written by Larissa Gerlach

Why is my cat not eating? 10 reasons for your cats loss of appetite!


The moment cats begin to refuse their food, we, as owners, become very worried. However, if our kitties are reluctant to eat now and then, there is not always reason to panic but may be due to a variety of reasons. In veterinary medicine, when a cat does not want to eat, this is referred to as inappetence or anorexia.

If your cat only goes without food for a few hours, there is usually nothing serious behind it - it might simply not be hungry at that moment. You should still be vigilant, however: If a cat goes without food for more than 24 hours, it might be due to a disease and can affect its internal organs. It is always good to investigate the cause of a cat's lack of appetite: Perhaps it is simply a fussy cat or is there a more serious underlying issue? Here are 10 possible reasons why your cat is not eating.


One of the most common reasons why your cat might (temporarily) be off its food is that it is simply not hungryor has already satisfied its hunger elsewhere. With indoor cats, you as the owner usually have control over when and where your cat eats, and can make sure that it doesn't snack anywhere else. Too many treats will also fill up your cat. Therefore, you should check again how much your cat is being spoiled 'in between'.

If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors or is a free roamer, it is not so easy to check the amount of food it eats. Your cat may have eaten mice, birds or other cats' food outside and is therefore simply full.

If you are sure that your cat is not ill and has not satisfied its hunger elsewhere, the loss of appetite could be related to its food.

Other possible reasons:

  • lack of freshness (if the food has been outside for a long time, or even in warm temperatures, your cat may no longer like it).
  • unfamiliar, new food
  • food that has gone bad
  • unpleasant consistency
  • Oversaturation (when your cat simply gets tired of its food after a long time)

Food intolerances in cats are common reasons for a refusal to eat. Cats will not eat their food if they are food sensitive or allergic to individual ingredients. In most cases, allergies and intolerances are related to certain protein sources in the food. These are often familiar meats such as beef, chicken or turkey, but can also include certain grains. If your cat does not digest these foods, the result will be vomiting, diarrhoea and discomfort. Once you have identified the food your cat doesn't like, you should choose a food that does not contain the incompatible source of protein. Is your cat intolerant to poultry? Then try beef or fish. Cats with particularly sensitive stomachs or multiple intolerances may benefit from switching to a hypoallergenic or sensitive food. Be sure to take your cat to your vet to get to the root of the problem.

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Everyone knows that dental problems are unpleasant and painful.

Cats can also suffer from tooth or mouth pain for a variety of reasons (missing teeth, changing teeth, tartar, inflammation, etc.).

Painful teeth often result in your cat not eating. For this reason, you should always ensure proper oral hygiene and healthy teeth and contact a vet if you suspect your cat has a toothache.

The ageing process is something nobody can escape – not even our beloved kitties. The older your cat gets, the less energy it needs. Digestion also slows down, so it is not uncommon for older cats to simply be less hungry. An elderly cat can no longer manage the same portions as when it was younger and is therefore happy to have several small portions at intervals throughout the day.

Unfortunately, it is always possible that your cat's lack of appetite is a sign of a serious disease. If you have been able to rule out all the reasons mentioned so far and your cat is still not eating, you should have a vet check the health of its internal organs. This can be done by blood, stool and urine tests or by ultrasound scan. You should act quickly, especially if there are additional symptoms such as listlessness, nausea, pain or diarrhoea. The following diseases, among others, can cause your cat to stop eating:

  • Inflammations (e.g. stomach inflammation, gastritis, intestinal inflammation or pancreatitis).
  • Tumours
  • Metabolic disorders (e.g. kidney, gall and liver diseases)

A common reason for cats not eating is that their immune system is struggling with an infection. Infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria and also parasites. Fighting the infection is often accompanied by cold or flu symptoms, such as:

  • exhaustion
  • digestive problems (abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea)
  • fever
  • extreme thirst
  • listlessness
  • impaired sense of smell and taste
  • Loss of appetite

Especially an infestation of parasites (e.g. worms) often leads to a certain malaise, which results in your cat not eating properly.

As always: If you notice symptoms of illness, weight loss or even fever in your cat, you should consult a vet immediately.

Especially outdoor cats can become victims of poison baits or other forms of poisoning. If your cat is poisoned, it will no longer touch its own food and display clear signs of poisoning (vomiting, pain, disorientation, dizziness, shock). It is not uncommon for poisoning to be life-threatening and should therefore be treated by a vet as soon as possible.

Fear, stress, hormonal changes and psychological stress often cause cats to ignore their food bowl. Psychological stress for a cat is a very individual matter. For some, even a change of food causes pure stress. Others are frightened by loud noises or children in the household. Especially pregnant or nursing cats may occasionally not eat when their hormones run wild.

The following life circumstances can cause stress in cats:

  • visits to the vet and operations
  • living together and conflicts with other cats
  • moving to a new home
  • being alone
  • loss of orientation in unfamiliar surroundings
  • mourning (e.g. for a caregiver or another cat)
  • pregnancy and birth

Unfortunately, there are times when cats "learn" to reject their food. This aversion occurs when your kitty associates its food with something negative, In such a case, it is helpful to feed your cat from your hand and show a lot of patience. It can take 3 to 4 weeks before your cat once again associates food with something positive.
To ensure that your cat starts eating again with appetite and without worries, you should provide enough peace and quiet and a place to retreat. A regular daily routine and loving attention will also provide security and mental harmony.

Last but not least, illnesses, infections or poisoning are not necessarily the reason why your cat won’t eat. Many cats are generally regarded as fussy and picky eaters. They can quickly get bored with their food, so you can introduce variety into the food bowl from time to time. Alternative protein sources, new oils or unfamiliar tasty additions are guaranteed to stimulate your cat's appetite. If in doubt, a change of food can also help. Remember, however, that changing food too often is not good for your cat.

Normally, there is no need worry too much if your cat doesn't eat for a few hours. You should nonetheless keep a close eye on your cat so that you can react if further symptoms occur. If your cat does not eat for a long period of time, you should consult a vet as soon as possible. An excessively long fasting period can have a negative effect on your cat’s vitality. In order to get to the root of the actual cause of the loss of appetite, your vet can carry out blood, stool, X-ray and ultrasound examinations and also initiate appropriate treatment. If your pet's vital signs are good, it may be worth considering a change of food or a little more variety in the meals.