Why is my cat not eating?

If your cat is rejecting food despite looking physically healthy, you might be worried that it has developed a behavioral disorder.

Although this isn’t always a warning sign of future problems, your cat may be sick.

But before you rush him/her to the hospital, there are a few things you can do without any outside intervention.

First, remember that a cat can survive up to two weeks without eating.

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However, anorexia, a.k.a. loss of appetite, may have adverse effects on its health just like it may affect us humans or any other animal.

Nonetheless, this fortnight of fasting (no pun intended) will require that the cat remains hydrated one way or another.

Like all living things, cats need water to survive.

When it is healthy & happy, most of this liquid intake comes from the foods that cats eat under normal circumstances.

A cat can, therefore, become doubly dehydrated from not eating enough.

And that can cause major organs to pause their functions in the first few days and eventually fail.

Unfortunately, a speedy death could be the end result if the problem isn’t fixed quickly.

As per the design of nature, your cat can survive without food for up to 2 weeks; but will live only a few days without water.

If it’s not eating as per its regular routine, make sure it’s drinking a lot of water or milk.

This should offset any serious long-term damage to its health for now.

What are the real dangers?

To perform at their optimal functional capacity, cells, tissues & organs in the cat’s body require water.

They will acquire this water from other parts of the body unless they are met with a proper diet.

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The cat’s body is programmed to shut down some organs of lower significance in the event of dehydration.

This natural process enables the cells, tissues & essential organs to borrow water from other sources.

Which organs will be shut down due to dehydration?

The kidneys and stomach will be the first to shut down to keep the heart and brain running.

Consequently, this may cause irreparable damage to these otherwise essential organs.

Hence, you need to ensure that this phase does not last very long.

Because even in the presence of water, your cat will become sick and weak if it does not eat for long periods.

The body is unable to perform vital functions when starved of essential nutrients that foods usually provide.

Is that all?

Unfortunately, it’s not.

Severe starvation may result in hepatic lipidosis, which is a problem of the liver.

In the absence of regular food, the cat’s body may start to break down fats already stored in the body to meet the minimum energy requirements.

This action’s side effect is that your cat’s body will start depositing fat in the animal’s liver.

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Over the next few days, other medical issues may arise due to the liver’s limited functioning.

Moreover, a high deposit of fat in the liver could kill the cat within days.

The higher the concentration of fat on the liver, the quicker your pet will perish.

Avoiding this accumulation of fat on the liver is critical to the survival of your cat.

What is hepatic lipidosis?

Hepatic lipidosis occurs in two forms.

Idiopathic hepatic lipidosis occurs when your cat stops eating for no apparent reason.

While you may not sense the change, your sensitive cat will more than just notice the subtle differences.

This could be in the shape of changes to his/her immediate surroundings. This will be debated at length in later paragraphs.

There is secondary hepatic lipidosis, which may be caused by an underlying disease or visible physical weakness.

Anorexia caused by other ailments such as diseases of the pancreas or intestines and/or diabetes may also eventually lead to secondary hepatic lipidosis.

The important thing is being aware of your cat’s natural behaviors and any sudden changes to its activities.

It is paramount that you take your cat to the vet as soon as you see such behavioral changes.

What could cause anorexia in my cat?

Sometimes, when the cat’s surroundings are changed, it may develop certain health problems, including stress.

Other changes may include the death of the cat’s owner, the introduction of another cat to the family, or something as simple as a misplaced litter box.

Cats are sensitive creatures by nature.

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They can also be extremely sensitive to what we consider small changes or an upgrade: furniture movement around the home or renovation.

Sometimes, stomachache may also distress the cat enough to trigger anxiety and an upset stomach.

If you notice any behavioral or physical weakness, you should visit the vet before something more serious has the chance to take hold.

If your cat shows signs of anorexia even when its surroundings (within your home) haven’t changed at all, it could be an indicator of a serious, underlying health concern.

Once again, you need to get to the vet, who may run a biopsy to check for liver function and health.

Are there any other possible causes?

Unfortunately, there are.

If your cat does not eat for a long time, it could experience renal (kidney) failure.

Or it could be the other way round- maybe your cat isn’t eating because it has already developed renal failure.

No matter which comes first, this is a significant problem and must be addressed urgently.

We already know the dangers of kidney failure in human beings. And we’re so much stronger than a little cat.

Imagine what renal failure will do to a cat. The animal’s lifespan may be seriously shortened by kidney failure.

Initial signs of renal failure may include more thirst and weight loss.

However, over time, your cat may become sluggish and lethargic to the extent of not moving at all for days.

Nausea may creep in at the same time, further disrupting its eating cycles.

Over time, dehydration and starvation will make the feces hard and dry and affect bowel movement.

If not treated immediately, your cat may develop painful ulcers in its oral cavity and also its intestines.

This will result in the accumulation of toxins in the cat’s bloodstream, and eventually, result in the complete destruction of the nervous system.

At this stage, your cat may only have hours to survive.

How do I get my cat to eat again?

If you have recently changed your pet’s diet, try going back to the old diet again.

You could also try to add some tuna water to the new delicacies or the cat’s old diet to ensure additional liquid consumption.

You should seriously consider medication for your cat’s anorexia.

If your cat has any other health issues, those can usually be treated with the right medication.

However, if the cat continues to avoid eating for 2 days or more, you might want to get to the vet as soon as possible.

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If your cat hasn’t eaten for 5 days, the vet may recommend a feeding tube to directly get the essential nutrients to its digestive system.

Your vet is your safest bet at this time.

Follow their advice. Otherwise, your cat may develop serious illnesses of the liver and kidneys.

Any conclusions?

Cats are sensitive animals and demand the utmost care and attention.

Once you’ve decided to keep a pet cat, you are responsible for its health.

Give it good food, with subtle changes every now and again. And make sure it gets regular exercise.

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