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Cat Won't Eat Or Drink - Should You Be Worried?

It can be frustrating and scary when your cat won't eat or drink. You'll need to investigate to determine how serious the problem really is.

A cat that won't eat could either be just fussy or have a serious underlying health problem.

Likewise a cat that won't drink could be getting his/her water from another source or it could also be caused by an underlying health problem. How can you tell the difference?

Cats are Picky Eaters

First of all, many cats are picky eaters. If you switch them to a different brand or type of food all of a sudden, they may protest and not eat at all until you give them their preferred food.

It's always best to gradually change their food over time, when you want to make a change.


Environment is also a factor in their eating habits. If you feed them in a high-traffic area or change where you feed them, they may refuse to eat until you change the situation.

If you've remedied any situation that may be interfering with their eating habits and nothing seems to work, then you need to take them to the veterinarian.

They may have some health issues that need to be taken care of such as a broken tooth, mouth sores, or any number of serious internal problems.

Is Your Cat Dehydrated?

If you notice that there never seems to be enough water missing from your cat's water bowl, then you can do a simple test to see if they're dehydrated.

Pinch about 1" of their skin and fur between your fingers and then let it go. If it immediately snaps back into place, then your cat is not dehydrated. If the skin stays raised for more than a couple of seconds, then they may be dehydrated and it's time to take action.

If your cat doesn't seem to be dehydrated, he or she may be getting their water from some other source that you're not aware of.

They may be drinking water out of the toilet or if you have an outside cat, they may get all of their water from any number of water sources - puddles, streams, flowerpots, etc.

If you're sure that your cat isn't getting water from any other source, then they might not like their water bowl or the taste of the water you give them.

Get them another water bowl and/or give them dechlorinated, spring or distilled water. And cats that eat moist food get a good bit of water from their food.

If your cat seems to be dehydrated, then you should take him or her to the veterinarian. There may be a serious health issue. And no animal can survive long without liquids.

Be Observant

Always observe your cat closely and be aware of what's going on in their life. When your cat won't eat or drink and exhibits behavior that's out of the ordinary - mood changes, less energy than normal, hissing at you, losing or gaining weight - then it's time to take him or her to the veterinarian. It's always better to err on the side of caution.