Is every mealtime a battle between you and your cat? Or are they suddenly refusing the food they used to love?
When your cat goes on a hunger strike, they’re trying to tell you something. It’s up to you to find out what’s triggering their anorexia so you can hear those big, happy meows at mealtime once again.
Common Reasons Cats Starve Themselves
Many cats are strong-willed, and may starve themselves to death simply because they are not happy with their food choices. If you’re trying out a new food, you will have to keep a portion of the old food to slowly transition. Cats may also refuse to eat if their bowl is dirty or if their food has gone stale.
If there’s no obvious, food-related reason your cat has gone on a hunger strike, there could be an underlying medical reason.
Cats with dental pain may avoid eating because chewing is too painful. An obstruction in the gastrointestinal system is also a possibility. Tumors, aging, stress and cardiac failure can also ruin your cat’s appetite.
If you suspect your cat has a medical issue, only your vet can make a full diagnosis and find out how to get your cat to eat again.
How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating?
Cats, unlike dogs, can face serious health risks if they go even relatively short periods without food. A starving cat’s body will begin to turn stored fat cells into energy.
Without available protein to package the fat as it travels through the bloodstream, it can build up in the liver, causing hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease.
Overweight cats are more likely to suffer from hepatic lipidosis. Whether your cat is slim or hefty, make sure they eat at least once every 24 hours.
If you’re unable to get your cat to eat after 24 hours, see a vet. Hepatic lipidosis can cause permanent organ damage, and may even lead to death in just a matter of days.
It’s worth spending a few extra dollars to get the food your cat will eat, rather than spend hundreds of dollars in vet bills.
When to Worry
Some cats are genuinely finicky; others are simply self-regulating. If your cat eats at least a full meal each day and maintains a healthy weight, you don’t necessarily need to worry.
In a country where over 58% of pet cats are obese, it’s not surprising that many of us are accustomed to seeing overweight cats. So, when a cat is actually at a healthy weight, we might think it’s too skinny.
Your cat should have a waist, and a few of their ribs might be visible when they stretch. Your cat should have a distinguishable neck between their head and body.
My Cat Only Eats Dry Food!
It’s not uncommon for cats to prefer cheap dry cat food over more nutritious options. Dry cat food is typically sprayed with flavorings that smell irresistible to your finicky feline. When dry food is available, your cat may not settle for anything else.
You may need to mix your dry food with the new food at first. Start with just a teaspoon of the new food on the first day, then slowly transition each day until your cat accepts their new cuisine.
My Cat Only Eats Wet Food!
If you can’t afford to consistently feed wet food, or you find it easier to leave out dry food for your cat to graze, you may notice that your cat is holding out for the “good stuff.”
Wet food is actually much more nutritious for your cat than dry, even if it’s from a cheaper brand. Canned food has higher meat protein content, and typically has fewer carbohydrates than dry.
Since cats derive most of their hydration from their food, a preference for wet may indicate that your cat is feeling dehydrated. Dehydration cat get in the way of your cat’s appetite.
You can soak dry cat food in water or mix it with wet food. However, dry cat food will quickly breed bacteria once moistened. Your cat will need to chow down in 10-15 minutes before the food could make them sick.
Provide wet food as often as you can. When the food goes on sale, be sure to stock up. Unopened canned food will last a long time.
Make Sure Your Cat Eats Even When You’re Not Home
Even if you’re only going away for a couple days, don’t risk your cat’s health and well-being by leaving them unattended for more than 24 hours. Just because you leave out plenty of food, doesn’t mean your cat will eat it, and you could come home to a seriously ill cat. Schedule your Ready Pet Go pet sitter to visit your cat at least once a day. Your pet sitter will make sure you cat is eating and can get your cat to the vet if there are any problems. Contact us today to schedule a Meet & Greet.