My Cat Not Eating But Purring: Reasons, Care & Solutions

Did you know that purring is not always a sign of happiness in cats? While a purring, cuddly cat may seem content, there are some concerning reasons why your cat may be purring instead of eating.

Loss of appetite accompanied by purring can signal an underlying medical issue that needs veterinary attention. This article will cover why your cat may not be eating, home care tips, and how to prevent future episodes of inappetence.

My Cat Not Eating But Purring

Normal Cat Eating Habits

Cats are obligate carnivores, they require a diet consisting primarily of meat. Their eating habits can vary based on age and environment.

Kittens require more frequent feedings than adult cats. Kittens should be fed small meals 3-4 times per day until 6 months of age. Adult cats typically eat 2-3 times per day.

The average 10-pound adult cat requires 150-200 calories per day. This equates to about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of high-quality dry food or 5.5 ounces of wet food per day. However, calorie needs can vary based on activity level, metabolism, and other factors.

Cats are grazers by nature and prefer to eat small frequent meals throughout the day. Leaving dry food available for your cat to nibble on is an easy way to accommodate this natural behavior. Make sure any uneaten wet food is discarded after a few hours if your cat didn’t finish it right away.

It’s important to pay attention to your cat’s normal food intake. Noticeable decreases or changes in eating habits could signify an underlying health issue. Contact your veterinarian if your cat stops eating for more than 1-2 days.

Related: What Can A 2-Month-Old Kitten Eat? Food & Schedule

Purring as a Sign of Illness

While purring is most often associated with happiness in cats, it can also be a sign that your cat is unwell. When sick, stressed, or injured, cats will purr to self-soothe.

The act of purring releases endorphins, which are hormones that act as natural painkillers. So when your cat is in distress, purring helps to alleviate pain and make them feel better.

Cats may purr when experiencing:

  • Pain from injury or illness
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Grief or sadness
  • Hunger or thirst
  • During labor and nursing

So if your cat is purring more than usual, pay close attention to any other symptoms. Excessive purring combined with changes in eating habits, lethargy, vomiting, or other concerning signs can indicate an underlying medical issue.

While purring may make your cat feel better temporarily, it’s still important to identify the cause and get veterinary care when needed. Never ignore purring along with other symptoms, as your cat may be self-soothing but still need medical treatment.

Possible Reasons for Not Eating

There are several potential causes for a cat to stop eating while still purring:

– Dental disease or mouth pain: Issues like gingivitis, resorptive lesions, or tooth abscesses can make chewing painful. The cat may continue purring to mask signs of illness.

– Nausea: Conditions like gastrointestinal disease, pancreatitis, or certain medications can induce nausea and cause appetite loss. The cat is still seeking comfort through purring.

– Stress or anxiety: Changes to the home environment, new animals/people, or loud noises can stress some cats and suppress their appetite. Purring self-soothes them during turmoil.

– Change in environment: A move, new home, different schedule, or introduction of a new family member can overwhelm some cats. Their eating schedules and habits get disrupted even though they purr for security.

Medical Treatments

If your cat is not eating due to an underlying medical condition, the veterinarian may prescribe certain medications to help increase its appetite and get it back to eating normally.

1) Pain Medication

Cats that are in pain often lose their appetite. The vet may prescribe pain relievers like buprenorphine to make the cat more comfortable and willing to eat. Controlling pain is key to getting a cat to eat again.

2) Anti-Nausea Medication

Nausea is another common reason for appetite loss in cats. Medications like Cerenia (maropitant citrate) can help reduce nausea and vomiting, making the cat more likely to eat.

3) Fluid Therapy

Dehydration from not eating or drinking enough can quickly become serious. Vets often give subcutaneous or intravenous fluids to supply key electrolytes, prevent dehydration, and encourage eating. Adding fluids can perk up a cat and stimulate their appetite.

The right medications prescribed by a vet can help identify and treat the underlying issue leading to appetite loss. With proper medical care, most cats can make a full recovery and return to normal eating habits.

At-Home Care

While waiting for a vet appointment or to determine if medical treatment is needed, there are some at-home care options to encourage a cat to start eating again:

– Gently warm wet food to bring out the aroma and make it more appealing. Warm to about body temperature, but test the temperature before serving.

– Try hand-feeding wet food, a small portion at a time, while petting or gently stroking your cat. This can help relieve stress and encourage eating. 

– Make sure food and water bowls are easy for your cat to access. Place them in familiar locations where your cat feels comfortable.

– Avoid drastic changes to your cat’s diet. Introduce any new food gradually along with their normal foods.

