An otherwise healthy cat can survive for up to two weeks without food. Water, on the other hand, is crucial for their immediate survival. A cat will not survive more than three to four days without water.
While it’s no surprise that cats are moody creatures, it’s usually alarming when a cat stops eating their food. We’ve written posts about cats that won’t stop meowing for food, but what about the opposite?
As with all things related to cats, life would be a lot easier if they could just talk to us. But since they can't, we're left with interpreting their issues. So let’s start with the big question.
Why Is My Cat Not Eating?
A cat who gave up on their food is a cat in dire need of something. This can range from attention to something really serious. It’s up to us to understand what’s causing their sudden moodiness with food. Let’s start with the easiest issues to solve and work our way to the more dreaded ones.
The Don’t Like The Food
It’s absolutely possible that your cat, like us, doesn’t eat everything under the sun. There’s some foods that we just don’t like, and there’s some foods that make some of us sick. Your cats are the same way. They have taste buds too, and some cats hate chicken, while others don’t care what you feed them as long as it’s edible.
Yes, your cat may have a lot of anxiety around their food or eating habits that are literally causing them to avoid eating. Spotting this one should be pretty easy for you. Ask yourself, did anything traumatic happen to your cat while eating? If you’re living in a multi-cat household like us, sometimes you don’t really know what's going on at the feeding corner. Cats are territorial - if one of them stops eating, separate their feed times and bowls to make sure it’s not the reason.
As a quick fix on anxiety, you can try introducing CBD to your cats diet. It's been shown to significantly decrease anxiety, and at the very least, you can rule it out as an issue for your cat if it has no effect on their eating habits.
Yes, your cute little fur ball can come down with depression just like you can. Now, cats are pretty lazy overall, so it might be hard to determine depression just from their usual habits. But usually big changes in their lifestyles can cause depression, so again, ask yourself what has changed in their life recently. Maybe they lost a friend, or you stopped letting them into a certain area of the house, or it could be that you don’t spend the same amount of time with them as you used to.
It’s entirely possible that your cat is foregoing one of their favorite activities because it’s causing them pain. Dental issues are known to pop up from time to time in cats - this could be as standard as a toothache to as intense as gingivitis. If you notice that they have extra bad breath, are drooling a lot, or constantly sticking their tongue out, it might be time to find a kitty dentist.
It’s well known that cats have a much stronger sense of smell than humans do, but it’s important to consider the effect that smell has on food and hunger. A cat's intense smell allows them to track food better, but if they are dealing with a respiratory problem they may be unable to smell their food, or it may just smell unappealing to them.
Any other underlying medical condition could also be a cause for your cat to quit eating. If they have had a surgery lately or are taking medications, it’s common for them to lose their appetite. It’s also possible that they are refusing to eat to get your attention - they may need your help. Contact your vet so they can get a checkup.
How To Get My Cat To Eat?
If you don’t care about self-diagnosing your cat's issue and just need them to start eating, we’ve got to go with the full court press. This includes all our tips at once to make sure you get their interest in their food. Here’s all the pieces you can try at home with little to no effort on your part before bringing them into the vet.
Move The Food Bowl
You may not realize it, but their food bowl may be in an awful spot for them. Some cats can’t even eat if their back is facing the room, though it’s more common for street cats. Some won’t eat if they are in or near a loud environment. Little Pima won’t eat his food if our air conditioner is on because it blows cold air on him as it’s near his food bowl.
Move their food bowl somewhere new and see if they at least go near it.
Change Their Food
Hopefully you know what foods your cats like, but hey, sometimes things change. If you have a different type of food handy, give it to them. You can always boil some chicken for them if there’s no other cat food around, though we would recommend getting some wet food from the store - most cats can't resist.
Replace Their Food Bowl
Cats are clean creatures, it’s why we recommend cleaning their litter box daily to avoid issues. And their food bowls are no different. After a few meals your cat's bowls end up with dried saliva and food remains on it. If you’re not frequently cleaning it, it could discourage your cats from using it. Give it a good cleaning, or even better, replace it with a better food bowl. You may find that their style of food bowl was giving them issues. Most food bowls are too low to the ground for cats anyway, and the wrong bowl type can damage their whiskers.
Add Something Special On Top
We know how crazy cats usually get with food. But eating the same thing day in and day out can get tiring. Sometimes adding a little something on top can do the trick to give them some excitement. For us, Pima needs to have a hemp oil added to his wet food. It smells and tastes like bacon, and it’s a great way to entice him to eat.
Give your cats something special to rule out that they aren’t sick of eating the same food every day.
Watch For Hepatic Lipidosis
In rare cases, your cat may have a severe medical emergency that's causing them to avoid food. Hepatic Lipidosis is more commonly referred to as fatty liver syndrome is a potentially lethal disease that can occur in cats of all ages. Fatty liver syndrome can be caused by other issues such as cancer, obesity or kidney disease, but in most cases it results in a cat completely avoiding food. If you don’t see your cat resuming their normal eating habit after adjusting their food, get them to a vet immediately to have them checked for hepatic lipidosis before it’s too late.