My Cat Won’t Eat! What Should I Do?

If you’ve had to switch your cat’s food at any point, whether she’s sick, elderly, or just a fussy eater, you know how much pets hate change.

Helping your cat transition from one diet to another can be a major challenge. She might act out or simply refuse to eat. Since a healthy diet is an essential part of good pet care, here are a few tips and tricks to encourage your little furry friend to eat.

  1. Start slow
    Unless the vet at the animal hospital or clinic tells you otherwise, any change to your cat’s diet should be gradual, progressing over a period of at least seven days. There is actually a scientific reason why your cat shouldn’t go cold turkey on her old diet. Her body contains enzymes and bacteria that have adapted in order to digest the old food. If she is not used to a certain kind of food, consuming that food alone can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  2. Heat it up
    Instinctively, cats like to eat things that are “freshly killed” and warm. Sometimes they will refuse to eat a new food unless it is at body temperature. Try microwaving your cat’s food until it is just slightly warm.
  3. Try biscuits
    If you are switching your cat’s diet from dry to wet food because of a health issue, she may not be too fond of the mush you’re setting in front of her. Most cats love dry biscuits, so try mixing your cat’s biscuits in with just a little bit of wet food to start out. As mentioned above, you will want to introduce the new diet gradually, so adjust the biscuit-to-wet food ratio over time. You can also try moistening the biscuits with warm water and letting them soften so that your cat can get used to the texture before adding the wet food.

In the U.S., 38,900,000 households have at least one cat. If none of these tricks work, ask a fellow cat-owner for their advice. Chances are you have a few of them right in your own neighborhood.

If the hunger strike persists, you must take your cat to the emergency vet immediately. Her refusal to eat may be a symptom of something more serious.

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