– Serve wet food rather than dry kibble if your cat is not drinking much water. Cats tend to get more hydration from wet foods.

– Consider feeding your cat smaller, more frequent meals if they seem disinterested after a few bites.

– Play with your cat before meals to stimulate appetite. Interactive toys that make them “hunt” for food can also help.

– Make sure your cat is getting adequate playtime and environmental enrichment. Address stressors and boredom that may cause changes in appetite.

– Monitor whether your cat is eliminating normally and watch for signs of dehydration like dry gums or skin tenting. Seek vet advice if dehydration is suspected.

– Track how much your cat is eating each day. Note changes in food interest, energy levels, or behavior. Update your vet on any developments.

With patience and by making food enticing while reducing stress, you can often encourage a cat with a finicky appetite to start eating normally again. But contact your vet promptly if you have any concerns.

Dietary Changes

If your cat is refusing their normal food, there are some dietary changes you can try at home to help stimulate their appetite.

– Switch up food textures. Cats can be picky about textures. If your cat normally eats dry food, try switching to canned food or mixing in some wet food. The smell and texture of canned food are often more enticing. You can also try warming up wet food to release more aroma.

– Use appetite stimulants. Things like tuna juice, clam juice, or commercial appetite stimulants can help whet your cat’s appetite. Try mixing a small amount into their normal food. You can also sprinkle powdered parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast on top for a flavor boost.

– Hand feed for bonding. Sit with your cat and hand-feed them small bites of food. This can help create a positive association with meal time. Go slowly and keep the portions small. 

– Add in human foods. Small amounts of cooked unseasoned chicken, turkey, or fish can encourage eating. Avoid foods high in fat, salt, or sugar. Always double-check human foods are safe for cats before feeding.

The key is trying different textures and flavors until you hit on something your cat finds irresistible. Work closely with your vet if appetite issues persist. Your vet may recommend assisted feeding or appetite stimulant medications.

Related: Dog Picky With Food All Of A Sudden: What To Do

When to Force-Feed

If your cat is refusing to eat for more than 2 days, it may become necessary to force-feed them. However, you should always consult your vet before attempting to force-feed your cat. Your vet can advise you on the safest methods and create a feeding plan tailored to your cat’s needs.

Here are some tips on force-feeding a cat that is not eating:

– Use a syringe or eyedropper to slowly squirt small amounts of fuel food or water into your cat’s mouth. Go slowly and avoid squirting too much at once, which could cause choking.

– Blended or pureed wet cat foods can be easier to syringe feed than dry food or chunks. Mix the food with some warm water to thin it out.

– Place your cat in a sitting position and gently hold their head still. Insert the syringe into the side of their mouth and squirt a small amount, allowing them to swallow before giving more.

– To encourage swallowing, gently rub or stroke your cat’s throat.

– Only feed a few mls at a time, allowing your cat to rest between syringe refills. This can be a stressful process for them.

– Be patient, calm, and loving. If your cat resists too much stop and take a break. Don’t panic them or force it too quickly.

– Consult your vet for how much and how often to feed based on your cat’s needs. Slow and steady feeding is important, but ultimately getting nutrition into your cat is the goal.

Monitoring your cat’s recovery closely while force-feeding is imperative. With patience and care, many cats can recover and regain their appetite after being syringe-fed over a few days by their loving owners.

How to Prevent Future Occurrence

Annual exams allow the vet to monitor your cat’s health and watch for any changes. Bloodwork and other diagnostic tests can detect issues like kidney disease and hyperthyroidism before obvious symptoms appear. Staying on top of vaccines and preventative care is also important.

Reducing stress is another key way to keep your cat eating well. Cats are very sensitive to changes in their environment and routine. Limiting loud noises, construction, visitors, and other disruptions can prevent stress.

Using calming pheromone diffusers and sprays, providing cat trees/perches and scratching posts, and dedicating playtime can all help lower stress. Keeping their schedule consistent with regular mealtimes also promotes relaxation.

Cat-proofing your home removes dangerous hazards. Keep toxic houseplants out of reach, restrict access to string and ribbons that could be ingested, secure open windows with screens, and keep the toilet lid down.

Put away medications and chemicals in locked cabinets. Cover up exposed electrical cords and wires. Remove small, swallowable items from counters and dressers. A safe environment reduces accidents and injuries that could cause episodes of not eating.

A healthy cat will eat and not purr. With some detective work and patience, you can get your cat’s appetite back on track and enjoy their rumbly purrs when they are truly happy and healthy. Don’t assume purring means everything is okay. I hope you find this article helpful, if yes, Share!

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