The only reason why your perfectly healthy cat isn’t eating

I can only think of one reason why a perfectly healthy and fit cat, well looked after, is not eating the food that you put down for him or her. And I guess by now you’ve figured out the reason: they are consistently going around to your neighbour and eating all the food that they need. So, they are eating but not the food you give them. There is an interesting little story which illustrates this on social media at the moment. The owner of the cat that you see in the photograph said that he didn’t eat for three days. He took him to the vet where they did an ultrasound (that’s why the belly is shaved) “only to find a belly full of the neighbour’s cat’s food”.

This cat is perfectly healthy but he was 'not eating' because he was continually visiting his neighbour to eat everything he needed
This cat is perfectly healthy but he was ‘not eating’ because he was continually visiting his neighbour to eat everything he needed. Image: Mysticstorms on Reddit.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

It’s a bit of a shame because he had to be hauled off to a veterinarian and have his belly fur shaved off. Perhaps he was tranquilized. The whole experience must’ve been a bit traumatic for cat and caregiver.

The cat was probably muttering under his breath, “What the hell is going on?”

The next question has got to be this one: why was this attractive looking ginger tabby-and-white male cat going next door for all his feeding requirements? And once again there can be only one reason: the food next door is better than the food in the home where he lives.

And so, the solution for this cat caregiver is to put down some great food for his cat to try and wean him off the habit of going next door.

This kind of feline behaviour can cause upset between neighbours. This is because this caregiver might complain to his neighbour that they are feeding their cat and they shouldn’t do it. They might blame their neighbour for acting irresponsibly. They might even blame them for trying to steal their cat. It might even be true by the way!

But then again, the neighbour might respond by saying that this cat owner should keep their cat indoors or do more to stop them coming into their home. In the meantime, the cat has no notion of “cat ownership” and does not feel owned. He has a home range territory which encompasses both his home and the homes of neighbours including their backyards and therefore is behaving entirely normally and sees nothing wrong. He is simply scavenging food where it is obtainable.

The idea of scavenging for cats is not wholly natural. The ancestor to the domestic cat doesn’t really scavenge. They attack and kill prey and eat it fresh. But the domestic cat’s life is very different; it’s artificial and they’ve learned to accept food in a bowl which is a form of scavenging.

So, the first thing you do if your cat has stopped eating and looks and behaves healthy in every respect and shows no signs of having any illness is to check whether he’s eating next door before you haul him off to the veterinarian to waste your money and time and put your cat through a minor traumatic event.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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