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

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

If you notice that your cat is not eating, you may feel concerned and wonder whether this qualifies as a veterinary emergency. Our vets in Gaithersburg share some common reasons your cat may stop eating and how to tell if your cat's case is an emergency. 

Why won't my cat eat?

Cats are commonly known for being choosy eaters. Many cat owners have experienced the disappointment of finding their cat's food dish still full. However, it is important to note that if your cat has not eaten for more than 24 hours, it could be an indication of an underlying health problem.

Dental Issues 

If your kitty is bothered by dental issues, she may experience pain in her mouth and refuse to eat. Loose or broken teeth, a dental abscess, inflamed gums, a foreign object or injury in the mouth, advanced tooth decay, or other issues may also cause significant pain, prompting your cat to stop eating. 

If you suspect your cat might be suffering from mouth pain, contact your vet as soon as possible for an appointment so they can diagnose and treat the issue. 

After your vet performs a full dental examination and cleaning of your kitty's teeth, they will diagnose and address any other issues that may be causing pain.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Like humans, cats can suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) problems that can lead to loss of appetite and nausea. Symptoms like constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss are frequent but not always apparent.

Common GI issues in cats include:

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

If you observe that your cat is having constipation, diarrhea, losing weight, or vomiting along with a decrease in their appetite, it is necessary to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian.

Gastrointestinal issues such as the ones listed above are serious, and your cat may require emergency care. Diagnosing and treating these issues early on is critical to your cat's health. 

Kidney Disease 

Kidney disease is relatively common in older cats. The condition may cause your kitty to feel nauseated, leading to a refusal to eat. Other symptoms include urinating frequently and drinking an excessive amount of water. 

There are two types of kidney disease that can affect cats. It is important to take your pet to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan if they are experiencing this serious illness. If your cat is over 7 years old and showing any symptoms other than a temporary loss of appetite, make an appointment with your vet as soon as you can.

Other Potential Causes

Cats may stop eating for many reasons not directly related to their general physical health, including:

  • Recent vaccinations 
  • New food 
  • Change in normal routines 
  • Anxiety or depression 
  • Motion sickness due to travel 
  • New food

These issues should not cause your cat to refuse more than one or two meals. If your cat won't eat for any longer than this, it's time to book an appointment with a veterinarian.

If my cat won't eat, when should I see a vet?

If your cat has missed more than one or two meals or is showing any concerning behaviors or symptoms, please reach out to us to schedule an appointment.

It's important to keep a close eye on your cat's health because they can become very ill very quickly. Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment are crucial for maintaining your furry friend's long-term well-being.

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 has stopped eating for over 24 hours or is showing any worrying symptoms, please contact our vets at Gaithersburg for more information or to book an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Veterinary Referral Associates is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Gaithersburg companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (301) 926-3300