Cat Not Eating Much But Acting Normal:Ultimate Guide

When a cat starts not eating much but to act normal, it signals that some odd thing going on our cat’s lifestyle. The sudden loss of appetite can cause from severe medical issue to emotional breakdown.

Why cat not eating much but acting normal?

Cat not eating much but acting normal behavior can be caused due to three main reasons triggered through appetite disorders. Main reasons can be named as medical problems, recent vaccinate effects, and psychological problems.

In this post, I will explain these three reasons in details and proper ways to address them. Moreover, I’ll list out some practices to prevent happening something like this in future.

How we did our research

We checked with some of best-known veterinarian hospital knowledge bases and research news journals such as Chico Hospital for Cats, WebMD and Science Daily. The collected information was analyzed with the reported similar situations with several other cat owners.

Further, we got lot of useful experience and info from our cat forums, pet groups and related web posts. Finally, we narrowed down each important factors and noted them with the solutions that you can follow.

Why my cat not eating much but acting normal?

As I have mentioned in my article introduction, there are three underline reasons.

However, this abnormal behaviour can be considered as one of the ways that your cat was showingloss of appetite”. Possible without any apparent reason to suspect.

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How to identify that your cat not eating much but acting normal, is related to loss of appetite?

According to Dr. Linda A. Ross, DVM, associate professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, it may not easy to differentiate your cat’s loss of appetite easily.

Since the cat is not showing any physical symptom or activeness, the appetite problem may not be visible at first.

Especially when you have more than one cat in your house.

In this case, look out for these observations in your cat’s behavior;

  • Cat not eating as usual(or try to eat litter) and this behaviour is continuing for at least two days
  • Slightly reduced weight
  • Reduced enthusiastic feeling towards its favourite treats or cat foods
  • Even she reject foods, no sign of frequent vomiting or diarrhoea.

If you feel your cat going under above mentioned observations, then probably, it is an early stage of warning of some possible medical cases.

Now let’s look into our three major reasons that cause this kind of behaviour and solutions to follow.

1. Medical problems

If you noticed that your cat not eating much and especially having some weight loss (for 3 days or more), then this is a significant indicator that there may be a health problem. Most probably a serious medical situation can be associated with your cat’s appetite reduction.

The food refuse behaviour can occur due to many medical reasons such as liver disease, heart disease, kidney disease, dental problems, GI tract inflammation, urinary tract disease, musculoskeletal pain, anxiety and even cancer. However, diagnosis a severe medical issue with our knowledge is somewhat out of range and not recommended.

Other than life-threatening medical case, in here we have separated three common illnesses and their symptoms that cause loss of appetite;

1. Stomach upset (digestive problems)

 Stomach upset can be cause from dozens of issues in cat’s digestive system. When your cat starting to feel something terrible inside his/her stomach, it will start to stop eating properly. With together this symptom, it can show several other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Even though we could not say what is the exact problem for these symptoms without a proper medical analysis, the foreign bodies in any part of the cat’s digestive tract can be the cause of such things.

2. Pain during eating

Sometimes, a cat will refuse to eat because the eating process makes him/her feel pain. Based on the pain amount, they will even stop drinking water and goes to dehydrate.

Pain during eating can happen for many reasons. Spine problems, dental problems, jaw fractures or difficulty in maintaining its posture while eating are some of examples for this situation. Old cats face this kind of problems more often.

3. Dental problems and disease

 Dental problems in cats is another common reason. Studies are reporting that at least 50 to 90% of cats (older than four years) suffers from dental problems. Dental diseases are quite treatable if you can detect in the early stage.

Gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption are the most common dental problems among cats. Depend on the stage of the problem, and your cat can show different symptoms.

What you need to do?

There are numerous health-related reasons for a cat to show unpleasant eating behaviour. Sometimes, we may not be able to find the exact cause for this illness and its okay. That is because we are not veterinarian. However, we should have a fair idea about the symptoms and what to do with them. Right?

So if you think that your cat’s unpleasant behaviour towards food is due to a health problem, our number one advice is to consult with your veterinarian. He will do a thorough examination through your cat’s medical history, behaviour analysis and a physical exam. If things not clear enough, even lab tests will be performed to understand the underline core reason of reduced appetite.

Addressing the dental problem is easy when you have identified it early. Removing plaque and keep teeth clean as much as possible is a good practice. (Read our article of best cat toothpaste to find out some good toothpaste). This article from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, explains above dental diseases in details and possible treatments. However, the best remedy is the opinion of your vet.

Keep in mind that early intervention is essential. Even your cat seems to be okay without eating much, you need to keep your attention sharp. If the medical cause is grave and an expensive one, early detection can give some added advantage to protect your cat’s well-being.

2. Recent vaccination effects

Vaccination is another common reason that cats refuse to eat or drink much. Similar to humans, cats face a different kind of side effects of vaccination. Reduced appetite is known to be one of them and usually it will go away within one or two days.

Although in most cases, the effect of routine vaccination goes away with short period, some cats can still eat very little and will act normally. This is something that you need to consider.

