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The Cat Stopped Eating Dry Food: Why Not Eating, What To Do, How To Train And Transfer To Another, Veterinarian Advice
The Cat Stopped Eating Dry Food: Why Not Eating, What To Do, How To Train And Transfer To Another, Veterinarian Advice

Video: The Cat Stopped Eating Dry Food: Why Not Eating, What To Do, How To Train And Transfer To Another, Veterinarian Advice

Video: How To Get a Cat to Eat : 13 Steps to GUARANTEED Success! - Cat Health Vet Advice 2022, December

The cat refuses dry food

The cat does not eat dry food
The cat does not eat dry food

Avoiding dry food is a common phenomenon and rightly worries pet owners. In some cases, temporary problems with appetite do not threaten health, but if you have uncharacteristic symptoms or chronic diseases, you need to pay attention to the pet's condition. Short-term fasting is not dangerous in itself, but the causes that caused it can sometimes be fatal.


  • 1 Reasons why a cat may refuse dry food

    • 1.1 Diseases
    • 1.2 Lack of experience
    • 1.3 Spoiled feed
    • 1.4 Finicky
    • 1.5 Getting used to flavor enhancers
    • 1.6 Stress
    • 1.7 Sexual hunt
    • 1.8 Fasting day
    • 1.9 Violation of diet
  • 2 Training a kitten or adult cat to dry food
  • 3 Transfer to another dry food
  • 4 What to do if a cat refuses dry food
  • 5 When you need to urgently contact your veterinarian
  • 6 Advice from veterinarians

Reasons why a cat may refuse dry food

There are many reasons that can cause a cat to give up pelleted food. Some of them are associated with natural physiological factors, others do not fit into the norm and can threaten the cat's life.


Many diseases can provoke the rejection of dry food. The owner needs to pay attention to the general condition and behavior of the animal. If the cat is interested in food, sniffs at it and tries to eat, but at the last moment turns away or spits out the pellets, this may indicate damage to the gastrointestinal tract or the presence of a foreign body or neoplasm in it.

Demodectic mange in a cat
Demodectic mange in a cat

For dermatological conditions affecting the area around the mouth, the cat retains appetite, but cannot eat due to pain

Pathology can cover not only the intestines or the mucous membranes of the esophagus and stomach, but also the oral cavity. Often, animals refuse dry food for toothache. At first, this is uncomfortable, but the cat continues to eat. Later, with increased pain, a kind of reflex arises, and the pet turns away from food. Interest in wet food and natural foods can be maintained: softened food causes less discomfort. With dental diseases, your pet can chew on hard objects to get rid of the source of pain on its own. Most often, trauma or signs of pathology can be detected by visual examination, but in some cases, an x-ray is required.

Tartar in a cat
Tartar in a cat

Tartar can lead to loss of canine teeth, so it is recommended that you brush regularly with a special brush.

Neoplasms in the oral cavity can deliver no less discomfort. In the process of eating, they can be injured by teeth or hard granules. In some cases, this can cause bleeding. Most often, tumors can be detected on their own. They can be soft, hard, movable, fixed, white, black, etc.

Tumor in a cat
Tumor in a cat

Depending on the localization of the neoplasm, the animal may experience increased salivation and difficulty swallowing

With diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system, the cat may refuse dry food and other food while maintaining appetite due to limited mobility and pain. In such cases, the animal experiences severe discomfort, meows, limps, drags its paws or cannot get up at all, empties under itself, etc. The condition is one of the most dangerous, therefore it is important to carefully deliver the cat to the veterinarian without causing additional pain.

In some cases, the animal completely refuses dry food. It has no interest in him and other foods. The pet is starving, but at the sight of food it immediately turns away or leaves. This symptom can accompany the following diseases and conditions:

  1. Intoxication. Poisoning is accompanied by palpitations, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, fever, etc. In severe cases, there is a loss of orientation in space. In a critical condition, the cat ceases to react to what is happening, the body temperature decreases. Failure of internal organs is possible. With mild intoxication after the removal of the poisoning, the condition is normalized without additional intervention. If the cat is severely unwell, it is fed through a tube and given intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.
  2. Lipidosis. The disease is characterized by excessive accumulation of fat in the liver. The animal may eat poorly or completely refuse food for a long period of time (2-4 weeks or more). The cat quickly loses weight, the ribs, brisket and hips become visible. The animal is worried about digestive disorders and jaundice. With lipidosis, appetite must be corrected within the framework of general therapy, since often irreversible processes begin to occur in the body.
  3. Internal trauma. The main signs of malaise are latent bleeding, swelling, and severe pain. If the cat's gastrointestinal tract is damaged, blood may be found in the stool. In the absence of severe depletion, the animal's condition normalizes on its own after treatment.

