Cat Not Eating Much But Acting Normal –
Why, What to Do & When To Be Concerned

cat not eating much but acting normal

March 28, 2022

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As a pet parent, it is normal to be concerned when we notice a change in our pet’s behavior. And often, it can be hard to determine whether everything is alright or if you should be taking your pet to the vet’s clinic asap.

Cats are picky eaters and sensitive creatures that may react to even the smallest changes in their environment. It is not uncommon for them to lose their appetite.

But what if your cat is not eating much but acting normal? At what point should you be worried, and what signs should you look out for?

This article will explain everything you need to know so that you know exactly:

  • Why your cat may be eating less
  • What you can do to get your cat eating
  • When you should be concerned

Let’s find out more!

Lack Of Appetite In Cats – The Basics

When your cat refuses food, the first thought that comes to mind is that it is finicky. It is known that not all cats eat whatever you put in front of them. The food has to have the right smell, taste, and texture.

You don’t have to worry if one day your cat refuses to eat or has a decreased appetite! A cat’s appetite can change from one day to another. Today your cat may eat more because it has been running around the house all day, and tomorrow it may be less active and require less food.

Cats are very good at hiding their suffering.
– Dr. Iulia Mihai, DVM

Cats can experience a lack of appetite for many reasons, from boredom, stress, fever, dental or digestive problems to more severe illnesses, such as kidney disease or cancer. Other times, if you haven’t spayed or neutered your cat, it may be in heat and will eat less, which is normal behavior.

Remember that cats are very good at hiding their suffering! If they do not consume food for 2-10 days, they are at great risk for developing hepatic lipidosis, a disease of the liver that can be fatal for your cat. Therefore, keep an eye on your cat’s appetite!

Reasons Why Your Cat Is Not Eating As Much As Normal

A healthy cat should eat about 24 to 35 calories a day per pound, divided into 2-5 meals.

The number of meals per day depends on several factors that can influence the amount of food a cat eats in a day. On some days, cats may be hungrier, while on others, their appetite may be reduced.

Appetite, diet, and eating conditions also depend very much on the breed. A Burmese cat will be much more finicky than a mixed breed cat. So, keep this in mind as well!

Common reasons why your cat may be eating less

1. Temperature/season

The temperature of the environment influences the thermal comfort of a cat. As a result, it may eat more or less. In summer, when it is hot outside, cats’ appetite is generally lower. If it’s summer, and you notice that your cat is eating less than usual, you don’t need to be alarmed as it may be due to the heat.

2. The cat is a picky eater

Some cats are pickier than others. Not all cats will eat whatever you put in their bowl. Some cats may lose their appetite if you offer a new brand of food or there has been the slightest change to what they eat normally. Others will just get bored at some point with the same food every day.

3. Changing their diet

If you change your cat’s diet suddenly, it is normal for your pet not to want to eat all the food, especially when it comes to veterinary diets, which are not so tasty. It is not recommended to change your cat’s food suddenly or too often as it may cause stress for your cat! Any change in your cat’s diet should be done gradually.

lack of apetite in cats

4. Age

As cats get older, their appetite and eating habits can change. While some lose interest in food, others stop eating at all. For senior cats, it is important to increase their caloric intake to keep them in physiological parameters as they tend to eat less and lose weight. You should be worried when your geriatric cat does not consume food at all or eats but continues to lose weight.

5. Stress

Stress can be caused by an infinite variety of factors. Shy cats, those suffering from separation anxiety, those who have had a change in the environment, or those who are sensitive to noise may start eating less due to stress. Make sure you are always patient with your cat, especially if you know that your kitty is more sensitive than others.

6. Motion sickness

Cats suffering from motion sickness will tend to eat less when you return home with them. They may vomit or feel nauseous, but these symptoms will resolve in a few days.

7. Vaccination

Usually, the side effects of vaccines include a decrease in or lack of appetite, among others. These symptoms should not last from more than a few hours to a day.

8. Fever

When an animal is sick, the chemistry of its brain changes, increasing the production of cytokines – chemicals that can reduce appetite. If your cat is sick, it is normal for them to lose their appetite and eat less.

9. Pain

Whether we are talking about pain in the oral cavity or other areas, pain creates discomfort. Once cats feel uncomfortable, they will not eat as much as they usually do.

More severe reasons why your cat may be eating less

In addition to less severe reasons for losing their appetite, cats may also be eating less for reasons that require a visit to the veterinary office immediately.

Decrease or lack of appetite is one of the first symptoms of many internal diseases, such as:

  • kidney failure,
  • diabetes,
  • liver disease,
  • digestive disorders,
  • cancer,
  • vitamin deficiency,
  • hyperthyroidism,

When Should I Worry About My Cat Not Eating Much?
Vet Explains

When your cat has not eaten at all for 24-48 hours, you should be concerned and pay a visit to the vet.

