Hand feed. Put canned food on your finger and then gently place the food on your cat’s gums. Never force-feed your cat because this can create further food aversions. Another option is to use your hands like a bowl and place dry food in them. These methods work best with cats that are social eaters.
Offering a variety of foods, including wet and dry as well as a variety of food shapes will give your cat the opportunity to choose their preference. Offer food little and often, do not leave uneaten food down for long periods or lots of different food choices at once as this can be overwhelming for them.
If they won’t eat anything else, try: A high-calorie weight gain gel can help too – some cats will lick it, others need to have it smeared in their mouth, on their nose, or on their paws. It’s not the best thing for truly long term use but it can help get them started, and give them vitamins and energy.
7 Tips for Getting a Finicky Cat to Eat
Can a cat starve itself to death? Yes! Not intentionally, but sadly due to the way their livers process fat your cat can and will starve itself to death. Unlike people, your cat will never get hungry enough where it will just eat.
The cat associates the feeling of illness with that food and will, therefore, try to avoid it. So if your cat seems to be lacking in appetite, don’t leave the food down, and never try to force-feed it using a syringe. When a cat loses its appetite you want to try all sorts of things to get it eating again.
If they have access to water, the average elderly cat can survive for 8 to 10 days without food. Even if they have enough water, it could take three to four days if they don’t eat protein. It is improbable that a cat would survive more than three days without water or food.
Signs Your Cat Could Be Dying
The list of potential causes for cats not eating is long and diverse and includes kidney disease, cat flu, diabetes, fever, hyperthyroidism and pancreatitis. Dental problems, pain and internal obstructions may also result in your cat not eating.
Loss of appetite is one of the key indicators that something is wrong. So be sure to pay attention if your cat suddenly stops eating. A number of different conditions may be responsible, including infections, kidney failure, pancreatitis, intestinal problems, and cancer.
Catnip – Most cats absolutely love catnip. It comes from the mint family, so it is natural and therefore safe for your cat. A sprinkle of catnip on a toy or on the floor can significantly change your cat’s behavior and stimulate the appetite.
Mirtazapine is a drug that was initially developed to control nausea but has been shown to be an effective appetite stimulant in cats. It has been used for quite some time by veterinarians trying to improve their patients’ appetites, but the issue of giving it to cats that won’t eat has been problematic.
Typically, warming food enhances its smell. As mentioned, smell is the first factor that cats use to determine if they will even try a food. By adding canned food, low-sodium chicken broth, or tuna to dry food and then warming it makes everything smell 10 times better and is more likely to entice your cat to eat.
If a cat doesn’t eat for 24-72 hours, we need to start force feeding. To do this, you’ll need to get human baby food from the grocery store or blend cat food into gruel. You’ll want to get a meat based kind (like chicken or turkey), and make sure it doesn’t have garlic in the ingredient list.
Raw or “gently cooked” fresh food is an excellent diet for elderly cats. Dr. Becker recommends that if it is impossible to feed raw that dehydrated or freeze-dried balanced food reconstituted with plenty of water is good second choice. However, feeding an all dry-food diet in the long run will cause problems.