    Blood in urine in cats
    Blood in urine in cats

    If the tissues of the urinary system have been injured, blood impurities or whole clots will be present in the urine; indirectly, the color allows you to determine the localization of damage

  4. Infections. The reason for refusal to dry food can be both gastrointestinal lesions and, for example, cystitis. In this case, poor appetite is associated with the intoxication of the body with bacteria and their decay products. The animal must be treated without fail, even if the symptoms have subsided or disappeared without therapy. An improvement in the condition may indicate the transition of the disease to a chronic form.
  5. Pathology of the gastrointestinal tract. The pet does not eat well or refuses dry food due to inflammation and pain in the abdomen, as well as nausea. If the animal eats both pellets and natural products, it can opt for the latter. Foods with a high fluid content are less painful due to their delicate texture.

    Cat licks nose
    Cat licks nose

    When nausea, the cat begins to lick its nose often

  6. Disorders of the central nervous system and brain. Most often, this is observed with injuries. Appetite problems are associated with impaired transmission and recognition of nerve signals. As a result, the cat does not feel hungry while the body needs energy and nutrients. Treatment is mandatory, if necessary, the pet is fed through a tube.
  7. Helminthiasis. Infection with worms can occur through eating raw meat, contact with other animals, or accidentally ingesting parasite larvae with insects, soil or water. With mild helminthiasis, weight loss, deterioration in general health and mucus and blood in the feces are observed. In natural secretions and vomiting, larvae or whole worms can be found. In severe cases, the worms cause intestinal obstruction. After taking anthelmintics twice, the symptoms disappear, only animals in critical condition need additional correction.
  8. Inflammatory processes that accompany acute and chronic diseases. Decreased appetite can appear with any pathology due to the active work of the immune system. Most of the energy is spent by the body to eliminate inflammation, so the pet feels weak and loses its appetite.
  9. Intestinal obstruction. Refusal of dry food is associated with a blockage of the gastrointestinal tract and the inability to normal movement of food and feces. In such cases, the cat is in pain. With partial obstruction, the animal is disturbed by bloating and diarrhea, with complete obstruction, constipation. Nausea appears. In the absence of help, the pet may die. After normalization of the condition, the cat gradually returns to its normal diet.

Partial dry food withdrawal and selectivity can be caused by impaired vision or smell. In this case, this is due to the unattractiveness of the food. Cats are guided by sight and smell, therefore, losing their senses, they may suffer from poor appetite. If the situation does not improve after the normalization of the pet's condition and the course of therapy, the owners are advised to use additional tricks to increase the attractiveness of the feed.

One day my cat began to refuse dry food. At first, I did not suspect anything, because approximately every 2 months she arranges for herself several fasting days: she eats less or is completely starving. When problems with appetite began to become permanent, I became wary and decided to examine the cat: I carefully felt its stomach, looked into its ears and eyes, and checked the skin. The reason became clear when it came to the mouth. There were tartars on the chewing canines, the gums around were reddened, one of the teeth was loose. When I began to analyze, I remembered that lately the cat has often been naughty: she chewed on wires, headphones and even ruined several pairs of shoes, which was unusual for her. After removal of the problematic canine, ultrasonic cleaning and treatment with dental gels, appetite gradually returned to normal.

Lack of experience

It is normal to refuse food when the cat has not tasted pellets before. The animal understands that it is edible, but the unusual smell and consistency repel it. The cat will not die of hunger and sooner or later will eat dry food, but a gradual transfer is preferable. Otherwise, due to a sharp change in the menu, the animal may suffer from digestive disorders, exacerbation of chronic pathologies and the development of new diseases.

Spoiled feed

Dry food conditionally remains fit for consumption for 2-3 years, however, after opening the package, the shelf life is greatly reduced. This is because the granules contain oils. Under the influence of air, they rapidly oxidize and turn rancid. Depending on the storage method, the feed deteriorates after 3–8 weeks. Once rancid, it should not be given to cats as this can cause poisoning.

