Cat illnesses & lack of appetite

Written by robyn broyles
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Cat illnesses & lack of appetite
A cat who is not feeling well may lose her appetite. (Image by, courtesy of eva)

Lack of appetite (anorexia) is a common, non-specific symptom in cats. Cat illnesses causing appetite loss range from minor to life threatening and should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

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Mouth Pain

Tooth and gum disease are common and may make eating painful for a cat. An abscess in the mouth is another cause of oral pain.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is common in older cats, especially those fed only dry food. These cats may be chronically dehydrated. Toxin build-up in the blood makes the cat feel sick, and anorexia is a common sign.

Feline Diabetes

In diabetes, blood sugar is too high. It can cause a cat's appetite to change in either direction, either increased or decreased.


Lack of appetite is one of the main symptoms of pancreatitis. This life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas needs immediate treatment.


Viral infections that can cause anorexia include feline leukaemia virus, feline distemper, and many others. Bacterial infections can also lead to lack of appetite.


If a cat does not eat for over a day, it can cause serious complications. Severe appetite loss for any reason requires urgent veterinary care.

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