VCA Spring Branch Animal Hospital
Published: Jan 21, 2013

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Cats are known for having specific preferences, from how she prefers to be pet to where she likes her bed to be. It's not unusual for cats to have particular preferences when it comes to their eating, but if your feline friend is a particularly picky eater, it could cause health problems. When cats go without food for more than 24 hours, they can develop fatty liver disease, which occurs when the liver metabolizes stored fat.

While not all picky eaters are going to run into health concerns, sometimes these types of cat behavior problems can cause a cat to lose or gain a significant amount of weight, both of which can negatively affect her overall well-being. Other times, pickiness at mealtimes can indicate another underlying health problem. Here's what you need to know to manage your cat's diet properly.

Figuring out what's wrong
Before you change anything about your cat's diet, it's a good idea to bring up any concerns you have with your veterinarian. Sudden loss of weight can be a sign of diabetes in cats, especially if she starts eating ravenously, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Weight gain might be a sign of osteoarthritis or other pain. Changes in behavior are the most common signs that something health-related is up with your cat, so bring her to the veterinarian to rule out any underlying conditions that might need treatment.

Pinpointing the issue
If your cat has a normal examination from the vet but is still avoiding her dish, it's a good idea to figure out what other reasons might be behind the change in behavior. Some cats are sensitive to changes in their living environment - have you added a new pet, had a baby or moved recently? Even changes to your cat's routine may turn her off from eating - has your work schedule changed and you are feeding her at a different time? Other cats are simply finicky about the cleanliness of their dish - some prefer it to be squeaky clean in order to eat, so try washing it after each meal.

Changing for the better
Of course, if you have switched to a different type of food and your cat suddenly stopped eating, you know what to do. If the new food is part of plan for weight reduction in cats, introduce it to her slowly, mixing it with her old food and gradually adding more of the new food until you can eliminate the old food entirely.

Sometimes, a switch from free-feeding to specific mealtimes will force your cat to eat. Offer her the food she enjoys, then take it away after 30 minutes. Eventually, she will realize that she needs to eat right away if she doesn't want to be hungry later, Animal Planet reports.

Another trick to try is to change the temperature of the cat's food. Some cats don't like when their wet food is cold from the refrigerator, so consider keeping it out or warming it to room temperature before serving.

If your cat isn't eating because of a change in lifestyle, it's a good idea to establish a solid, comfortable routine and coax her into mealtimes with treats, a clean feeding dish and a peaceful eating environment, away from new pets or noisy children.


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency during normal business hours, please call us immediately. If you have an emergency outside of our normal business hours, please contact a local emergency animal hospital.