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What to Do When Your Cat Won’t Eat

Cats can be finicky eaters. Some cats simply decide from one day to the next that they no longer like a food they’ve been happily eating before. This can be frustrating for cat parents, and it’s not something to take lightly. A cat who stops eating is always a concern, and a cat who hasn’t eaten anything for more than 24-48 hours may be developing hepatic lipidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition also known as fatty liver disease.

Rule out a medical issue

If your cat stops eating for more than 24-48 hours, an immediate visit to your veterinarian is in order. Inappetance can have numerous causes, and it’s important to identify the underlying condition.

Hepatic lipidosis – a serious consequence of loss of appetite

Hepatic lipidosis is almost always preceded by anorexia, a cat’s nearly total avoidance of food. When a body is undernourished or starved, it starts to metabolize its own fat reserves for energy. Cat’s bodies are not able to convert large stores of fat. When a cat is in starvation mode, the fat that is released to the liver is not processed efficiently and is simply stored there, leading to a fatty and low functioning liver. Cats who are already overweight are more prone to this condition than normal weight cats.

This condition requires aggressive treatment. If diagnosed early, and if the cat survives the first few days of treatment, the prognosis for a full recovery is excellent. If left untreated, the condition is fatal.

Is your cat finicky?

If your cat is finicky, there may be several reasons. Finicky eaters are made, not born. Kittens who are fed a variety of foods after being weaned from their mother develop varied tastes. Those fed the same food all the time often refuse unfamiliar foods later in life.

Something as simple as the wrong food bowl can cause finicky eating. Make sure bowls are shallow and wide so that the cat’s whiskers don’t touch the edge of the bowl. Keep bowls scrupulously clean and don’t use scented detergents to wash the bowls.

How to encourage your cat to eat

Encouraging a finicky eater requires patience and resourcefulness. The following tips may help:

• Offer foods that have a strong scent • Sprinkle freeze dried chicken or salmon on top. • Drizzle a little bit of tuna or clam juice drizzled over the food • Add small pieces of cooked cooked meat • Spread a spoonful of meat-based baby food (make sure it doesn’t contain onion powder) on top of the meal • Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the food (yes, the stuff in the green can) • Sprinkle nutritional yeast over the food

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