Why is my cat not eating?

ginger cat being hugged
Written by: Sam Webster (BVetMed MRCVS) Head Vet at Joii

Any appetite changes in our pets can be concerning– a lot of the time it can be nothing to worry about too much, but it can be a sign of an issue that needs treating. Loss of appetite in cats is definitely not something that should be ignored as it can impact their health very quickly.

We’ve put together some information on what to do if you notice your cat isn’t eating, what could be causing it and when you should take action.



Why is my cat not eating but drinking water?


If your cat is refusing to eat solid food but is still drinking plenty of water – or even more water than usual – it could indicate an underlying problem. The most common causes of increased thirst and drinking, coupled with loss of appetite can include:

  • Kidney problems
  • Liver disease
  • Intestinal problems
  • Pancreatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Urinary tract disease
  • Making up for lost water through vomiting or diarrhoea


If you are concerned about the amount of water that your cat is drinking, it is best to get them checked at the vets immediately to rule out any underlying conditions.



My cat is not eating but throwing up bile: what do I do?


When cats start to throw up yellow bile after not eating for a while, it’s usually due to the stomach being empty. If your cat is vomiting bile you should see you vet immediately to prevent them from becoming dehydrated.



My cat is lethargic and not eating?


Lethargy, meaning general tiredness, can be caused by many different conditions ranging from a simple cat bite abscess to more serious problems such as kidney disease, diabetes or poisoning. However, if your cat has been lethargic for more than 24 hours and is not eating, you should book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.



When should I worry if my cat stops eating?


If your cat is refusing to eat and has not eaten in 24 hours, and showing any other alarming symptoms such as vomiting, coughing, difficulty breathing, problems urinating or changes to their drinking habits, it is important that you take them to the vets as soon as possible. Cats can develop a very serious condition called fatty liver when they do not eat, so it is important to act quickly and find out what is wrong.


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