Jump to section

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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 
arrow-up-icon

Top

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 
arrow-up-icon

Top

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 
arrow-up-icon

Top

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. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Anorexia Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$800

arrow-up-icon

Top

Anorexia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Domestic Tabby cat

dog-age-icon

Six Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

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

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

2 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

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Tj

dog-breed-icon

Domestic Long Haired

dog-age-icon

13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

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

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 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

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Jenny

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Appetite

My cat has hypothyroidism and has started taking felimazole for it but it has made her loose her appetite completely. I have given her the most tiniest bit of mirtazapine and she started eating. But effects only lasted a day. I decided to halve her dose of felimazole to just 2.5mg a day to help her eat. Can i give her both these medications together? She's too thin and weak. She needs weight on her now.

July 30, 2018

Jenny's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

You can give those two medications together, but it is concerning that the Felimazole has caused a decrease in appetite. It is important to monitor blood levels of thyroid hormone while figuring out the right dosage for Jenny to be taking.

July 30, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Tiger

dog-breed-icon

Short hair domestic

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

No Meow, Wont Eat Or Drink Or Come

My cat stopped eating and drinking 2 weeks ago. I took him to the vet who gave him pills for appetite and stomach discomfort. He appeared better and began to eat and drink. Now all of a sudden he's back where he started

July 25, 2018

Tiger's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

There are many different causes for the loss of appetite and it is important to determine the underlying cause, without examining Tiger I can only recommend basic supportive and symptomatic treatment which isn’t going to resolve the underlying issue; you should return to your Veterinarian for a thorough examination to see what the underlying cause is. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 25, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Bella

dog-breed-icon

dsh

dog-age-icon

12 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, Anorexia, Weight Loss

My kitten is not eating. She is less active, sleeps more, but is playful when awake. My vet did give her SQ fluids and said she is just taking longer to recover from a distemper vaccine she just had. She ate a little A/D but is now not eating again. She has lost almost a pound. I am very concerned about this.

July 21, 2018

Bella's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

A lack of appetite and a loss of weight by be due to various different conditions including side effects of some vaccinations, it is important to ensure that Bella is hydrated (fluids are great) and try to encourage eating by hand feeding her or mixing a little smooth wet food with water and syringing it slowly into the mouth drop by drop. Keep monitoring her and return to your Veterinarian if there is no improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 22, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Yogi

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite
Loss Of Appetite, Throwing Up

My cat is around 2 years old. He is playful and a great loving boy. In October he started to throw up blood. He was treated for an ulcer. About a month later he stopped eating and drinking for 3 days. The vet did blood work and it was clear. This eating on and off went on for 2 months. I treated him with an appetite stimulater and nausea meds on and off. He pukes during this time usually. I have tried so many foods. Along with a GI food he has been consistently on. He stops eating but seems hungry and wants to eat but will not. This will not stop. Vets thought he has a blockage and operated. They found nothing, we are waiting on biopsy reports. He has stopped eating again 6 days post op. I am completely frustrated and about to give up. What is wrong with my cat?

dog-name-icon

Eclipse

dog-breed-icon

DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

17 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Poor Appetite

Almost 2 weeks ago our kitten became dehydrated outta no where. We left the house for a few hours upon returning he was super lethargic. We rushed him to the vet. He seemed almost lifeless. The vet kept him for 3 days did IV fluids and ran a cbc determined that his kidney levels were severe. The 3rd day his renal panel was normal he was released from the hospital. When we returned home he changed drastically. Went from a super playful high energy kitten. Now he is barely eating. Ive even resorted to spoon feeding him. He is drinking water and will eat independently most times but its very little and only wet food. He wont play has no interest in doing so. We do take him back to see his vet in a few days. Any suggestions on what to expect or any helpful tips to get him normal again. We've already spent $500 trying to figure out whats happening with him. We all adore him and just want him better.

