kidney disease, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Dental Issues

A number of dental issues can cause your cat to experience pain in their mouth, resulting in a refusal to eat. An injury in their mouth caused by a foreign object, dental abscess, inflamed gums, advanced tooth decay, or loose or broken teeth can all cause significant pain.

If you suspect your cat is suffering from pain in his mouth, take him to your vet as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. After he's examined, your vet can thoroughly clean your cat's teeth and diagnose any issues that may be causing pain.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Just like humans, cats can experience nausea and a decrease in appetite due to gastrointestinal (GI) problems. Cats with GI issues often (though not always) exhibit additional symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and weight loss.

Common GI issues in cats include:

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

It's time to see your vet if you notice that your cat is experiencing weight loss, diarrhea, constipation or vomiting, and losing her appetite.

Gastrointestinal issues, including the ones listed above, are serious and may warrant emergency care. Getting a diagnosis and early treatment for these GI issues is important for your cat's health, and should be done as early as possible.

Other Possible Causes

Cats may refuse to eat for a number of reasons not directly related to their overall physical health, including:

  • New food
  • Depression/anxiety
  • The shift in normal routines
  • Recent vaccinations
  • Motion sickness due to travel

These issues should only cause your cat to skip two meals at most - no more. If your cat refuses to eat for any longer, it's time for a visit to the vet.

If my cat refuses to eat, when should I visit a vet?

If your cat has missed more than one or two meals or is showing any concerning behaviors or symptoms, don't hesitate to visit our emergency vet office in O’Fallon immediately. If possible, call ahead.

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for your cat's long-term health since they can rapidly deteriorate when seriously ill.

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 and is experiencing concerning symptoms contact our O’Fallon vets right away.