My cat is very old and terminally ill with a number of illnesses including renal failure and heart problems. She has eaten quite well until recently. Now, she is not eating well and has lost a lot of weight. These are bad signs in an old cat.
Cats of any age can stop eating. Not eating is caused by a loss of appetite usually. My immediate thought is whether losing appetite is a sign of discomfort or pain. I think it must be. Or at least it is a sign of feeling unwell which is the same as discomfort. When I say losing appetite I mean that you have tried a wide range of foods including favorites and all have been turned down. And this causes weight loss.
I thought it would useful to look up all the reasons for a cat not eating in the best book on cat health (Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook – ISBN 978-0-470-09530-0).
Here they are:
– in older cats, cancer causes a drop in appetite and weight loss. Kidney disease and failure with anemia is another cause.
– gastrointestinal parasites. This means: roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms.
– toxoplasmosis – feline intestinal toxoplasmosis to give the full title.
– bubonic plague (a horrible disease caused by a bacteria called Yersinia pestis.
– upper respiratory infection – the other symptoms will be apparent.
– feline panleukemia – AKA feline distemper or panleuk.
– feline infectious peritonitis – AKA FIP – a common disease caused by a virus in the coronavirus group.
– feline leukemia virus disease complex – FeLV, a well known disease.
– FIV – cat version of human Aids.
– histoplasmosis – caused by a fungus. Occurs in cats in central USA near Great Lakes, Appalachian Mountains, Texas and the valleys of Mississippi, Ohio, & St. Lawrence Rivers.
– cat scratch disease. This affects us as well sometimes. Less than 5% of infected cats develop signs.
– immune related skin problems.
– nasal obstruction for whatever reason as a cat’s sense of smell is important to appetite. A Nasal discharge is the classic reason due to virus and/or bacterial infection. Another is sinusitis.
– mouth disease – i.e. periodontal disease (gum disease).
– sore throat.
– liver disease.
– advanced diabetes.
– hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).
– dilated cardiomyopathy.
– feline anemia.
– heartworm disease.
– low blood potassium – feline hypokalemic polymyopathy.
– kidney failure causing uremia (urea in blood).
– obstruction of the urethra due to FLUTD (feline urinary tract disease).
– infection of the uterus – pyometra (abscess of the uterus).
– administering NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
That is the complete list. It is a long list. A loss of appetite is a sign of illness but you won’t know which illness unless it is obvious and until you have seen a good veterinarian.
You can look up almost all of these illnesses by using the search box at the top of the page.
I don’t consider fussy eating habits as loss of appetite. Cats will eat when hungry.
Have you had occasions when your cat has stopped eating? If so please tell us what caused it and how the problem was overcome. Thank you.