Cat Not Eating

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How To Force Your Cat To Eat When It Is Not Eating

The reasons cats decide not to eat can be many. Maybe your cat has swallowed something and it is lodged in its digestive system. Maybe your cat has ulcers of some kind. Or maybe it's just a general sickness, and that's why your cat is not eating.

Of course, any time your cat decides it's not going to eat, it is emotionally difficult for you. A child can use words to communicate; a cat cannot. What to do?


In some cases, it may be appropriate to force feed a cat. While it might sound extreme, there is often good reason for it. You see, a cat can develop what is called fatty liver disease in as few as 2-3 days. It doesn't take long. If this happens to your cat, it could shorten its lifespan. In fact, this condition is fatal without treatment. Even cats who are treated may require a feeding tube if they suffer from fatty liver disease. Ultimately, this is why you might consider force feeding your cat. So... how do you do it?

First, get your hands on a large syringe minus the needle. You might be able to find one at a pharmacy or vet clinic. Try to get one with large tip. If you can't, use scissors to cut a large opening in the syringe. After you've acquired an appropriate syringe--either one that you've adapted or one specifically for feeding your cat--you will want to prepare a soft, not-quite-liquid food mixture to put into the syringe. You can moisten dry cat food and combine it with liquids like juice or with soft food like cottage cheese or baby food. Let the food get mushy before trying to feed your cat.

Once the food mixture is ready and mushy enough to squirt out, put it inside the syringe. Place the syringe at the back of your cat's throat and squirt it in. If for some reason your cat resists, grab hold of the scruff of the neck and literally force him to swallow the softened food. Caution: only insert the tip of the syringe and do not get your fingers in the cat's mouth. If your fingers get in the way, you could be accidentally bitten.

You may find that your cat regains its appetite after it is forced to eat some food. Many worried cat owners have reported that this works. And yet there are some extreme cases where force feeding will not be enough to cure a cat not eating. In these cases, you will want to take your cat to the vet. If your vet suggests an ultrasound, go ahead with it. An ultrasound can sometimes pinpoint the problem, not to mention eliminate some causes you may have suspected. If your vet suggests using a prescription to stimulate your cat's appetite, you may want to go ahead with it, as these can sometimes work.

Of course, if your cat was taking prescription drugs or vitamins before it stopped eating, you should stop giving your cat these things. Drugs or vitamins without food can be harsh and even harmful to a cat. Resume your regimen only after your cat has regained its appetite and has begun to eat regularly again.

Animal Behavior