What you need to do?

As we mentioned earlier, this reduced appetite should go away within day or two. If it remains, it can be an indication that your cat is having an adverse reaction to your recent vaccination. At this moment, it is better to consult your veterinarian for medical advice with the cat’s medical history notes.

3. Behaviour or psychological problems

We learned that cats face different kinds of behaviour or psychological problems as humans do.  According to veterinarians, there are trying to stop eating or drinking as a side effect of these problems. At first we thought that psychological issues might be a rare incident. But after we dig deeper through several articles in veterinarian websites and forums, we found that this is familiar.

Hence, we checked what are these psychological issues, and we found that few common triggering points such as change of household, facing disturbance from other cats, owner gone for long trips and changes in cat diet or place. These points can elevate your cats’ depression state or anxiety

What you need to do?

To address above mentioned problems, you can try few simple things like changing your cat diet to a tasty one, use of slightly warm food, use of clean bowl to add food and securing their living space from street cats.

More importantly, give them love and care. Play with them. Even they act as they do not need that, they love it.

Best practices for early prevention or handle such a situation

  • If you are traveling with your cat, remember to bring your usual cat food. Use of new type of cat food at new environment is not recommended. Further, if its possible, use a cat backpack carrier that your cat loves.
  • As a practice, most cat owners keep their cat food in a refrigerator. If you do this too, then do not give cold food to cat. Heat it about to body temperature using a microwave. Adding some warm water to have slightly wet food (how to give wet cat food while you are away from home) is good too.
  • Cats are susceptible to smell of food. When you hide medication inside foods, they will know it. Sometimes, due to that reason they refuse to eat that food brand forever. If you have to give medication regularly, try something like “Pill Pockets” (Buy on Chewy)or raw food that has an overpowering smell (chicken or fish). They will give advantage over typical cat food to hide the medication.
  • Do not get overwhelmed if your cat stops eating. Sometimes they do that. What you need to do is keep in touch with his/her daily patterns. If it is odd, that’s where you need to take action.
  • Cats are usually addicted to their regular life pattern. Any huge different in his environment can cause stress for sensitive cats. But, this does not mean that you cannot try new things in his/her life. Introducing new tasty foods, playgrounds or play toys are welcome to do. Remember to change his daily routine gradually, not at once.
  • If you try everything in your possibilities and still your pet refuses to eat (after a full day), then take your cat to a vet as soon as possible. Do not play the role of veterinarian at yourself or try to save money. You may not need to lose you loving cat at the end.
  • When your cat refuses to eat your common cat diet, then you need to try to give some alternative foods.Hopefully, those alternatives will increase your cat’s appetite.For a start, you can feed half cooked meat, chicken broth mixed canned chickens..etc. However, if you are looking for some commercial products, then these products have good taste and smell specially for improving cat’s appetite.
    • Purina FortiFlora probiotic – This is a really good cat food appetizer and overall nutrition enhancer. You have to use this with your normal cat food.
    • Native Pet Organic Bone Broth – You can mix this powder with water (slightly), then mix into your cat food. If you can use wet cat food with this powder, then it will be great.

What is the best appetite stimulant for cats?

All the methods I have explained in my above sections are really enough for taking care of your cat’s appetite problems.

Anyway, if you are still concern about appetite stimulants, then there are few products which will help to cover your curiosity.

These appetite stimulants are firmly manufactured for cats and dogs. So do fear about the safe.

But, that does not mean that you can use these appetizers regularly. If your cat has a constant reduced appetite, then it could be a hidden health problem.

So you can’t solve that kind of problem with commercial appetite stimulants.

These are the best appetite stimulants for cats

  1. Vetoquinol NutriCa – One of the best appetite stimulants. This product is not only an appetizer but a nutrition enhancer.
    You can use vertoquinol nutrica for all the age types. Old cats, kittens and middle age cats, this one covers all.
  2. Hartz Delectables Lickable Wet Cat Treats Bisque – This is different type of appetizer. Actually, it’s kind of a treat, a gravy treat.
    The tuna and chicken based recipe seems very much attracted toward senior cats.
  3. Lexelium Growth Boosting System – This one is from America. A powder type veterinary approved product.
    You can use this with your common cat food. Lexelium will enhance both body health and appetizer of your kittens, and older cats.

How can I stimulate my cat’s appetite naturally?

To enhance your cat’s appetite naturally, first you need to find the hidden reason for cat not eating behavior.

As I have mentioned in earlier section, once you able to find and address your core problem, it will help to remove stress from your cat.

Then your cat will start to eat as it’s normal days.

You can use DIY appetizers or commercial products one or two times. That’s totally find and it’s not and artificial step.


The article is reviewed by our editorial team based on our editorial policy and approved for the publication. 

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Amelia Kteylor

Amelia Kteylor, DVM, attended the University of Georgia. She is a cat expert with 20 years of experiences in field. She has a passion as a writer and editor for pet publishing industry too. Amelia contributes to numerous pet magazines in the areas of pet health and groom. Further, she volunteered in cat rescue centers in her leisure time.

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