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What is Loss of Appetite?

It is crucial to address the loss of your cat's appetite, because 24 hours of avoiding food (as little as 12 hours for young kittens) can have considerable impact on your cat's health.

When a cat lacks the ability or desire to eat, the condition is typically referred to as anorexia. This continued loss of appetite is not generally an illness in itself, but more likely a clinical sign that can point to a number of illnesses or other problems.

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Loss of Appetite Average Cost

From 309 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$900

Symptoms of Loss of Appetite in Cats

Although the clearest sign that your cat is not eating is to observe them refusing food each time it's given to them, there are other symptoms that can be present that can help narrow down what may be causing the food avoidance. Keep a lookout for any of the following signs, as they can indicate an issue such as disease:

  • Lethargy
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Change in behavior
  • Labored breathing
  • Signs of infection (e.g. pus discharge)
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Causes of Loss of Appetite in Cats

There are several potential issues that can cause a cat to lose its appetite. The causes are usually grouped into two separate categories, psychological and medical.

Psychological

  • Dislike of new food
  • Moving to a new home
  • New pet or baby joining the family
  • Travel to unfamiliar location
  • Other stress (e.g. bullied by another pet, hospitalization)

Medical

  • Vaccination side effect
  • Parasites
  • Dental issue (e.g. toothache)
  • Digestive system disease (e.g. stomach, esophagus, liver)
  • Kidney infection
  • Cancer
  • Blood disease 
  • Infections
  • Trauma/injury
  • Ingestion of poison
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Diagnosis of Loss of Appetite in Cats

Due to the variety of causes of a cat's loss of appetite, a veterinarian will want your pet to undergo a complete evaluation. One of the first things that may be done is checking your cat's weight and temperature, as well as the usual workup of a CBC (complete blood count), a urinalysis, and biochemical profile. The workup can determine specific disorders found in internal organs, like infectious diseases. Also, your vet may perform a physical examination to find things such as wounds or other signs of trauma.

A chest or abdominal x-ray or ultrasound will probably be recommended to look for any abnormalities or inflammation. If parasites are suspected to be the cause, the vet will order a fecal examination. Furthermore, your cat will undergo an oral examination to check for dental diseases.

As the loss of appetite can sometimes be psychological, it may be difficult to come up with a diagnosis if lab tests come back normal. You can assist in the diagnosis by keeping track of and informing the vet of any changes to your cat's behavior, as well as what occurred around the house when those changes began.

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Treatment of Loss of Appetite in Cats

Your veterinarian will want to begin treatment immediately as the longer the anorexia continues, the quicker your cat's health will decline. Often, treatment will begin while the vet is still determining exactly what is causing the loss of appetite. There are a handful of different methods to treat the condition.

Medication

Depending on the diagnosis, your vet will prescribe the corresponding medication to treat whatever illness your cat may have. For instance, antibiotics may be given for a bacterial infection, while medication to treat parasites will be prescribed upon the discovery of the parasite.

There are also drugs available that will stimulate your cat's appetite while handling some of the other symptoms, such as nausea.

Fluid Therapy

Either through an IV or through injections under the skin, your vet will deliver fluids to your cat so they will continue to receive hydration and vital nutrients.

Feeding Tube

This method of feeding helps avoid food going through your cat's mouth, which may be especially helpful if a dental disease is the cause of loss of appetite. Liquefied or softened food can be sent directly into the pet's digestive system. It's a method that's also useful for psychological problems with food as the cat won't be able to associate any negative feelings with food being in its mouth, and instead will steadily begin to eat on their own again.

Feeding Techniques at Home

Often, when the problem is directly related to the psyche rather than any physical illness, treatment works best with mixing up the diet or changing the way your cat is fed. You can try giving food directly out of your hand or through a syringe and adding favored foods. Also, warming up the food may prove useful, but always check that it's not too hot and is close to body temperature.

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Recovery of Loss of Appetite in Cats

It is important that you continue to observe your cat as its appetite increases at a steady, consistent rate. A lack of eating can lead to dehydration, so be on the lookout for that as well. Your cat may benefit from the likes of electrolyte or hydration supplements, which your vet will be able to recommend. If medication is given, always follow your vet's instructions to prevent the illness returning.

If changes at home are to blame for your cat not eating, then you should also address with your vet on how best to manage the situation, such as in the case of bringing in a new pet or even having a baby. Be sure to follow up with your vet to make sure your cat's eating habits are returning to normal, and if there are any indications that the anorexia has returned, take your pet in for another examination as soon as possible.

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Loss of Appetite Average Cost

From 309 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$900

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Loss of Appetite Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Ragdoll

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

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In Heat Not Eating Very Much

Is it normal for my male cat to eat very little. He has lost weight and is not eating very much. He is in heat and I have 2 other females that are my queen's but not in heat yet.

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Male cats do not go into heat, they respond to females when they are in heat. If he is constantly stimulated, that may be a reason for a decreased appetite. I am concerned, however, if your females are too young to be in heat, as there may be a medical reason for his weight loss. It may be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian, to make sure that he is okay.

