Loss of Appetite in Cats

Anorexia in Cats

Anorexia, as a behavioral condition that applies to humans, has been in the news so much that most of us are familiar with it on some level. The behavioral condition is referred to as anorexia nervosa, but anorexia as a medical condition is a very serious indicator of an underlying condition that needs prompt treatment. A cat will be diagnosed with anorexia when it is consistently refusing to eat and its food intake has decreased so much that drastic weight loss has occurred. If your cat is showing symptoms of medical anorexia you will need to consult your veterinarian immediately so that the cause can be identified before damage to the internal organs makes treatment impossible.


  • Inability to eat
  • Fever
  • Pallor
  • Jaundice
  • Pain
  • Changes in organ size
  • Changes in the eyes
  • Distention of the abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart and lung sounds are diminished
  • Sudden weight loss


There are many potential causes which can be attributed to a cat not eating. For example, most diseases, including infectious, autoimmune, respiratory, gastrointestinal, bone, endocrine and neurological diseases, will cause an animal to avoid eating. Pain and internal obstructions, amongst other factors, can cause the affected cat to lose its appetite entirely. Anorexia can also be due to a psychological problem, such as overwhelming stress, major changes in routine, and environmental or dietary changes. Other causes include:

  • Aging
  • Cardiac failure
  • Toxicities and drugs
  • Tumor (mass of growth)


You will need to provide a thorough medical history for your cat, including any changes in diet, environment, or routine. It will help if you have observed your cat’s eating habits and have identified any problems it may be having with picking up, chewing or swallowing its food. Your veterinarian will conduct various tests, some of which may include:

  • Ophthalmic, dental, nasal, facial and neck examinations
  • Heart-worm exam
  • Retrovirus exam
  • Blood analysis
  • Urinalysis
  • X-rays of the abdomen and chest
  • Endoscopy and tissue and cell samples


The digestive tract containing the stomach and intestine

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