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roger the cat refuses to eat

Category: general | Submitted: 20 August 2010 06:56PM | viewed 35641 times
Q Mary asks about ROGER (cat - domestic short haired, M) :

Please help. Roger, our 12 year old and much-loved cat, has simply stopped eating. We have tried everything. He walks up to his food bowl as if he wants his food, then turns away. Brief history: 2 yrs ago he was diagnosed as diabetic. He coped very well with the insulin injections twice a day. Then he had an infection in his paw which resulted in an op. to remove a toe. After that he went downhill. But the upside is that he seems to have shaken off the diabetes, and hasn't had an insulin injection for 3 weeks. But then he stopped eating. Tests were done on mouth, throat etc., and an xray showed a fractured sternum. The vet was unsure as to how long he has had this, so prescribed a painkiller. Two weeks later Roger is refusing all food (though drinks a little from our pond and brings in a mouse a night, which he eats - apart from the liver). We are frantic with worry. Our vet admits he is totally baffled. He suggests that Roger is getting food from neighbours, but we are pretty confident that he isn't. He is losing weight rapidly, and anyway most of our neighbours know him, and most have dogs! I just can't bear the thought of him starving himself to death. Do you have any ideas what might be wrong? Thank you. Mary x

Q Our vet says: I can understand how concerned you must be. It can be frustrating and worrying when cats stop eating for any reason.

Common reasons for cats to stop eating include pain or discomfort, illness, stress and sometimes dislike of food or being fed elsewhere. Sometimes behavioural factors can play a part too. Perhaps food is associated with previous nausea or oral pain etc. Many cats enjoy variety in their diet or at the other extreme they may only like one flavour of one brand of food.

I would assume that Roger is still reasonably well since you say he catches and eats a mouse every day. This requires a lot of skill and energy, so Roger is doing well in this and he will get a lot of nutrition from that mouse too!

I wonder, if like many cats when they are successfully hunting, Roger has decided he prefers the taste of fresh mouse to prepared cat diets or even human type food. He could also be getting food elsewhere.

If Roger is losing weight it would be sensible to get him weighed regularly to keep an eye on this. If your vet is concerned that Roger's weight is unhealthy then he may wish to do some further tests.

You could try to tempt Roger into eating again. Have you tried warming his food up to body temperature? This will bring out the flavour and smells. Also try offering a variety of different foods in terms of flavour and texture to see if there is anything Roger likes. Make sure that water bowls and food bowls are well away from each other since most cats would prefer not to eat close to where they drink. Also litter trays should be well away from feeding and drinking areas.

Is there another cat which Roger can see or smell when eating from his bowls at present? This could put him off eating even if it is only by looking through a window. Also check for dogs gazing in or other factors which could make him feel vulnerable while eating.
Try moving his feeding equipment up high on to a ledge or surface (off the floor) to help him feel safe while eating.

If all else fails but Roger seems well in himself and is maintaining a reasonable weight then he is probably getting enough food from hunting. If Roger seems lethargic or otherwise unwell or his weight continues to fall then further investigation is necessary to find out why.

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