Oct. 6, 2020

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Ragdoll

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite

My cat suddenly lost appetite, drooling no diarrhea. No drinking water also. Thanks

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Maine Coon

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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

Unknown severity

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Vomiting Lethargy Hiding In Closet

Normally out n about and demands moust food twice daily. Crunchies out all day. Had a hairball 3 days ago. Has not eaten or used litter box in 36 hours. Vet did xrays and no blockage seen. Low grade heart murmur. Gave serenia. Help!

Aug. 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, so sorry to hear about your cat. If he has not urinated in 36 hours that is a major problem. Some cats may not poop every day but should be having regular bowel movements. Hairballs can cause an intestinal blockage that may be hard to see on an x-ray. If the is not eating or drinking he may also be dehydrated. It may be best for him to go back to the vet for fluids or more testing to figure out why he is still acting this way.

Aug. 14, 2020

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Cat

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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Failure To Thrive

We are desperate for answers for our cat that we rescued as a kitten! Our cat Checkers is a loud, bossy,playful cat but suddenly 4 days ago has turned into a cat completely opposite! He won't walk but a few wobbly steps at a time,won't meow or groom himself, will drink occasionally and use the litter box. It was eating a few bites until yesterday and now nothing. When you hold him he is just limp as can be but doesn't seem to be in any pain. We keep finding him laying in the litter box. Very says blood work and x-rays but don't have the money since my husband's job due to the virus. Please advise

July 11, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Hello, There can be many different things that are wrong with your cat. It would be best for your cat to see a vet. Discuss your financial situation with your vet and they may be able to work within your budget. They may even be able to give him fluids and medications to help him feel better. If he is not eating you may need to syringe feed him food and water to help him.

July 11, 2020

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JJ

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Black

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2 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Losing Weight
Oversleeping
Normal Water Consumption
Little To No Appetite

I have recently moved to a new home with my 2 cats, he’s been fine up until the middle of last week. It started with him just using the bathroom outside the litter box, which he has never done, I thought he was just acting out. Then he started vomiting clear due to him not eating or having an appetite, he’s lost weight, and sleeps all day, his breathing is shallow sometimes. What could be wrong with my baby?

Sept. 23, 2018

JJ's Owner

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Daisy

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Persian

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4 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Anaplasma Platys
Anaplasma Platys Anemia
Anaplasma Platys Anemia With Inflam

My female kitten is 4months old she had fever from past 25days so I took her to vet he gave me some medicine for fever still her fever didn't go after 15days so again I visited vet he did blood test it came out that she has anaplasma platys with anemia and inflammation the doctor provided medicine for it but now her stomach size is become too big as from past 15days she has stopped eating food at all I am feeding here forcefully and her fever is gone but still her stomach size US the same I really don't understand what is wrong with her health as I am really worried still now vet is also not able to identify what is wrong with her health

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Kalu

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Cross

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Loss Of Appetite

Hy! My cat name is Kalu, he is completely black, he fought with some stray and got injured severely on his leg. We are treating it because of complete lockdown due to corona and no veterinary is available for now. Then he just gave up with the food, he is hungry as we know it but he can't eat anything. It's been a week and he doesn't eat and drinking water alot. We are in stress due to him please somebody suggest something because he is becoming extreme weak.

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Buta

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Siamese

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11 Years

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Mild severity

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating. Vomiting. Diarrhea

5 days ago we rescued a cat. At home we have an 11 year old Siamese cat who has the most chill temperament and a 10 year old morkie. They are besties. The cats would hiss and growl at one another but have no fights or anything (they both wear claw covers). Just recently I noticed my senior cat has not wanted his wet food, which he’s crazy for. He also isn’t eating his kibble. He’s been vomiting and yesterday had the runs. I have had him into the vet in December as he was vomiting like crazy. They found nothing :(. I know the stress of a new animal is probably the cause of it but I’m super worried and concerned. Has anyone else had similar experiences?

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Simon

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Loss of appetite

dog-age-icon

20 Years

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Serious severity

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite
Loss Of Mass

My Simon stopped eating a week ago today. And he is sleeping in the bathroom he comes out to drink and use the litter box. I started using the horse pellets for litter and now he's not eating his nose is stuffed up I have to clean his nose all the time and he has either tears or something else coming out of his eyes

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Ruby

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite
Anxiety

I just received a cat a few days ago. I got her the day after she was neutered. (shes 3 years old) right after she was allowed to roam my home, I was advised by my vet for the first week (5-7 days) that she should only stay in one room. shes been in my room for about 3 days and has been under my bed most of this time. im worried shes not eating enough or drinking enough. she has shown to fright to me, as when she leaves to go to the litter box, she allows us to pet her, but she goes right back under the bed. shes eaten in the last 3 days about a 1/3 cup of food and drank little water.

Loss of Appetite Average Cost

From 309 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$900

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