Common Reasons Why Cats Stop Eating and Drinking

Cats are mocked for their picky food habits; however, if your feline refuses to eat or drink, it is a severe problem.

An unwillingness to eat is troubling for all animals, but it is particularly life-threatening for cats.

A cat’s lack of appetite is usually a sign of disease. So, suppose your feline has stopped eating. In that case, whether it occurred unexpectedly or slowly over time, it is essential to consult a veterinarian to discover if your pet is suffering from any disease.

I have prepared a checklist to assist you in acquiring knowledge before calling the veterinarian. Please note that talking to a veterinary expert regarding your cat’s health would be the best choice!

Should I be concerned if my cats stop eating and drinking?

If your feline is puking, coughing, having breathing issues, changing their drinking manners, having issues peeing, or appearing to be in discomfort while eating, then you should be concerned about them.

If your pet is obese, you should be concerned if she stops eating. Felines can experience a dangerous and sometimes deadly illness known as ‘hepatic lipidosis,’ which occurs when their liver is exhausted from fighting to transform their excess fat into power.

Even though your pet appears to be acting fine, you must be careful if they quit consuming for over a day. Felines need to consume more often than canines because their bodies are not built to withstand prolonged periods of hunger.

Why is my cat hiding and not eating?

What causes a cat to stop eating?

1. Changes in cat food

Felines are curious animals, and they build tastes for specific foods quite fast. They are habitual of eating the same food daily, be it sauce, moist canned food, or dried treats, and would often avoid eating if their meal is switched.

If your pet does the same, try giving them the same food or something which appears to be of the same texture.

Please remember that when switching your pet’s food, it is advisable to go through it gradually within a few weeks.

2. Recent vaccination

Have you noticed a change in your feline’s diet since you visited the vet for regular vaccinations? If such is the case, your pet’s refusal to eat might be an allergic response to the vaccinations.

Vaccines have saved the lives of countless creatures, yet they also have adverse effects on a fraction of animals. Anorexia is one of the most prevalent negative impacts, often for a short time and has moderate strength.

Felines are picky animals and may quickly acquire a ‘food allergy’ if they link a specific meal with being sick or having a frightening event. If your pet has lately been around the vet’s clinic or in a pet store, they may be linking their meal with that particular event and are avoiding it.

If you suspect your pet is still picky, consider trying a different brand of canned food, ideally one with a similar consistency, and observe if she likes it.

3. Environmental changes

Modifications in their surroundings or routine might drive them to stop eating for a few days as they evaluate the situation. But if you fail to figure out what is bothering your pet, depression and fear are two of the major causes of a feline’s refusal to eat.

If your pet’s routine was disturbed, provide a soothing environment with whatever they want (treats, drink, toys, scratching board, and litter box) far away from the origin of their anxiety. You can also use diffusers to keep their private area more peaceful.

See also: How to make cats comfortable in a new home?

4. Diarrhea

A troubled gut is a frequent reason for loss of appetite in felines, as in most other pets. Nausea causes felines to stop consuming when they are sick or have constipation. Look for indications of diarrhea in your pet’s litter box or keep an eye on them whenever they play outdoors.

It is advisable to contact your veterinarian if your pet is puking or has diarrhea. They may advise you to keep an eye on them for a few weeks, introduce antibiotics to their diet, or take them to the vet for an examination.

Since nausea and diarrhea could be symptoms of an underlying medical condition like feline gastroenteritis, your veterinarian may offer screening procedures like bloodwork or a stomach scan to determine what is wrong.

5. Dental problems

Regardless of how sore their gums are, most felines will continue to eat. Examining your pet’s teeth and gums is a major aspect of determining when they have refused to eat, switched the diet they like, or modified their chewing habits.

If your feline lets you touch their mouth, inspect inside their mouth for damaged teeth, inflamed gums, and dentures covered in brown or black calculus. Begin with the teeth, which are located at the rear of their mouth, and become more prone to create trouble biting and grinding. Watch for bumps in the mouth, a bad odor, and thick red patches on the enamel, all of which indicate a severe dental problem in felines.

Stop immediately if your pet does not allow you to take your hands near their mouth and is scratching or biting you! You would not like to hurt cats or your hands, so consult your veterinarian for help. In certain circumstances, it is not appropriate to inspect a feline’s mouth while they are conscious, particularly when they are attempting to attack; therefore, your veterinarian may suggest sedation or local anesthesia to check their mouth thoroughly.

See also our article to find out why your cat bites you

7. Behavioral changes

If your pet’s temperament has changed, there may be something more severe is happening. When your feline is sick, she will remain hidden and get angrier, scratching everyone if touched or startled. This might also indicate discomfort, inflammation, or illness. It is also a concerning symptom if your pet has quit consuming and is napping every time.

If you see the above signs in your pet then the best course of action is to see a veterinarian. When transferring your pet to their cage, be cautious since she may attack you using her fangs or claws.

