What are the main reasons that a cat stops eating?

Cats don’t eat for reasons from the most commonly seen pickiness to injury, dental problems or illness. Cats are pretty independent, so it’s often difficult for their owners to tell if they’re sick—but not eating for two days or more is definitely not normal, and it’s good reason to visit your veterinarian.

Here are some possible reasons for your cat not eating:

• Respiratory problems: These infections dull a cat’s smell, which, in turn, affects the appetite. However, there could also be another infection or virus or disease that cause upset stomach, discomfort and pain, so please don’t try to diagnose this yourself—have a veterinarian do it.
• Dental problems: tooth decay and injury. Tooth and mouth problems such as gum disease can cause pain and discomfort to the point to where the cat stops eating.
• Hairballs: Normal grooming habits result in an accumulation of hair in the cat’s stomach, a hairball, and when that hairball reaches a certain size, it can cause stomach upset and nausea. Ultimately, this leads to the cat bringing up the hairball but, for the few hours before the hairball’s emergence, a cat can experience discomfort and lack of appetite. This is especially prevalent in long-haired breeds, such as the Ragdoll.
• Changes in home life: Cats don’t like change and anything, such as the departure of a family member, the arrival of guests, a new baby, or a new pet can be upsetting and distressing to some cats and cause for stress and anxiety.
• Medication: Many medications result in feelings of nausea and stomach pain, particularly if they’re given on an empty stomach.
• Anorexia: Once a cat stops eating, an accumulation of stomach acids, combined with low blood sugar, can result in feelings of nausea and general malaise. Generally, the longer the cat goes without feeding, the less responsive she is to food—so don’t let her go into this downward spiral!
• Pickiness: If your cat receives a clean bill of health from your veteirnarian, you can safely assume she’s being finicky. See our articles on ways to get around this.

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