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Cats cannot go without food for long. Their bodies are designed to consume many small meals through the day and if the pattern in interrupted, their physiology ends up going haywire. Fat is then sent from the reserve stores to the liver, where it is broken down to produce energy. If the liver is overwhelmed with excess fat, it can’t break it down and fatty deposits slowly infiltrate the organ which can be quite fatal if it isn’t reversed.
It is absolutely vital that pet owners keep a close eye on their furry feline’s food intake. If there is a significant drop, they need to act immediately.
Ruling out preliminary problems
- If your cat has stopped eating after a recent switch in diet, location or bowl, go back to what worked before.
- If your cat is on a dry food diet and the bag has been left open for more than a month, it might start to go bad. It is time for you to replace it with a fresh batch. On the other hand, if you just opened a new bag of food, there might be something wrong with that batch.
- Tempt your cat with something he cannot resist. A lot of cats prefer aromatic canned food that is warmed to body temperature. You can also try feeding him a bit of canned chicken, tuna or baby food.
- Petting them or hand feeding them might encourage some of them to eat.
What can you do if it doesn’t work?
If none of the above solutions work, it is time for you to make a visit to the veterinarian. Make sure you mention the time that has passed since your cat ate last. The vet must be seen within a period of 24 hours if it has been more than 2-3 days since the last meal. In most of the cases, a physical exam is enough to point to the cause of your cat’s loss in appetite. For instance if your cat has an abdominal tumor or a painful dental disease, it will become apparent during the first exam. However, in a lot of the cases, a complete workup including urinalysis, blood testing, diagnostic imaging, fecal examination and tissue biopsies are necessary before a proper diagnosis can be made.
If we were in a perfect world, the treatment would result in a rapid return of your cat’s appetite, but that’s not always the case. You can try an appetite stimulant like cyproheptadine or mirtazapine to help kitty along. If your cat does not start eating again within a week, an Esophagostomy tube will help. The surgery to place the tube is quick and makes it easy for owners to give all the water, food and medication their cats need for as long as necessary.