You might be asking, “Why is my cat not eating much but acting normal?”
When you conclude that your pet cat is not eating much and you must do something about it, think again.
For one of the commonest mistakes cat-owners make is to overfeed the cat, observed Joe Barges, a professor of medicine and nutrition in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Tennessee University.
Indeed, obesity is the leading nutritional illness that cats suffer from. If overfeeding is what you have been unknowingly doing, it is natural that your cat would refuse food.
None of us have unlimited appetite, do we?
So, before you worry about your cat’s loss of appetite, take a step back and think if you are giving it too much food.
When a kitten or cat is acting normal but refuses to eat, then this loss of appetite may be behavioral, such as anxiety, a change in surroundings, or stress. If the cat seems normal, then you should spice up their kibble and heat up canned feline food to encourage them to eat.
Most cats do jolly well with two meals a day, sometimes even one meal suffices. Also in these, make sure the portions sizes are right for your cat – do not supersize or undersize it.
Having said all that, if you still feel there is a problem and your cat is suddenly eating too little, there are a few things you can do to help the situation.
You may check with a vet if the cat has some underlying illness or you may change its diet for some time to see if it gains interest in food again or you may walk your cat more to burn energy and increase its appetite.
You may also give it some supplements as long as it eats less and just wait and watch how it goes.
There are a few reasons why cats lose appetite but still act normal, here are some of the common reasons:
1. Your cat is sick
Illness often robs us off our desire to eat. The same holds true for cats. If your cat is not eating much, chances are that there is something wrong inside.
The culprit can be infections, gastrointestinal issues, pancreatitis, kidney malfunction, and even cancer. However, less serious diseases can also make cats lose their appetite for some time.
For example, a tooth ache or a pain in the throat or some wound anywhere can result in a reduced eagerness to eat.
How to Get My Cat to Eat: What you can do
If your cat is sick, then there’s no need trying to feed it, but instead seek for ways to treat it.
Diseases come in various forms and severity. So if a disease is the cause for your cat’s appetite loss, it is always a good idea to visit a vet and get it diagnosed.
You never know how matters complicate if treatment is delayed.
Although all illnesses in cats are not worth losing your sleep for, but how can you tell for sure? A medical examination and tests are necessary to confirm the seriousness of the issue.
Remember, the sooner your furry pet receives treatment, the better its chances of recovery.
Once the illness is controlled, the appetite will return too. Even for less serious ailments, treatment is important to ensure a healthy cat.
2. Your cat is recently vaccinated
Loss of your cat’s appetite due to a recent vaccination is common. Any injection, for that matter, can have adverse side effects.
Same goes for vaccines, although they save lives and are practically unavoidable. So your cat needs to be vaccinated and for all you know, it may lose interest in eating for a while.
The good news is that this phase is temporary and won’t last more than 2-3 days.
What you can do
You can’t skip shots scheduled for your pet cat. Nor can you avoid the side effects that follow.
So, at max, what you can do is entice the cat with some canned tuna or its likes. Cats love these.
Therefore, this might be a smart way to make your cat gulp something down, instead of starving and suffering.
Since, vaccine-related appetite loss is mild and temporary; it subsides on its own. In case it does not, a vet visit becomes essential.
3. Your cat is psychologically stressed
Just like dogs, cats can undergo phases of psychological distress as well. They may get anxious, depressed, or scared.
Some cats take it easy, some do not. This latter type would often lose their desire to eat as before when their emotional state of mind is compromised.
Changes in its usual surroundings, new guests or new additions to a family, new object, or changes in its schedule can all lead a cat to feel threatened about its existence and consequently, eat less or nothing at all.
For a fact in context, about 3.4 million cats go into animal shelters every year, in the US alone.
How to Help a Stressed Cat. What you can do
Psychological issues are best handled with care, company, and patience. But to be sure that your cat has psychological problems, you first need to take your cat to the vet.
He will examine your cat to rule out chances of any physical illness.
You can then work upon improving the cat’s emotional well-being. Think when has your cat stopped eating much, what changes happened around that time, try to fix the changes as much as possible, and see if your cat’s appetite improves.
4. Your cat is not liking the food
Cats are famous for being too choosy and finicky. Some cats are nice eaters, obliging you at every meal.
But some others are too fussy and behave as if they would rather starve than eat all that you have dished out.
So when a cat is eating less, you got to figure out what is stopping it to eat lower than usual. Feline expert Tony Buffington offered some guidance in these cases. He said your cat may be resisting the change to a new diet you just introduced.
Think if you have changed its food routine anytime recently. Some house cats resist change by refusing to eat.
There is no harm in mixing two types of cat food at one meal, to make the change gradual.
Also, ensure the food you serve to your cat is at room temperature or fairly warm. Cats are fussy about food temperature. Cats also take time to adapt to new foods.
What you can do
Never starve your cat out of frustration that it is refusing to eat. Just be patient and offer items up to its taste for the time being. If your cat likes dry food, give it that, but from a reputed manufacturer.
If your cat likes canned food, give it that for some days. And if you cat likes people food, give it that.
Basically, feed your cat its preferred food for a while because starving can have serious consequences on the cat. If you must experiment, bring on the changes slowly and in small quantities.
But whatever you feed your cat, ensure it is well hydrated and is having sufficient water.
Also, never feed your cat more than what it needs for running its usual activities. Animal nutritionists feel that a house cat needs about 24 to 35 calories per day per pound to remain healthy.
5. Your cat doesn’t like the travel
Cats are, by and large, animals happy with habits. Anything beyond their routine or out of their habit stresses them out and loss of appetite is a manifestation of stress.
If you have shifted home or if you are traveling somewhere with your kitty, sometimes you may find them eating less or eating nothing at all.
Unfamiliar surroundings make them nervous, stressed.
They take time to adjust to these. Also sometimes cats undergo motion sickness while they travel by plane or car. This can also contribute to their lack of appetite.
What you can do
Okay, in this case, you can’t change the circumstances. You can neither stop your travels nor cancel shifting if you must.
You may leave your cat home while traveling, but unless there’s someone to take care of the creature there, it won’t be a good idea to leave it back alone.
Therefore, you may check with your vet what medicines would work in motion sickness. Also, you may switch to a more delectable diet for your cat during travel.
For example, you may offer your feline friend some of its favorite canned foods, although these are otherwise to be used in moderation.
Or you may give it its preferred choice of meat. Remember a simple thing: Cats are carnivores, so they love to eat meat and other proteins.
Chicken, cooked beef, turkey, and small portions of lean deli meat are often a cat’s favorite.
You can supplement that with fine quality cat biscuits (grain and cereal-free) to provide its daily dose of vitamins and other nutrients.
If your cat is a typical fish-lover, pamper it with some canned tuna, salmon or others while you are accommodating it to the new situation or on travel.
The idea is to treat your cat with some fancy stuff to get it back to normalcy and bring back its appetite.
Unless your cat is completely declining all these fancy offers or is showing signs of lethargy, you need not worry much. However, if you are in doubt, it’s best to see a vet.