How to Get an Anxious Cat to Eat

Most cats love to eat. Along with sleeping, playing, and running around, eating is probably one of your cat’s favorite activities.

Eating is also a basic element of survival, without which your cat’s health could deteriorate rapidly. This is why it can be very alarming for you to wake up one day and discover that your cat won’t eat.

cat not eating

Cats may suffer from a lack of appetite for a number of reasons, including congestive heart failure, gastrointestinal issues, dental diseases, stress or anxiety.


My Cat Is Not Eating: Why & What to Do

sad cat

If you’ve noticed your cat’s behavior has changed suddenly, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Your vet can rule out any underlying medical issues causing your cat’s loss of appetite. He or she can also determine if your cat has anxiety and make recommendations to help lower its anxiety level.

Whether your cat is sick, stressed, or anxious, remember that a prolonged refusal of food can have devastating consequences to you cat’s health.


Feeding an Anxious Cat

anxious cat feeding

Cats are usually very emotional pets, and major changes in their home environment can throw them off their routine and cause stress and anxiety. Moving to a new home, adding a new family member or adopting a new pet can have a significant impact on your cat’s behavior.

Although these changes may seem insignificant, they can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for your cat, which can result in your cat refusing to eat.

If you’ve gone to a very stressful period in your life, you know that stress and anxiety can make just about anyone lose their appetite.

Here are some things you can try at home to encourage your anxious cat to eat:


Play More With Your Cat

cat play

Cat play plays an important role in keeping your cat happy and healthy – not only physically but mentally too.

Playtime is not just about fun and exercise. Playtime releases good brain chemicals and helps your cat form positive associations with its environment and people around.

Physical activities such as “chase the mouse” or “follow the feather” can work as great anxiety reducers for your cat.


Try Different Food

food for cats

Cats can be surprisingly picky about their diet. Even if your cat was eating one type of food just fine for weeks or months, it’s possible it might suddenly stop eating it.

Providing your cat with a diet that is not properly balanced may lead to anxiety and stress.

Try feeding your cat with something new that it will find irresistible. Liver and tuna, for example, may help you coax your cat into taking some bites.

However, you need to be careful with this type of food because large quantities of it can be harmful to your cat.

You can also try buying canned food in different flavors. Just place some canned food in a small bowl and warm it slightly. To make it even more irresistible for your cat, try adding some fish oil, tuna juice, or cooked egg.

Your cat might find these changes refreshing and it might start eating again.


Try Hand Feeding

hand feeding cat

Have you ever tried to hand feed your cat? If other options fail, hand feeding can be helpful. Hand feeding is a truly cute and precious moment that you can share with your cat.

Simply put a little bit of your cat’s favorite food on your fingers and then gently place the food on your cat’s gums. Make sure you don’t force-feed your cat because it can be stressful for the cat and potentially dangerous for you.


Create a Safe Zone for Your Cat

Cute kitten on bed

Cats want to feel safe and comfortable where they eat.

Your cat may have been scared or turned off where its last feeding location was, and now it doesn’t feel comfortable eating in that location.

You may need to try several spots before finding the one where your cat will feel comfortable and want to eat. Select a place in your home that is quiet and calm. This could be an unused bedroom,  a living room, or maybe a quiet laundry room.


Try Different Types of Bowls

cat bowls

As already mentioned, cats can be very sensitive when it comes to flavor as well as smell. Your cat may avoid eating based on the type, shape or size of its food bowl.

Certain plastic or metal bowls might be adding flavors to the food that turn off your cat’s appetite.

Try using different types of bowls to encourage your cat to start eating more easily.


Conclusion

cute cats

Some cat owners believe that once their cat gets really hungry, it will start eating on its own. However, this is not always the case.

Unlike dogs, which can go without food for some time without major consequences, cats can develop serious health problems such as hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver which can be fatal. This problem can develop if your cat doesn’t eat even for a relatively short time – two to three days.

If you’ve just noticed your cat is not eating, try some of the tips we mentioned above. However, if everything fails and your cat is still refusing to eat, take it to the vet as soon as possible.

If you have a story to share about your cat refusing to eat, or you would like to share your tips for getting an anxious cat to eat, please feel free to comment below!

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