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

Discovering that your cat has abruptly ceased eating may cause concern. Determining whether your four-legged companion requires an immediate visit to the vet clinic can be challenging. Our vets in Marina del Rey outline key reasons cats stop eating and provide guidance on identifying emergencies.

Why would my cat stop eating?

Cats exhibit picky eating habits! Cat owners often search pet food shelves for enticing canned food and kibble flavors to please their furry friends. However, if your cat doesn't eat for over 24 hours, it may indicate an underlying health issue.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a common condition in older cats, potentially causing your fluffy friend to experience nausea and a resulting loss of appetite. Additional symptoms may include increased water consumption and frequent urination.

Cats commonly suffer from two forms of kidney disease. It is crucial to consult your vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment of this serious ailment. If your cat, aged over 7 years, has stopped eating or shows other signs of kidney disease, promptly schedule an appointment with your vet.

Dental Issues

Various dental problems may lead to your cat experiencing mouth pain and reluctance to eat. Painful conditions such as mouth injuries from foreign objects, dental abscesses, inflamed gums, advanced tooth decay, or loose/broken teeth can all contribute to significant discomfort.

If you suspect your cat is in pain, promptly take them to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. Once examined, your vet can conduct a comprehensive dental cleaning and identify any issues causing discomfort.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Gastrointestinal (GI) problems can make cats feel nauseated and reduce their appetite, just like in humans. Cats with GI issues may also show other symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and weight loss, though not always.

Common GI issues in cats include:

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

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

Gastrointestinal issues, including the ones listed above, are serious and may warrant emergency animal 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
  • A 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 longer, it's time to visit 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 exhibits any behaviors or symptoms you're concerned about, come to our emergency vet office in Marina del Rey immediately. 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.

If your cat won't eat and is experiencing concerning symptoms, contact our emergency veterinarian clinic in Marina del Rey immediately.

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Shane Veterinary Medical Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Marina del Rey companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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