Why Won’t My Cat Eat or Drink?

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

If your cat isn’t eating or drinking, it could be a sign of a serious health problem. Learn about the potential causes and what you can do to help your cat.

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Dehydration is a serious medical condition that can happen to cats of any age, breed, or size. If your cat is not eating or drinking, it is important to take them to the vet right away as they could easily become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to other serious health problems, so it is important to catch it early.

Symptoms of dehydration

Dehydration can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

-Dry mouth
-Sunken eyes
-Increased thirst
-Decreased urination
-Dry skin
-Lethargy or weakness
-Muscle cramps

Causes of dehydration

There are many possible causes of dehydration in cats, including:
-Not enough fresh water available
-Aversion to drinking water due to poor dental health
-Certain medical conditions that cause increased water loss
-Excessive heat or exercise
-Diarrhea or vomiting
-Lack of appetite

Treating dehydration

Dehydration must be treated by restoring water and electrolytes to the body. The timing and method of administration depends on the severity of the dehydration. In general, mild to moderate cases can be treated at home by encouraging your cat to drink fluids and giving her oral rehydration solutions. More severe cases may require subcutaneous or intravenous fluids administered by a veterinarian.

Oral rehydration solutions are available at pet stores and some pharmacies. They typically come in powder form that you mix with water, or they may be premixed. Be sure to follow the package directions for mixing, and make sure your cat drinks all of the solution. Adding a pinch of salt or sugar may help to encourage drinking.

If your cat does not like the taste of plain water, you can add a small amount of chicken broth or tuna juice to make it more palatable. It is also important to make sure your cat has access to fresh, clean water at all times. If she is not drinking enough on her own, you may need to syringe feed her fluids until she is able to drink on her own again.

Your veterinarian may recommend a commercial rehydration solution such as Pedialyte or resolve dehydration with subcutaneous or intravenous fluids given in the hospital


Anorexia is defined as the refusal to eat or drink. This can be a result of a multitude of things including stress, boredom, dental problems, or a change in routine. If your cat is showing signs of anorexia, it is important to take them to the vet to rule out any underlying health problems.

Symptoms of anorexia

Anorexia is an eating disorder that can have devastating effects on your cat’s health. It is marked by a complete loss of interest in food and a decreased appetite. Anorexia can be caused by many different things, including stress, illness, injury, and old age. If your cat is showing any of the following symptoms, they may be suffering from anorexia:

-Loss of appetite
-Weight loss
-Poor coat condition
– dehydration
-Increased urination

If you think your cat may be suffering from anorexia, take them to the vet as soon as possible. Anorexia can lead to serious health problems if left untreated, so it is important to get your cat the help they need as soon as possible.

Causes of anorexia

There are many reasons why your cat may not be eating or drinking. It could be a sign of illness, such as kidney disease or hyperthyroidism. It could also be a side effect of certain medications. Stress can also cause anorexia, so if there have been any changes in your cat’s environment (a new pet, a move, etc.), that could be the cause. If your cat is eating and drinking less than normal, or has stopped altogether, make an appointment with your veterinarian to find out the cause.

Treating anorexia

There are a few things you can do to encourage your cat to eat and drink:

-Encourage your cat to drink by placing water bowls in different areas of the house.
-Warm up your cat’s food to release more aroma.
-Add wet food or canned tuna to your cat’s diet.
-Hide your cat’s food in toys or puzzle feeders.

Gastrointestinal problems

One of the most common reasons for a cat not to eat or drink is gastrointestinal problems. If your cat is not eating or drinking, it could be a sign of something more serious. If you think your cat may have a gastrointestinal problem, take it to the vet right away.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal problems

There are a variety of gastrointestinal problems that can afflict your cat. Some of the more common problems include:

-Hairballs: Cats groom themselves by licking their fur, and sometimes they end up ingesting too much hair. This can form a hairball in their stomach, which can cause vomiting, constipation, and loss of appetite.
-Inflammatory bowel disease: This is a condition that causes inflammation in the intestines, which can lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and lack of appetite.
-Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency: This is a condition where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough enzymes to properly digest food. This can lead to malnutrition and weight loss.

If your cat is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet so that they can get the proper diagnosis and treatment.

Causes of gastrointestinal problems

There are many potential causes of gastrointestinal (GI) problems in cats, ranging from dietary indiscretion to more serious conditions such as liver disease or cancer. In some cases, the exact cause may not be determined. However, regardless of the underlying cause, cats with GI problems often share certain clinical signs, including inappetance (anorexia), vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Dietary indiscretion: Dietary indiscretion refers to a cat eating something that is not part of her usual diet or that is difficult to digest. Common causes include eating too fast, eating garbage or spoiled food, overeating, eating grass or other plants and sudden changes in diet. Dietary indiscretion is usually not a serious problem and will resolve on its own with no long-term effects.

