What is causing my cat to lose his appetite?

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Sometimes a cat who previously loved his food, will turn up his nose. Cats are notoriously finicky and there can be many reasons, several of them benign, for him not wanting his food. As long as he is drinking water and eating a few bites, there probably isn’t much cause for concern. If it does go on for a few days, though, or if he’s losing weight, or not drinking (dehydration is a real medical emergency), a visit to the veterinarian is warranted.

Some reasons for lack of appetite include:

• Food freshness: Sometimes, food won’t be fresh or have a strange taste or odor. Check expiration dates and smell it for odd odors. Maybe the food needs to be exchanged for a fresher version. Or, maybe it is just time for a new brand.
• Vaccinations: Many cats will lose their appetite within hours of receiving a vaccination, and appetite loss can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
• Fear and distractions: If there’s a lot of noise around, or if he’s eating near other animals, he may be worried that they’ll “steal” his food. Keep his eating area quiet, peaceful and pleasant. If necessary, feed him separately from other pets. Never feed multiple animals from the same dish.
• Senior cats. Just the aging process alone can create a loss of appetite, but it can result in a serious health problems, because not eating for even a day or two can lead to liver failure. Stimulate his appetite with things like catnip. Add a tiny bit of tuna or sardines to his food to tempt him. If the food is canned, try microwaving it for a few seconds to bring out some tempting odors. If he still won’t eat, take him to your veterinarian for a checkup.
• Illness: if you see any signs of illness, whether it’s vomiting, diarrhea, increased or lack of thirst, increased or lack of urination, blood in urine or stool, weight loss or lethargy, take him to be examined by your veterinarian. The problem could be as simple as worms or colds—or something more serious such as kidney disease, diabetes or a thyroid problem.

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