Getting a cat to eat

Both of my cats aren’t eating as they should.

Lucy (full name: Lucy in the Sky) prefers to subsist pretty much on snacks. She’s been turning her nose up at most of them, but will occasionally eat a few. She is getting treatment for hyperthyroidism. Behaviorally, she seems otherwise normal. I’ll get her to the vet in a few days if she doesn’t start eating more.

Of more concern is Rita (Lovely Rita Meter Maid), who was in deep hiding for a few days until we finally found her. She has eaten a little bit since then. I had her to the vet yesterday, a number of tests were run, but no diagnosis as yet.

They are 16 years old. They had a pretty stressful time lately – I had family in town (and they don’t like strangers in their house), then we all went away for most of a week for a wedding, came back with family who stayed another day or two. Before anyone asks, I’ll say that we have a woman come in every day to feed them and scoop their litter when we are gone. Lucy did not get her medicine during that time, since the cat sitter never sees either of them when she’s here.

So, any ideas on what I can do to get them to eat?

Gotta work on your thread titles. :wink:

Unless the vet tells you otherwise, I’d be willing to bet they just need a week or so of normality. Cats are twitchy at the best of times, but older ones are a lot less tolerant of disturbances and flip into panic mode a lot easier.

How is their blood work? I’d be concerned about kidney issues with both of them. Hyperthyroidism can mask kidney problems so I’d keep a close eye on her blood work. She should be monitored regularly anyway to be sure she’s being treated appropriately, anyway.

I agree that the stress isn’t helping. I hope it can be a little quieter now. :slight_smile:

I’ve had luck adding a little hot water to canned cat food. Makes it all slushy and warm, probably smellier…well, the cat liked it.

I did a major double-take when I saw the thread title.

Try the pound.


Just goes to show you how human stress can interfere with normal brain function – I was so worried about my stupid cats, the other interpretation of the thread title never occurred to me. :smack:

Just heard from the vet about the rest of Rita’s blood work, which is pretty normal except for the possibility of inflammation somewhere. Her kidney function is fine.

Lucy has regular blood tests for her hyperthyroidism. She showed a slight possible kidney problem in April, and is due to be rechecked in July. I have an appointment for Rita on Friday – if Lucy isn’t eating better by then I’ll bring her in too for testing.

Both cats have eaten a little better today. I have to get myself to understand that at their age I can’t expect to have them all that much longer. I think we had one cat live to almost 18, but the others we’ve had over the years didn’t make it that long.

I had this problem with the normally gluttonous boys, followed by an expensive vet bill + bloodwork, followed by them spontaneously deciding to eat again. The vet recommended meat baby food. They ate some of it.

Not eating is a bigger concern for cats than other species.

Ugh the first link when Googling that was a Mercola one :smack:

I hate to say it but… both my 16-year-old cats stopped eating on their own in their last few weeks of life.

And nary a “Chinese Restaurant” joke yet? I’m not sure if I’m impressed or dismayed.

Try a can of tuna. The cats in my neighborhood will go nuts if i take a can of tuna outside for them. They seem to be able to smell it blocks away and will come running.

A 16 year old cat which went into hiding and isn’t eating?

She knows that she’s dying.

Honestly, that is the answer here. Sorry.

No, it isn’t. There are other possibilities, particularly since their household has been in an uproar lately.

There are two of them. It’s possible that both are dying, but the more parsimonious answer is that they are stressed or sick.

Or the garbage.

Mine slowed down on the eating in their last year of life-gradually losing appetite/interest in food. I kept them going with canned tuna in oil.

For sure. Elderly cats are set in their ways & get all weird when their world changes. Give them a 1-2 weeks to mellow out.

Baby food. Jars of pureed beef or chicken, that kind of stuff. If they don’t start on it, dab a bit on their noses, and they will lick it off, and more often than not, you’re off and running.
I know you’ve had a lot of advice in this thread, but I really hope you’ll try this if they don’t resume eating on their own. If’s one of the very few ‘life hacks’ I know and can swear by. Good luck! I’ve had several cats make it to 18+.

Two things I feel I have to point out:
Tuna might be a good way to tempt them enough to start eating, should not be a permanent substitute for “real” cat food as it causes some kind of health problem (sorry, do not remember what) in the long run.
If you decide to try baby food, please check that it doesn’t contain traces of onion.

Good luck with the kitties and please keep us updated!

Yes to the tuna, or even better tuna juice (the water its packed in). Also the baby food, and warm it up a titch. I’d basically try anything to get them back in the habit of eating, assuming the bloodwork comes back ok. I’m sorry to say that for older cats a sudden loss of appetite triggers kidney failure warnings in me - the kidneys aren’t doing their job so all the crap they are suppose to filter out builds up in the blood stream, and it makes the cat feel nauseated.

If the bloods come back ok in that regard, ask your vet about a short round of appetite stimulant. It can help get them back on track.

If you can, put some food out at night when you go to bed. When the house is really quiet and they sense no one around they’ll come out and nibble a bit here and there. That worked for our old man when we had company over and he would just disappear for a few days. 3-4 days later he was back to his usual self.

Monitor their water intake too.

As others have said, older cats don’t like their world disrupted much and can be easily stressed. A week or two of peace and quiet should bring them around.