Your Cat Won’t Eat or Drink – Causes and Solutions

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Even after they had abandoned the wildlife behind to stay by humans’ side, cats have never been completely domesticated. They are usually unpredictable and often act on a whim. Therefore, many owners would attribute their strange behaviors (including stop eating) to this reason.

That is true, in a way. However, if your cat won’t eat or drink for more than a day or two, this could cause fatal consequences. As these picky creatures’ owners, it is our duty to find the potential causes, detrimental effects, as well as the resolutions for it.

Possible Reasons Why Your Cat Won’t Eat or Drink

The causes of this worrisome issue are various and could range from simplest, most harmless to most intricate and fatal one.

Old Age

Cats’ lifespan usually lasts for approximately 20 years. When they reach the 10-year milestone, they are officially senior cats, with weaker bodies and sufferings from old-aged diseases. Even their mental health may change during this stage of life. That’s why there are foods specially made for senior cats.

Cats can be grumpier when they get old. This is due to the fact that they have arthritis, which makes moving outright difficult and painful for them, let alone standing upright and eat or drink. What’s more, if old cats aren’t taken special care, they can experience dental problems that cause their teeth to fall out and lead to their refusal to eat. In this case, you should consider feeding your feline friend dental treats for cats.

Strange Food

Some newly-weaned kittens are fed with a wide range of food, while others are only introduced to one kind of cat food (either canned or dried) throughout their lives. When the cat grows up with one single food type, such faithful often remains for a long time into the cat’s adulthood, and they would rather starve themselves than ingesting alien sustenance.

Wrong Stuff or Location

It isn’t much exaggerated to say that cats are haughty fluff-balls. They want everything in their own orders. And they won’t hesitate to skip meals if their feeding and drinking bowls are changed or moved - too close to the litter box, next to an unfamiliar object or too near another pet’s bowls, etc.

Unfamiliar or Unpleasant Scent

Cats have an acute sense of smell. Your cat might stop eating or drinking when he detects a funny smell in his dining items. In the cat’s logic, all these ruckuses are probably because his human was too lazy to clean his bowls thoroughly.

Mental or Physical Issues

These health problems can be anything, from stress to an external injury or an internal-organ pain.

Like humans, animals can suffer from stress and depression from time to time. When they do, they lose their appetite as well. This could stem from the loss of their owners, a change of the living environment, or after they’re scared or punished.

Otherwise, your furry friends may be the victims of digestive problems or dental problems that make mundane tasks (like chewing and swallowing) too painful to do. In this case, you should consider feeding your cat foods specially made for digestive problems.

Or “Just Because Cause!”

By default, feline’s nature is cunning and whimsical. If your docile cat suddenly acts out, you may want to recall whether you have recently feed him with something better-scented than usual.

Or that he has figured out that every time he skips meals, you will spoil him with good food and affectionate gestures. This makes he thinks that you’ll shower him with that same special treatment again. As a result, he won’t eat or drink until he gets what he wants.

What Would Be at Risk When Your Cat Won’t Eat or Drink?

One of the immediate dangers is Hepatic Lipidosis (HL), or to simply put it – fatty liver disease. When a cat won’t eat or drink for a long period of time, there won’t be energy left in his body to metabolize the fat. Instead, the fat is reserved and stored gradually inside his liver, results in HL.

The chubbier the cat is, the more susceptible to acquiring HL he will become. Tagged along with HL are jaundice and eye-related diseases, which are extremely fatal and may result in death unless quickly and properly treated.

How to Deal with Cats Who Won’t Eat or Drink?

- To get rid HL of your precious fluffy pal, you will need the help of various nutrients. In other words, if your cat’s body is too weak to ward off HL, you’ll need to “refuel” him with lots of water and food. Specifically, plenty of protein-contained food so that his body will have enough energy to metabolize.

- Try not to move your bossy feline’s stuff around too often, or he might take offense (possibly) and develop an unwillingness to eat. If this approach is carried out and still, you could give him a change of scenery by taking him out to meet other cat fellows in the park or to your neighbor’s house.

- Spoil your feline fella a bit with wonderful-smelling things like sprinkling cheese or dried chicken meat. However, because cats avoid regular intake due to the want of being fed yummier food, you must cease to let he have what he wants as soon as your picky cat resumes eating again.

However, if you ever need to change your picky friend’s food, you should do it gradually.

- You shouldn’t mix the pills into your cat’s food too regularly. Certain medicines whose smells are too pungent will drown even the most tasteful aroma of food. Such results in your cat may never try said food again. Instead, you can apply medical treats (like Temptation treats) and never forget to carefully wash the cats’ bowls thoroughly before feeding them.

- Among other statistics, dehydration rate in senior cats is significantly higher than that in kittens and young cats. Therefore, you should take note and place drinking bowls around your house for the aged fluff-ball. Otherwise, your cats will see it too labor-intensive to get to the bowl and can abstain from drinking water entirely.

- Placing feeding tubes (NG tube, PEG tube, E-tube) for cats which suffer from severe anorexia is also a solution. This method is, however, not recommended to apply at home unless you have appropriate veterinary knowledge.

- Last but not least, if you see any strange behavior of your cat, you should visit a vet.


Unlike dogs who devote unconditionally and expect little in return, for millennia now cats’ trademark attitude remains little changed. That’s why we often dismiss their inner illnesses for being aloft and needy whenever the little fluff-balls start to act out.

During such trying time, however, fretting won’t bring anyone any good. Instead, you should stay calm and closely observe any symptoms your cat. That way, you can determine whether your cat won’t eat is due to his tendency to just goofing around, or a serious need for visiting the veterinary clinic.

But quite often, it will soon fizzle out in time.

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