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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.

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 underlying disease:

  • Lethargy
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Change in behavior
  • Labored breathing
  • Signs of infection (e.g. pus discharge)
  • Bad breath
  • Red gums
  • Bloated abdomen
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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)
  • Oral ulcers
  • Digestive system disease (e.g. stomach, esophagus, liver)
  • Kidney infection or chronic kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Liver 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 rule in or out specific disorders, like infectious diseases. Also, your vet will 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. If parasites are suspected to be the cause, the vet will order a fecal examination. Furthermore, your cat will undergo a thorough 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. Any pain present should be controlled.

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.

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. A feeding tube is only considered where other treatment options have failed.

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.

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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 and abnormal salt and sugar levels, so be on the lookout for signs of these issues. 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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dog-breed-icon

Ragdoll

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

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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4 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

dog-age-icon

Five Years

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

Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

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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Loss of Appetite Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$900

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