Some cats may still act normal even if they haven’t eaten in over 24 hours, but usually, cats are less active if they lack the energy they normally get from food.

If you notice that your cat is eating less, you can monitor it for a maximum of two days to see if it resolves on its own or progresses to something more severe.

If, in addition to decreased appetite, your cat experiences symptoms such as:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing – shortness of breath, wheezing
  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Urinary problems
  • Changed eating habits, such as
  • Keeping the food in its mouth
  • Spitting the food out
  • Pawing at its mouth
  • Drinking more water
  • Fever

…it is time to take your pet to the veterinarian.

Decreased appetite is one of the first symptoms the owner usually notices in a sick cat. If there is nothing severe going on with your cat, its decreased appetite will resolve on its own. In more serious cases, it can lead to the cat stopping eating and starting to lose weight.

Vet’s Tip: A cat can survive without food for about two weeks. However, leaving a cat unfed for more than 48 hours is not recommended because of potentially fatal hepatic lipidosis, which can develop quickly. If you suspect that your cat has not eaten for one day or more, consult your veterinarian.

What You Can Do If Your Cat Is Not Eating Much But Acting Normal

If your cat is not eating but acting normal, you can try to encourage it to eat by offering its favorite food and treats. Sometimes a cat’s appetite may return once it gets a taste of something it finds delicious and appetizing. As carnivores, cats may be especially interested in some cooked meat or chicken.

You should also make sure your cat’s food bowl is in a quiet area and it has the opportunity to feed undisturbed. Try to minimize any stress factors like loud noises, visitors, and other pets.

In addition, here are a few tips that help you avoid situations where your cat may lose its appetite.

  • If you enjoy traveling with your cat, make sure you always take its regular food with you. The stress of being transported and a sudden change in its diet are two factors that can make your cat eat less food.
  • Don’t feed your cat cold food; it should be room temperature before serving it to your kitty. You can leave the food out on the table for a while, warm it up in the microwave, or add a little warm water or broth.
  • If you give your cat its medicine along with its food, and the medicine smells bad (cats have an excellent sense of smell), it may negatively associate the food with the medicine and, as a result, lose its appetite.
  • Cats don’t like changes, no matter how small. Some changes that may seem insignificant to us may lead to changes in your pet’s eating habits. A change in a cat’s daily routine is done gradually, not all at once.

What you can do if you see your cat eating less than usual but still acting normal, in short:

  • Let it rest, especially if your cat is stressed or was recently vaccinated
  • Purchase a diffuser to help them relax (FELIWAY Classic Cat Calming Pheromone Diffuser is our favorite. Check the price.
  • Try some delicious foods or treats to see if your cat will eat
  • Warm up the food slightly
  • Add treats, wet food, tuna juice, or broth on top of its usual food
  • Blend or mush your pet’s food, especially if it has difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Ensure your pet has a balanced and healthy diet
  • Reduce stress
  • Let your cat have access to a calm and sheltered area, especially if you own more than one pet
  • Keep the litter box away from the food and water bowl
  • Provide your cat with plenty of water and food
  • Take your pet regularly to the vet

If all the things you have tried didn’t lead to any improvement, visit the vet as soon as possible. Severe weight loss caused by loss of appetite puts a lot of strain on a cat’s liver and can lead to other severe health problems.

Summing Up

If you see your cat not eating much but acting normal, you can monitor it for 24-48 hours to see if the situation will resolve on its own. Cats can go a couple of days without food, so waiting for a maximum of two days will not cause any harm.

However, if you witness any other symptoms or your cat is not behaving like it normally does, you should take your pet to the vet as soon as you can.

Although cats often lose their appetite due to small changes in their surroundings or food, lack of appetite can also be a sign of a more serious medical problem.

Therefore, if you’re worried about your cat’s wellbeing, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and pay a visit to the vet clinic.

Vet’s Comment

Unfortunately, cat owners often take their kitty to the vet’s office after they haven’t been eating for several days.

What every cat owner should remember is that cats do not show their suffering! They are not like dogs!

Usually, when a cat starts eating less and less, it has underlying problems, which will not resolve on their own. It is very important to get your cat to eat again as soon as possible. Food is fuel to the body!

Cats that eat less or lose their appetite may also cause stress for the owner. But often, with a little care and a proper diet, your cat will recover on its own and return to its eating habits in no time, and you can relax!

It is important to treat decreased appetite as a high-priority situation and get your cat back on its feet.

– Dr. Iulia Mihai, DVM

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your pet’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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