Dry food by weight
Dry food by weight

It is strongly recommended to refuse to buy feed by weight, especially when it comes to the super-premium class or higher: it is not known how long ago the packaging was opened

When I got a second cat, the consumption of dry food increased. I decided to save money: buy large packages. This made it possible to reduce the cost of 1 kg of feed by an average of 20%. However, in a month the cats did not have time to eat all the contents. About a third of the volume remained in the sack when they both refused feed. At first I thought that they simply did not want to eat, but after a day it became obvious that something was wrong. When I gave the cats wet food, they eagerly ate it, as well as pellets from other packaging. I had to get rid of the spoiled food. Now I buy small packages and make sure they have a zip fastener. It partially prevents contact with air, therefore does not allow the feed to deteriorate prematurely.


Cats are somewhat reminiscent of children: if they understand that they can get something tasty, they will strive to achieve this by all methods. Whims are also on the list. If a cat once refused dry food, and the owner began to offer her delicacies or spoon-fed, she will remember this. In the future, the pet will copy the previous behavior in order to get attention and extra treats.

Food "off the table"
Food "off the table"

Feeding "from the table" is fraught with begging and even theft

In their whims, animals can be very stubborn. Once upon a time one of my cats was sick. To get her at least something to eat, I gave her her favorite wet food and dried chicken fillets. The cat recovered, but a month later went on a "hunger strike". I got scared that she might start losing weight, started giving her treats again and took her to the vet. The specialist said that everything is in order with the animal, and advised to ignore the finickyness, just leave the food freely available. For about 2 days the cat was stubborn. I felt sorry for her, I always wanted to feed her, but I obeyed the vet. After that, the cat began to eat the pellets with the same appetite.

Addiction to flavor enhancers

Getting used to flavor enhancers can be a problem when switching from one feed to another. This is most often encountered by those owners whose cats previously ate economy class food.

Dry food Whiskas
Dry food Whiskas

Economy-class food for cats can be compared to fast food for humans: there is little useful in them, but after such a diet, the animal is difficult to transfer to a healthy diet

The animals completely ignore the bowl of new food until the hunger becomes unbearable. The owner's behavior should be the same as in the previous case: it is recommended not to pay attention to fastidiousness and to watch in order not to miss uncharacteristic symptoms that may indicate illness. It is advisable to gradually transfer the pet from one feed to another.


Cats, like humans, can have appetite problems when they are mildly sick, in a bad mood, or when stressed. Since animals are conservative, even minor events for us can cause behavioral disorder. For example, the appearance of a child or a new pet from neighbors, the move of some family members or the rearrangement of furniture.

Play complex for cats
Play complex for cats

On the upper floors of the playing complex, the cat will feel as comfortable as possible, because from there she can observe what is happening from a height

To normalize the condition, it is recommended to allocate the cat its own territory, in which no one will disturb it. This will protect your pet from unwanted attention and help improve sleep. This is especially important if the family has small children, dogs, or other cats. It is advisable to purchase a play complex or a house. It is more aesthetically pleasing, although even a cardboard box is a shelter for cats. It is recommended to train restless animals from childhood to cage to protect them from accidents. While the owner is not at home, the cat can gnaw through the wires or fall out of the window. The cage prevents this and serves as a kind of private room for the pet.

The cat does not sleep
The cat does not sleep

Under stress, animals have problems with sleep: it becomes superficial, so the pet does not rest well, which further exacerbates the situation

To combat stress, it is recommended to pay more attention to the cat, talk to her, play and pet more often. This will allow the pet to feel like a part of the family and strengthen its position in the "pack". These measures cannot be ignored if stress is associated with the appearance of a new animal. Otherwise, pets will begin to sort things out with each other and become aggressive.

Malaise and poor appetite can be associated with other stressors. For example, fever, pregnancy, or recent vaccinations. In such cases, it is necessary to alleviate the condition of the pet with the help of appropriate measures: equip a cool shelter, prepare a nest for childbirth, provide comfort, etc. Gradually, the appetite is normalized.

Sexual hunting

Heat and heat are other factors that can cause poor appetite without an immediate threat to health. Cats are designed in such a way that natural instincts force them to reproduce, rather than feelings more characteristic of humans.

