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What is Anorexia?

Anorexia can be categorized into two types: true anorexia and pseudo-anorexia. True anorexia describes a cat that does not want to eat and won’t, whereas pseudo-anorexia describes a cat that wants to eat but cannot due to complications. Disease, tumors, inflammation, and pain are common causes of anorexia in cats. A cat that has stopped eating for any reason is considered to be in an emergency situation, as starvation quickly causes life-threatening hepatic lipidosis in felines.

Anorexia in cats is the term used to describe a sustained partial or complete loss of appetite. Your feline may appear uninterested in her food or she could try to eat, but leaves the food bowl soon after. Anorexia is not a disease in itself, but rather a clinical sign of an underlying disease or health complication. Anorexia can be the result of pain, cancer, systemic disease, and abnormalities with the structures that occupy the mouth. Detection of anorexia at home might include the unwillingness to eat, dramatic weight loss and hiding around the home. 

Anorexia Average Cost

From 340 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Anorexia in Cats

Anorexia can cause a wide variety of symptoms in cats that may be primarily linked to anorexia or an underlying disease. The symptoms could worsen over time or suddenly in conjunction to a high-stress situation. Clinical signs that a cat owner may be able to detect at home include: 

  • Weakness
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Weight loss
  • Icterus (yellowing of the skin)
  • Hiding 
  • Spending more time with the owner than usual
  • Depression 
  • Unwillingness to become active 
  • Lethargy
  • Excesses salivation 
  • Partial loss of appetite 
  • Complete loss of appetite 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting 

Types 

True Anorexia

True anorexia describes a cat that does not want to eat and refuses to eat.

Pseudo-anorexia 

Pseudo-anorexia describes a cat that wants to eat, but is not able to eat.

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Causes of Anorexia in Cats

Causes of true anorexia include:

 

  • Side effect of medications
  • High environmental temperatures
  • Nausea 
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Intestinal ulcer
  • Gastrointestinal blockage
  • Cancer
  • Pain
  • Loss of the ability to smell 
  • Immune disease or imbalance
  • Poison exposure
  • Stress
  • Change of environment 
  • Change in food 
  • Systemic disease 

 

Causes of pseudo-anorexia include:

  • Pain
  • Tumors of the throat, tongue or mouth
  • Cancer
  • Damaged nerves that control swallowing or chewing 
  • Disease of the salivary glands
  • Temporomandibular joint pain (lower jaw pain)
  • Mastication muscle pain (chewing muscles) 
  • Eye abscess 
  • Periodontal disease 
  • Esophagitis 
  • Gingivitis
  • Stomatitis 
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Diagnosis of Anorexia in Cats

The diagnosis of anorexia in cats will begin with a differential diagnosis between true and pseudo-anorexia. It is at this time the veterinarian will ask you about your feline behavior, focusing on her interest in food. The doctor will then review the cat’s medical history and conduct a thorough physical exam to reveal the presence of any irregularities that would prevent the cat from eating as usual. If the presence of an abnormality is unavailable, the veterinarian will choose to perform a variety of diagnostic tests including: 

  • Blood work, including a complete blood count, coagulation profile, and serum chemistry profile
  • Blood pressure analysis 
  • Thyroid testing  
  • Urinalysis, focusing on evaluating the kidneys through the evidence of increased bilirubin
  • Abdomen and chest ultrasound
  • X-rays 
  • An endoscopy 
  • FeLV testing 
  • FIV testing 
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Treatment of Anorexia in Cats

Treatment of anorexia in cats focuses on treating the underlying condition that was found during diagnostic procedures. However, the veterinarian may provide supportive therapy to the feline to reverse dehydration, decrease nausea, and provide nutrition. Initial therapy is usually completed intravenously, but if the feline has not received adequate nutrition for greater than three days’ time, a feeding tube may be placed. The treatment plan your veterinarian chooses to address feline anorexia greatly depends on the underlying cause and how your feline reacts. Some cats’ underlying disease prevents them from tolerating food in the stomach, therefore an IV line may need to be placed to provide adequate nutrition. Nutritional therapy treatment requires hospitalization of the feline, as this therapy cannot be given at home and poses a risk for infection. The veterinarian may also choose to prescribe medications during the treatment period which could include: 

  • Steroids (inflammation reducers) 
  • IV fluids
  • Antacids 
  • Pain medications 
  • Appetite stimulants 
  • Anti-nausea medications 
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Recovery of Anorexia in Cats

The prognosis for anorexia in cats depends on the underlying cause, the severity of the feline’s condition, and what the veterinarian has found present in the cat’s blood work. In general, a feline that refuses to eat has an overall poor prognosis. Your veterinarian will ask to reevaluate your feline periodically after the cat has been released home. 

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Anorexia Average Cost

From 340 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$800

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Anorexia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Domestic Tabby cat

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Six Months

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Unknown severity

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7 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite, Diarrhea, Vomiting

my 6 month old orange tabby hasn’t been eating properly for about 2-3 days. he ate a can of food today, because I switched to something softer for him. his behavior hasn’t changed whatsoever. he doesn’t seem to be in any pain. in the mornings he runs to the bowl because he knows im going to feed him but he doesn’t eat the food I lay out for him.

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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7 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm a little confused by your question, in the symptoms you say he is vomiting and having diarrhea, but I'm not sure that you mention that in your actual question? If he is vomiting and having diarrhea, and has lost appetite, then it would be best to have him seen by your veterinarian, as kittens can be affected by parasites and infectious diseases, and he may need treatment. If he is bright and happy, and not having any diarrhea or vomiting and seems to be hungry, you may just need to try a different food for him until you find one that he likes. Kittens don't tend to be as picky as older cats, but there may be something that he likes better. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 23, 2020

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Tj

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Domestic Long Haired

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13 Years

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Serious severity

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3 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Anerexia

Hi, my 13 year old cat has had a relapse of cancer. We know it's terminal, it has spread through the chest. At this point we are doing palliative care to keep her content. She currently is getting SQ fluids every other day and a daily does of an NSAID pain. I believe it's pirexicam or something like that. Two weeks ago she was less interested in her set food/would eat only some of it, but being a picky eater it wasn't completely unlike her. A week ago she came, sniffed, and walked already. Weird. The next day she refused to even come inspect the way food and we noticed she wasn't eating at all (they are free feed kibble) She still drinks but doesn't eat. She still drinks frequently but has lost a lot of weight and only moves to find a new place or grab a drink. We understand she's in the end stages of her disease but sometimes she looks like she wants to try to eat. She will eat the odd treat but stops after one or two. We've tried baby food, kitten food, wet food, ppl food that she normally begs for. She was given an appetite stimulant and she did eat a little after that but it was short lived. We currently syringe feed her at night to give her her pain meds. We are at a loss as to how to encourage her to eat a bit more

Aug. 7, 2018

Tj's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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3 Recommendations

If TJ doesn't feel well enough to eat despite all of the things that you have tried to coax her to eat, that may be a sign that her life is not of great quality, as hard as that is to accept, and as sad as that is. All you can do at this point is offer her anything that you think she might like.

Aug. 7, 2018

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Anorexia Average Cost

From 340 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$800

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