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My cat won't eat - is this an emergency?

My cat won't eat - is this an emergency?

You might be alarmed to discover that your cat has suddenly stopped eating. It can be challenging for even seasoned pet parents to decide whether to take their four-legged friend in for emergency veterinary care. Our Mamaroneck vets list some common reasons why cats stop eating, and how to tell if you're dealing with an emergency situation. 

Why would my cat stop eating?

Cats are notorious for their picky eating habits. Countless cat owners have found themselves perusing shelves at pet food stores for interesting new flavors of canned food and kibble their furry friends will like eating. 

That said, an underlying health issue may be to blame if your cat refuses to eat for more than 24 hours. 

Dental Issues 

Many dental issues can potentially cause your cat to suffer from mouth pain, which can lead to a refusal to eat. Advanced tooth decay, loose or broken teeth, inflamed gums, dental abscesses or foreign objects can all cause injuries in the mouth and significant pain. 

If you suspect your cat is suffering from pain in his mouth, bring them in to your vet as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. After your vet has examined your furry companion, he or she will perform a dental cleaning of your cat's teeth and diagnose any problems that may be causing pain. 

Kidney Disease 

Kidney disease is relatively common in older cats and may cause your cat to feel nauseated, which can lead to refusal to eat. Other symptoms include urinating frequently and drinking an excessive amount of water. 

Two forms of kidney disease are common in cats. You'll need a veterinarian to diagnose and treat this serious disease. If your senior cat (over 7 years old) has stopped eating or is showing other symptoms of kidney disease, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. 

Gastrointestinal Issues 

Just like their humans, gastrointestinal (GI) problems can cause cats to feel nauseated and consequently, experience a drop in their appetite. Cats suffering from GI issues will often (but not always) display other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, constipation and weight loss.

Common GI issues in cats include:

  • Colitis 
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Parasites
  • Cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Foreign object, such as a piece of plastic or plant, in your cat’s digestive tract
  • Changes in your cat’s intestinal bacteria

It’s time to see your vet if you notice that your cat is experiencing weight loss, diarrhea, constipation or vomiting in addition to losing her appetite.

Gastrointestinal issues, including the ones listed above, are serious and may warrant emergency care. Getting a diagnosis and early treatment for these GI issues is important for your cat’s health, and should be done as early as possible.

Other Possible Causes

Cats may refuse to eat for a number of reasons not directly related to their overall physical health, including:

  • New food
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Shift in normal routines
  • Recent vaccinations
  • Motion sickness due to travel

These issues should only cause your cat to skip two meals at most - no more. If your cat refuses to eat for any longer, it’s time for a visit to the vet.

If my cat refuses to eat, when should I visit a vet?

If your cat has skipped more than one or two meals, or is exhibiting any behaviors or symptoms you’re concerned about, come to our emergency vet office in Greensboro right away. Call ahead if possible.

Because cats can quickly become seriously ill, early diagnosis and treatment are critical to your feline friend’s long-term health.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat not eating? If he or she is experiencing concerning symptoms, contact our Mamaroneck vets right away. At Miller Clark Animal Hospital we can provide an accurate and effective diagnosis of your pet's medical issue.

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