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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 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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Browny

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DOMESTIC

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1 Month

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite

My cat seemed to lose its weight. I think it is because of parasites. How can I make it take its mother's milk? Any home remedy as I cannot afford to go to the vet? My kitten is only 1 month and 1 week old.

Sept. 4, 2018

Browny's Owner

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Victoria

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Tuxedo

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lost Appetite
Not Drinking Water

Sorry in advance as this may be a little long but I’m hoping someone can help. I recently adopted a rescue cat back in May. She’s roughly 2 years old and she is usually very loud and bossy when it comes to being fed and if we aren’t moving fast enough for her she lets us know it but I noticed on Friday morning she wasn’t at my door, kitchen or anywhere in sight like she normally is to be fed. My mom tried to feed her throughout the day and she barely ate anything. Yesterday and today she refuses to eat or drink any water. I took her to the vet immediately on Friday when I noticed this. They took comprehensive blood work and then an x Ray yesterday and nothing. They said besides a little gas in the colon and some poo that was sitting in there they weren’t worried about it because it would come out. The vet gave me Famotidine for nausea and then cerenia for vomiting. She only vomited a small amount of yellow liquid yesterday and that was it. She seems to be acting normal outside of not eating and drinking. I’ve tried cooking up some chicken, an egg, put a very small amount of milk in a bowl down and she REFUSES any and all of it. I bought some Nutri-cal high calorie gel from Petco last night and have been smearing it around her mouth and trying to get it in her mouth but trying to get the correct amount in her mouth is challenging. I had to smash up the nausea pill into dust and then put on some of her canned food and force feed her. She was perfectl fine on Thursday. I’ve spent $400 in the last two days and plan on taking her back today because I don’t know what to do. I just lost one rescue back in April that I only had 1 year and she was only 7 or 8. The vet found out she had chronic kidney failure and did everything I could to try and help her. It came out of nowhere. I don’t know if I’m being overly paranoid but I just want an answer instead of forking out almost $500 for an I don’t know. Any help or recommendations would be much appreciated.

Aug. 26, 2018

Victoria's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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I'm sorry that is happening to Victoria - there must be something going on to cause that loss of appetite, but it is good that her bloodwork is normal. There is an appetite stimulant called Mirtazapine that can be used to get cats eating again, and that might work for her. You can ask y our veterinarian if they think it might be appropriate, and I hope that she gets back to normal soon.

Aug. 26, 2018

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Loss of Appetite Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$900

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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