Published on April 5th, 2017 | by Debbie Martin0
Cats and loss of appetite – What causes cat anorexia?
Anorexia, put simply, is a chronic loss of appetite. In humans, it’s a potentially serious condition; the same is true of cat anorexia. But cats don’t have to worry about the size of models in fashion magazines – so why do they develop the condition?
The anorexia we refer to in humans is actually a specific variety of the condition, known as anorexia nervosa and is a behavioural condition. Anorexia as a medical condition is something entirely different; it is extremely dangerous if not promptly treated. If your cat has shown any signs of anorexia – acute and dramatic weight loss, for example, then it is imperative that you take it to the vet at the earliest possible opportunity.
What causes anorexia?
There are a number of factors which contribute to a cat developing anorexia. The most common are those caused by another disease developing. Flu, for example, can make a cat become less hungry, while some conditions affecting the excretory system can cause them to stop eating altogether.
Behavioural problems, such as stress, can also play a role in the development of the condition. If your household has recently gone through a difficult period, such as a move or the introduction of a baby – or another cat – then it may be the case that the cat simply needs time to adjust. The condition can also be brought about by factors such as old age.
If a cat has a problem with its teeth, or with its throat, then it stands a strong chance of experiencing a loss of appetite. An obstruction, such as a tumour, would have a similar effect. Injuries can also play a role in this, too. If your cat has been injured to an extent that it experiences pain whenever it attempts to eat, then it will be discouraged from doing so.
If you believe that you have established the cause of your cat’s lack of appetite, it is important that you take it to a vet to confirm this. Anorexia is a potentially serious condition and can cause knock-on effects with a cat’s liver and other organs. Don’t take any chances!
How can I be sure that my cat has anorexia?
If you suspect that you cat has anorexia, then again you should take them to the vet. The vet will perform a physical examination and ask you questions about the cat’s recent behaviour, including their eating habits. They will almost certainly ask whether the cat has been vomiting. They may then run blood tests, x rays and urine tests in order to rule of a disease as a possible causeand then act accordingly.
In determining the exact cause of a loss of appetite, it is important to establish whether or not the cat is hungry. If the cat shows no interest in food at all, then it may be that there is a deeper problem. If the cat, on the other hand, attempts to eat before stopping and stepping back – perhaps because of physical pain, then this would indicate a problem with the actual act of eating.
What should I do if my cat won’t eat?
Your vet will be able to offer detailed advice on possible courses of action – though what this action will consist of will depend hugely on the causes of the disease. In some instances – such as those where the cat has developed a dental problem preventing it from eating – will require surgery under a general anaesthetic. Other causes require treatments with drugs.
Whatever the cause, it is important in most instances that the cat is encouraged to eat. This is often more difficult than it sounds. There are, however, a few ways in which food can be made more appealing to cats. You might consider heating any food up first, or trying a different brand of cat food.
You can also encourage appetite through smell – a cat will be far more inclined to eat food that smells strong, such as tuna and sardines. For similar reasons, you should periodically inspect your cat’s nose in order to ensure that it is clean – a blocked nose will be unable to smell anything!
Anorexia is potentially a very serious condition. The health of an anorexic cat can deteriorate very suddenly and it is imperative that action is taken swiftly in that event. You should therefore keep your vet appraised of your cat’s progress – or lack thereof. Should your cat’s behaviour persist after a few days, they should be returned to the vet and other options should be explored.