When trying to switch your cats to a better food, we often hear “they’ll eat when their hungry”. This tactic may work with dogs, but cats are completely different mammals and risk something called hepatic lipidosis if they go too long without food.
Hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease, is unfortunately a common liver disease in cats that “begins when the cat stops eating from a loss of appetite, forcing the liver to convert body fat into usable energy.” This disease can be fatal if left untreated, so paying attention to your cats eating habits is important. One day of refusing food should trigger your response, but if your kitty doesn’t eat for 48 hours it can start to get dangerous.
There are many reasons cats will suddenly stop eating. Some of these reasons include:
- Illness. Just like humans, when a cat doesn’t feel well they will often refuse food.
- Scent. If your kitty cannot smell their food (often a result of a respiratory infection) they won’t be enticed to eat.
- Food. Cats can be finicky and will sometimes literally starve themselves if you don’t offer them options for food.
- Stress. Due to their instinctive nature, cats that are under stress may stop eating, as mealtime is a vulnerable time for them.
Cats that are overweight are more prone to hepatic lipidosis if they stop eating, but all cats are susceptible to this after a certain period of anorexia. If your cat suddenly stops eating, some steps you’ll want to take to insure their survival are:
- Call a veterinarian immediately and make an appointment. A medical professional will be able to diagnose your kitty if there’s an illness and treat it appropriately. If it is not illness related, they will be able to insert a feeding tube or offer insight on increasing appetite.
- Start syringe feeding your cat until you can get to the vet. We’ve done this with our cat using meat based baby food or canned food while waiting for the vet appointment. Get an oral syringe at the pharmacy and feed your kitty in small amounts down the side of his/her mouth several times per day.
Paying attention to your cats eating habits can be life saving for them, so be sure to feed your cat on a routine basis so that you can keep them happy and healthy!