Cat in a blanket after sterilization
Cat in a blanket after sterilization

Removing the genitals is not a cruel measure, but an operation that helps a cat avoid discomfort during estrus, deterioration in health during childbirth and feeding kittens and diseases due to fluctuations in hormonal levels and infection

When pets are in heat, they experience physical discomfort, which can be compared to the pain of cystitis. Only sexual intercourse allows it to be weakened, so the animals completely concentrate on hunting. The rest of the instincts weaken until the discomfort is completely eliminated and estrus ends.

Fasting day

To improve digestion, some cats independently arrange fasting days for themselves every few months. Most often this happens after eating fatty foods the day before. During fasting days, the pet refuses food partially or completely. Fasting normally lasts up to 2 days. During this time, it is important to provide your pet with access to clean water.

Violation of the diet

The reason for refusing dry food may be the lack of a stable daily schedule. This can include both spontaneous feeding and feeding with food from the table. In the latter case, the cat may become fastidious. Unscheduled meals are fraught with lack of hunger by the time of the main feeding. If you refuse to eat and there are no other symptoms, you should analyze the situation. Perhaps a family member is feeding the cat from the table?

It's important for cats to live on a schedule. With a spontaneous daily regimen, they may not have time to get hungry by the time they eat. A stable schedule keeps the animal's appetite normal. His internal organs adapt and begin to secrete digestive fluids at exactly the same time, which contributes to the appearance of hunger at the right time.

Dry food training for a kitten or adult cat

In the case of kittens, the process is usually easier, because in childhood, animals are more prone to quick adaptation. Adult cats are less willing to switch to dry food, but in the absence of contraindications and health problems, it is enough to show persistence.

Kittens are allowed to feed dry food from 3 weeks, but it is advisable to start training from 4-6 weeks. This allows the gastrointestinal tract to completely take shape and prevents diarrhea and dehydration from occurring. Training begins with 1–2 pellets. Dry food must be soaked before offering it to the kitten. The same is recommended in the case of adult cats: due to the increased level of humidity, the consistency will be more familiar to the animal.

Whiskas dry food for kittens
Whiskas dry food for kittens

When choosing food for a kitten, you need to pay attention to the manufacturer's recommendations: depending on the composition, he may recommend starting to give the product from 3, 4 or 8 weeks

The proportion of dry food and the amount of added water are gradually reduced. By the time the teeth change, the kitten is transferred to granules in their original form. The menu at this time includes wet and dry food of the same brand, or only the latter. The norm is calculated according to tables and individual characteristics, based on the physique.

For older cats, treats can be used. For example, the Mnyams company produces spices. On sale you can find special sauces and gravies, dried pieces of meat, etc. It is allowed to mix slightly soaked granules into regular food so that the pet gets used to the taste. Treats are given exclusively in dehydrated form. This helps to reinforce positive associations. The dosage of treats should not exceed the recommended dosage.

Trixie fillet pieces
Trixie fillet pieces

Dried fillet pieces are an excellent choice when converting to dry food: they are a cross between meat in its natural form and dehydrated granules

In some cases, you have to select an individual approach. For example, start by grinding the granules and mixing the powder into regular food. For fastidious pets, wet food can become an intermediate link in the transition. It is advisable to choose products of the same brand.

Transfer to another dry food

The transfer between feeds of the same brand is usually easy, since the manufacturer uses the same feed in most cases. Problems arise when owners change the brand of a diet or offer a medicated product to the animal. In the latter case, the situation is complicated by malaise and a general deterioration in appetite.

Ideally, translation should be done gradually. Within 1-2 weeks, the old food is slowly replaced with new food: first, the share of the first in the bowl is only 10%, then 20%, etc. As a result, the owner completely transfers the animal to the new food without consequences for the pet's gastrointestinal tract. In reality, the owners often face difficulties.

Many animals refuse new food at an early stage. They eat away familiar pellets and leave some of the food in the bowl. You can deal with this with the help of tricks. Adding spider sauce works especially well. It saturates all the pellets, which is why cats most often begin to eat the entire serving.

Felix wet food
Felix wet food

Cats are happy to eat gravy and gravy made from economy class wet food, but such supplements should only be given to healthy animals and in limited quantities.

If the pet still refuses to eat, it is recommended to adhere to the regime and ignore selectivity. Sooner or later, the animal will be forced to eat new food due to hunger. The method is not suitable for unhealthy pets: in their case, refusing food and a sharp change in the menu can provoke an exacerbation.

