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What You Need To Do If Your Cat Not Eating Much But Acting Normal
  • Food

When a cat starts not eating much but to act normal, it signals that some odd thing going on your cat’s lifestyle. The sudden loss of appetite can cause from severe medical issue to emotional breakdown. Either way, early detection is needed. In this post, we have summarised most common three causes and what to do with them. Further, we have explained the best practices that will help you to prevent or handle any unnecessary health problems.

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.

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 two common illnesses and their symptoms that cause loss of appetite;

cat not eating much but acting normal

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.

 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.

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.

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 wellbeing.

2. Recent vaccination effects

cat not eating much but acting normal

Vaccination is another common reason that cats refuse to eat or drink much. Similar to humans, cats also 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

cat not eating much but acting normal

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 travelling 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 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” 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.

Some extra information from Youtube channel “Cat Lady Fitness

Final Thought

If he/she acts differently rather than the usual way, give your careful attention to your pet. If the behaviour change is more than one day with food rejection, then take your cat to see a vet. The doctor will guide you with the recovery process. The most important thing is early detection. It can help you to save your cat’s life from even severe medical condition.


Dinu Sri Madusanka

Hi, I'm a researcher who is currently pursuing a PhD degree in Nanotechnology. In my free time, I gives my contribution to Walk with Cat by writing, reviewing and analyzing information.