8. Diabetes and hyperthyroidism

Usually, pets experience severe hunger due to diabetes or hyperthyroidism in the early stages. Senior cats are frequently reported to have a lot more energy and a healthy appetite, which convinces animal owners that they are healthy. But, when this condition progresses in some felines, they will lose their appetite completely, which is a terrible symptom, especially in diabetes.

If your feline is mid-aged or senior and used to have a great diet, diabetes or hyperthyroidism may be the main reason. Your veterinarian would be able to identify these problems and talk to you about how to deal with them.

9. Cat flu

When felines get ‘cat flu‘ or another infection in their respiratory system, they may quit eating. Watery eyes, a drippy nose, sneezing, heavy breathing are all common signs. Cat flu is highly prevalent in pets that have lately been stressed or that have not been vaccinated.

These felines are considered to refrain from eating since they cannot smell their favorite dishes; consider heating their wet meal to determine if this encourages them to eat. If it still doesn’t help, it is important to reach your veterinarian since cat flu is more than a terrible cold!

10. Unusual breathing

Felines with issues farther down their nasal passages, like lungs and heart, are usually too focused on their breathing pattern in order to eat. These felines might drool or rest with their necks stretched and arms out, allowing their airways to function properly.

You might also have observed that your feline is less interested in exercising or that she quits playing in the middle of a game. Breathing difficulties in pets are critical, and you must always call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Should I be worried if my cat is not drinking water?

If a cat’s food consumption is appropriate, it is extremely rare for them to not feel thirsty. Consider using a pet water drinking fountain if you believe your pet is not receiving sufficient water. Some felines enjoy flowing water than still water, as well as the sound of water waves entices pets to drink from the fountains.

cat stops eating and drinking
Image credit: 165106 from Pixabay

A meal change, on the other hand, might be one reason for reduced water consumption. If you keep feeding your feline packaged food or a similar high-moisture diet, she might drink less liquid from their dish because they are receiving more liquid from their meals. There is no reason to be concerned because it is logical. However, if your cat is also consuming far less normal or you are worried, book an appointment with your veterinarian.

Apart from this, if your pet is taking more fluids than normal while also refusing to eat, this might be a sign of a serious concern like diabetes or renal disease. If this is the case with your pet then visit your vet immediately as delaying this might be dangerous for your cat’s health and risk its life.

Read also: all you need to know about cat dehydration

What are the treatments for a cat that is not eating or drinking?

The solution for a cat that would not eat or drink comprises 2 parts: addressing the true reason and giving supportive therapy.

To guarantee that the lack of hunger is actually addressed, it is critical to deal with the root reason (or have control over the disease and possibly if your pet is having a chronic disease). After supportive treatment is stopped, anorexia may reappear if the root issue is not treated.

A vet may give a complete record (asking you regarding your feline’s concerns, any adjustments in the house, travel record, and much more) and do a physical exam to assess your pet’s overall health and search for any occurrences that might indicate the decreased appetite (like a respiratory system inflammation or oral issues.)

Screening tests are frequently required to conclude because they provide your veterinarian with additional information about what is happening within your cat’s body. The following are examples of important tests:

  • A fecal examination (to check for any parasites)
  • Urine and blood tests are required
  • Ultrasonic or X-rays tests
  • Inflammatory illness tests are performed
  • Diagnostic checks, like biopsy or a food experiment on a prescribed regimen, could be suggested based on your pet’s health history and signs.

After a diagnosis has been made, specific therapy is provided. A feline having a poor tooth, for instance, could be booked for tooth surgery to extract it, and a feline that is concerned about a shift in the house could be given relaxing medicines.

Supportive healthcare is essential for an ill feline to feel happy, avoid difficulties from not consuming, and encourage recovery, irrespective of the reason.

Supportive therapy is customized to a pet’s specific requirements and problems, but standard therapies involve:

  • Anti-nausea drugs
  • Gastrointestinal protectants or antibiotics
  • Stimulants for hunger
  • Pain relievers
  • Treatment with fluids
  • Hairball management or foods for delicate guts
  • Extra steps, such as providing packaged food or a flavorful snack to stimulate the desire, might be used to boost hunger or make meals more pleasant.
  • To enhance the scent of food, bring it to normal temperature.
  • Hand-feeding with love, support, and giving attention to the cat.
  • Hospital treatment and the insertion of a feeding pipe, if necessary. It is normally intended for animals that require long-term dietary care.

Read also: How often should I feed my cats?


Whatever is behind your pet’s decrease in appetite, fixing the matter immediately with your vet ensures that your pet receives the correct treatment – even before the underlying health problem worsens, or difficulties arise.

Timely care would also make your kitten return to its old form as quickly and efficiently as possible.

If your kitty is not consuming, do not wait more than a day before visiting the veterinarian. Other signs, like nausea, bladder issues, or elevated breathing rates, may indicate a threat, and you must take your cat to the veterinarian as fast as possible.

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