dog-name-icon

Koffie

dog-breed-icon

Bombay

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite
Severe Weight Loss
Complete Loss Of Appetite
Recluse

I have a younger cat who is just barely 2 years of age; I adopted her from a family that housed a hoard of feral cats. She was always small, since she was born. Smaller than the rest of the litter. She ate just fine up until about a year ago, she started getting really picky with food. I can't afford to get her fixed and all the shots that house cats usually get, let alone take her to the vet. I've been trying to change her food, wet food, all of it. She, at most, takes a few nibbles and hides again. She stays under my bed almost all of the time. I do have 2 other cats. One is 7 years old, he actually raised Koffie so they get along fine. The other one is a rescue, she's five years old. She isn't super nice but she's not really mean either. We did just go through a move but it's been weeks and koffie still doesn't eat very much, not enough to keep a steady weight. She has lost a lot of her weight, to the point I can see her hip bones. I'm not sure what else to do, aside from surrendering her to a shelter where I live that would give her the care she needs. I don't really want to lose her but I'm running out of ideas.

dog-name-icon

AVA

dog-breed-icon

himlayan

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Anorexia

I got my cat when she was about 3months old, everything was (mostly) fine (she had some URI problems, but she is a Himmy so that can be expected and of course I gave her L-lysine and some other supplements and she's been totally fine). But she stopped drinking water at about 5 months old, so I switched to wet food and she was ok with that And then almost stopped eating at about 10-11 months (sometimes she'd eat one meal a day or half a meal 2x a day) and sometimes NOTHING AT ALL! she wouldn't eat for 2 full days and the third day I would take her to the vet for IV and the vet thought it might be changes in weather or something like that, so she was put on Mirtazapine for a few days, during the first month, this happened 3 times! (when she's on the med she eats normally) I measure Kcal and water intake every day. So we(me and vets) started to look for any other anomalies/disease. She had MANY blood work, urine, faecal tests, Thyroid, pancreas test and everything the drs can think of basically... X-rays, ultrasounds, needle biopsy on her intestines... FeLV testing, FIV testing twice, all tests were done multiple times and in more than one hospital (except for the biopsy) the 4 vets I went to were all communicating with each other (6 doctors) All came up with NOTHING!!! (we did suspect FIP but it's been about half a year now, if it's FIP, it shouldn't take this long to...>"<...) She is completely normal in every other way, her urine and faeces are normal (if she eats less, obviously there will be less in the kitty litter, but other that everything is normal) and she is not losing weight, (she is still on Mirtazapine and is eating normally, we did try to take her off the med but.. same as the first month...) Also no change of environment or additional family members or anything like that, and she seems quite happy and relaxed most the time~ I tried ALOT of different foods, (she wasn't a picky eater before this weird thing started) I can tell she likes some food better than others, but if she's not on meds, she doesn't want to eat, she just won't eat (off med condition is like that first month, she'd eat sometimes, but sometimes none at all for days, and we go back to the hospital for IV) I am really desperate at this point, and the doctors have no idea what is wrong with her (because all her tests were normal) but I am concerned about her being on Mirtazapine for so long... I really don't know what to do. (the only test we haven't done is surgery, but there is really no reason to do surgery)

dog-name-icon

lily

dog-breed-icon

Feline

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Ringworm
Loss Of Appetite
Anorexia
Vomitting
Dark Lips
Weight Loss
Lethargy

My cat had fungal infection on the skin and i start home ttt by miconazole+hydrocodone cream at morning, terbinafin at night, and iodine at afternoon after 2 weeks the infection continue to spread and she start to lose appetite so i took her to the doctor, he gave her fluconazole IM injection. now this is the day 3 after injection and she refuse to eat or drink any thinks, i tried to feed her but she vomit it immediately every time, even water and honey. and now she not urine or stool anything since 2 days. what i can do for my cat? what is the reason?

Anorexia Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$800

How can we help your pet?