Sometimes the reluctance to eat new food is associated with a sharp change in taste and an increased content of ash (over 9%) and meat. When I transferred my cats to "Origen", I had to face this. As pets are accustomed to more budgetary premium and super-premium foods that contain less meat, they vehemently refused the new food. In my case, an intermediate translation for Akana products helped. It also contains less meat, so the cats were persuaded. After about 2 months, we switched to the Origen feed without any problems.

What to do if a cat refuses dry food

First of all, you need to try to independently determine the cause of the deterioration in appetite and clarify the condition of the pet. Offer your cat another dry food, pâté, pouches, or organic foods. If the deterioration in appetite is associated with food spoilage or selectivity, the pet will begin to eat. In such cases, it is recommended that you purchase a new food package and provide the cat with a comfortable environment so that it can recuperate in the presence of stressors.

If the cat has completely lost interest in food, it is necessary to examine it. The pet should have clean eyes and ears: the presence of uncharacteristic discharge may indicate the presence of parasites, allergies, inflammation and other pathologies. Sunken eyes can indirectly indicate dehydration. On the teeth of the cat, stones and dark areas should not be found. Gum bleeding, neoplasms and redness of the border near the canines are unacceptable.

Gingivitis in a cat
Gingivitis in a cat

Inflammation of the gums can lead to feed refusal

To check the general condition, it is recommended to evaluate the filling rate of the capillaries. To do this, lightly press on the gum, release it and wait for it to turn pink again. Normally, this happens in 1–2 seconds. A delay indicates dehydration. Other indirect signs of dehydration are sticky gums and slow straightening of the skin when grasping folds with fingers.

In the absence of pronounced signs of malaise, it is allowed to observe the condition of the animal for 1–2 days. Later, with a complete rejection of food, the beginning of irreversible changes is possible, therefore, prolonged fasting is unacceptable. If the animal eats, but little, the actions of the owner should depend on the condition of the cat and its behavior. When in heat, this is considered the norm, but in some cases urgent help is required.

When you urgently need to contact the veterinarian

It is allowed to wait for the self-normalization of the condition only if the cat is feeling well. Intervention is not required if the reason for refusal to feed was mild stress, selectivity or violation of the daily routine. However, if uncharacteristic symptoms appear and prolonged fasting (more than 2 days for an adult cat, more than 6-12 hours for a small kitten), you should contact your veterinarian for examination.

An urgent visit to the clinic is mandatory in the following cases:

  1. The cat has begun to dehydrate. It can appear on the background of vomiting, nausea, or refusal to water. The last symptom is of greatest concern, since it indicates serious disturbances in the functioning of internal organs. Dehydration can kill a pet in a matter of hours due to thickening of the blood, so you should urgently contact your veterinarian for an intravenous infusion of fluid. At home, it is allowed to inject Ringer-Locke's solution into the withers, but it is better to first find out the cause of the ailment.
  2. The cat lies in one place, tries to stay closer to heat sources and reacts sluggishly to what is happening. In most cases, this indicates severe discomfort and pain. Animals rarely complain of discomfort, since by their standards it is a weakness and can be fraught with death from the paws of another predator.
  3. The cat is behaving strangely. Sometimes pets meow plaintively, unable to bear the pain or trying to communicate it, but this is rare. Due to discomfort, the animal may ask you to pet it or, conversely, not allow you to touch the problem area. Cats often become aggressive.
  4. The animal has a fever. The normal indicator for adult cats is + 38 … + 39 ° C. In kittens, the temperature may be slightly higher - + 38.5 … + 39.5 ° C. An increase of 1 ° C indicates inflammation, but in general it is not life threatening. If the temperature rises by 2 ° C, an urgent need to contact the veterinarian. A rise of 3 ° C can be critical.

The most dangerous symptoms include vomiting, nausea, inability to empty the bowels or bladder for a long time (more than 2-3 days and 18-24 hours, respectively), disorders of the musculoskeletal system, etc. With itching, rash, moderate diarrhea without dehydration and other manifestations of mild severity, the cat can wait, but it is better to contact the veterinarian as soon as possible, since even banal spots on the skin may indicate, for example, liver pathologies.

Veterinarian advice

Refusal of dry food can accompany both hunting and stress, and serious illness. The task of the pet owner is to be able to distinguish one from the other and turn to the veterinarian for help in time. If in doubt, it is better to visit the clinic just in case, because a mistake can cost your pet a life.

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