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

a black and white cat is lying on the floor and she does not want to eat

It can be concerning to find that your cat is not eating. You may wonder whether your furry friend needs to see an emergency vet. Our Douglasville Veterinary Hospital, Douglasville vets list some common reasons why cats may stop eating, and how to tell if your cat’s case is an emergency. 

Why won't my cat eat?

Does your kitty often prove to be a picky eater? It can sometimes make it tricky for cat owners who are faced with the challenge of trying to find food their pet will enjoy.

However, if you've gone 24 hours or more without seeing any nibbles from your furry friend, there may be something else at play and an underlying health issue could be brewing!

Gastrointestinal Problems

Did you know that your beloved feline friends can suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) issues, just like humans? This condition is often indicated by a lack of appetite and feeling nauseous. In addition to these symptoms, cats suffering with GI upset may also display signs such as weight loss, vomiting or diarrhea/constipation.

Some common forms of cat GI disturbances include:
  • Foreign object, such as a piece of plastic or plant, in your cat’s digestive tract
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
  • Parasites
  • Colitis
  • Urinary obstructions
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Changes in your cat’s intestinal bacteria

If you notice that your cat is experiencing weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation along with a reduced appetite, it’s time to call the vet.

Gastrointestinal issues such as the ones listed here are serious, and your cat may need emergency care. Having these issues diagnosed and treated early on is critical to your cat’s health.

Kidney Disease

As cats age, they may become more susceptible to developing kidney disease - a potentially dangerous condition for your feline friend.

If you suspect your pet is exhibiting symptoms such as vomiting or drinking an excessive amount of water, bring them in for diagnostics with the vet urgently. Kidney diseases come in two forms and can be treated through proper diagnosis and creating a tailored plan by experienced professionals!

Dental Issues

If dental issues are bothering her, this can cause your cat to experience pain in her mouth and lead to refusal to eat. Inflamed gums, loose or broken teeth, a dental abscess, an injury or foreign object in their mouth, advanced tooth decay or other issues can cause significant pain, prompting them to stop eating.

If you suspect your cat may be suffering from mouth pain, contact your vet as soon as possible for an appointment, so this issue can be diagnosed and treated.

Your vet will examine your cat, then perform a thorough dental cleaning of your four-legged friend’s teeth before diagnosing and addressing any issues that may be causing pain.

Other Potential Causes

Cats can stop eating for numerous reasons not directly related to their general physical health, including:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Recent vaccinations
  • Motion sickness due to travel
  • New food
  • Change in normal routines

Any of these issues should not cause your cat to refuse more than one or two meals. If your cat doesn't eat for any longer than this, it’s time to book an appointment with a veterinarian.

If my cat doesn't eat, when should I see a vet?

If your cat has skipped more than one or two meals, or is exhibiting any behaviors or symptoms that are causing you concern, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Because cats can get severely sick quickly, your furry friend’s long-term health may depend on early detection, diagnosis and treatment.

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.

If your cat won't eat for more than 24 hours or is displaying other concerning symptoms, contact our Douglasville Veterinary Hospital  right away.

New Patients Welcome

Douglasville Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Douglasville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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