Infections: Infections are a common cause of GI problems in cats. They can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites and can lead to vomiting and/or diarrhea. Infections can be acquired from contaminated food or water, contact with other infected animals or vectors such as fleas or ticks. In some cases, antibiotics may be required to clear the infection.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): IBD is a term used to describe a group of chronic gut disorders that involve inflammation of the digestive tract lining. IBD can be caused by various factors including food allergies, infections, stress and immune system abnormalities. Clinical signs include weight loss, vomiting and/or diarrhea (which may be bloody), abdominal pain and poor appetite. Cats with IBD often require lifelong management with specific diets and/or medications.

Liver disease: Liver disease is another common cause of GI problems in cats. The liver has many important functions, including filtering toxins from the blood and producing bile for fat digestion. When liver function is impaired, toxins build up in the blood which can lead to vomiting and/or diarrhea as well as other clinical signs such as yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), increased thirst and urination (polyuria/polydipsia or PU/PD), weight loss and appetite changes. Liver disease can be caused by various conditions including infections, inflammatory disorders, cancer and toxicity. Treatment depends on the underlying cause but may require hospitalization for supportive care such as IV fluids and nutritional support.

Cancer: Cancer is another potential cause of GI problems in cats although it is relatively rare compared to other causes such as dietary indiscretion or infections. Cancerous tumors can develop anywhere along the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus but are most commonly found in the stomach or intestines. Clinical signs vary depending on the size and location of the tumor but can include vomiting, diarrhea (which may be bloody), weight loss, poor appetite and lethargy

Treating gastrointestinal problems

If your cat is having gastrointestinal problems, there are a few things you can do to help. First, make sure that your cat has access to fresh water at all times. If your cat is not drinking enough water, it can lead to dehydration, which can make gastrointestinal problems worse.

You should also talk to your veterinarian about whether or not you should change your cat’s food. In some cases, switching to a food that is easier to digest can help improve gastrointestinal problems.

Finally, you may need to give your cat medication to help treat the underlying cause of the gastrointestinal problems. For example, if your cat has an infection, you may need to give them antibiotics. If your cat has inflammatory bowel disease, you may need to give them steroids or other medication to reduce inflammation.

Dental problems

One of the most common reasons why cats stop eating or drinking is because they are experiencing problems with their teeth. Dental disease is one of the most common health problems in cats, and it can be very painful. If your cat is having trouble eating or drinking, it’s important to take them to the vet right away to get checked out.

Symptoms of dental problems

There are a number of symptoms that may indicate your cat is having dental problems, including:

– Excessive drooling
– Bad breath
– Discolored teeth
– Bleeding gums
– Difficulty eating or drinking
– pawing at the mouth
– Swelling around the jaw

Causes of dental problems

Dental problems are one of the most common health problems in cats. In fact, more than 70% of cats over the age of 3 have some form of dental disease.

There are a number of different reasons why a cat might develop dental problems. The most common cause is plaque build-up. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on teeth, and it’s made up of bacteria, food particles, and saliva. If plaque isn’t removed, it can harden into calculus (or tartar), which is much more difficult to remove.

Other causes of dental problems in cats include gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), periodontitis (inflammation around the tooth), tooth resorption (breakdown of the tooth structure), and trauma to the teeth.

Certain health conditions can also increase a cat’s risk for dental problems. These include diabetes, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

Treating dental problems

Dental problems are one of the most common reasons cats visit the vet. And while good oral hygiene is important for all cats, it’s especially crucial for those with diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease—conditions that are made worse by dental infections.

The best way to prevent dental problems is to brush your cat’s teeth regularly—ideally daily, but at least a few times a week. This will remove plaque before it can harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a vet.

If your cat already has tartar buildup, your vet may recommend a professional cleaning under anesthesia. This involves scaling the teeth to remove the tartar and polishing them to smooth any remaining rough spots. The vet may also recommend extractions of any teeth that are too damaged to be saved.


Your cat may be stressed for a variety of reasons. It could be a change in its routine, a new pet in the house, or something as simple as a loud noise outside. When a cat is stressed, it may not eat or drink as much as usual.

Symptoms of stress

There are many possible symptoms of stress in cats, and not all of them will be obvious. Some signs that your cat may be stressed include:

– Changes in appetite
– changes in sleeping patterns
– decreased energy levels
– increased vocalization
– increased aggression or irritability
– self-destructive behaviors like excessive grooming or licking

Causes of stress

There are many possible causes of stress in cats, and it can be difficult to identify the source of the problem. Some common causes of stress include:
-Changes in the home, such as a new baby, pet, or furniture
-Lack of socialisation or interaction with their owner
-Lack of mental stimulation, such as opportunities to hunt or play
-Fear or anxiety caused by loud noises, such as fireworks or thunderstorms
-Pain or illness

If you think your cat is experiencing stress, it is important to consult with your veterinarian. They will be able to rule out any medical causes and help you develop a plan to reduce your cat’s stress levels.

Treating stress

Once you’ve identified the root of your cat’s stress, you can begin to work on mitigating the effects. Some solutions are simple, like buying a scratching post for an indoor cat who’s feeling cooped up. Others require more time and effort, such as moving a food bowl if your cat feels intimidated by another pet during mealtimes. In some cases, medication may be necessary to help your cat relax.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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