My Cat Won't Eat! Should I Be Worried?

We know how worrying it can be when your beloved cat stops eating. It could be hard at times to make the decision to bring your kitty to an emergency pet clinic or to wait for an appointment with your primary care vet. Here our veterinarians in Hoquiam discuss the reasons why your cat might not be eating and how to know if it's a veterinary emergency.

Why Won't My Cat Eat?

Cats are famous for being picky eaters. There are many cat parents that have had to continuously browse the pet food isles in search of delicious flavours and food s their kitties will love.

Although, if your cat won't eat for a period of time longer than 24 hours, there could be an underlying health problem causing some trouble.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is common in older cats and could make your feline companion feel nauseous, which could lead to them refuse their food. Other symptoms include drinking lots of water and urinating frequently.

There are two kinds of kidney disease that are common in cats. Only your vet will be able to diagnose and treat this serious disease. If your older cat (over 7 years of age) has stopped eating or is exhibiting other symptoms of kidney disease, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Dental Issues

Dental problems in cats can often lead to severe mouth pain, resulting in a refusal to eat. An injury to your kitty's mouth caused by a foreign object, inflamed gums, dental abscess, advanced tooth decay or broken or loose teeth can all cause a lot of pain.

If you believe or have a reason to suspect your cat is experiencing pain in their mouth, bring them to your vet as quickly as possible for a diagnosis and treatment. Your vet will conduct a comprehensive examination and dental cleaning of your cat’s teeth and diagnose any issues that could be causing pain.

Gastrointestinal Problems

As with people, gastrointestinal (GI) problems can make cats feel nauseated and lead them to lose their appetite as a result. Cats suffering from GI issues will often (but not always) display other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, constipation and weight loss.

Common GI issues in cats include:


  • Gastroenteritis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Colitis
  • Parasites
  • Cancer
  • Changes in your cat’s intestinal bacteria
  • A foreign object, such as a piece of plastic or plant, in your cat’s digestive tract

If you see your cat experiencing diarrhea, weight loss, constipation, or vomiting on top of their loss of appetite take them to the vet.

Gastrointestinal issues, such as the ones listed above, are serious and could warrant emergency care. Getting a diagnosis and early treatment for these GI issues is important for your cat’s health and should be done as early as possible.

Other Possible Reasons

Cats could refuse to eat for a range of reasons that aren't directly related to their overall physical health, including:

  • New food
  • A shift in normal routines
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Motion sickness due to travel
  • Recent vaccinations

These issues should only cause your cat to skip two meals at most - no more. If your cat refuses to eat any longer, it’s time for a visit to the vet.

When to See a Vet If Your Cat Refuses to Eat

If your cat has skipped more than one or two meals or is exhibiting any behaviors or symptoms you’re concerned about, contact your vet right away, or visit your nearest emergency vet clinic. Call ahead if possible.

Cats can quickly become seriously ill, making early diagnosis and treatment critical to your feline friend’s long-term health.

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 is not eating schedule an appointment with our Hoquiam vets who will be able to help.