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WHAT CAN I DO TO ENCOURAGE MY PICKY, SICK, OR OLDER CAT TO EAT?

What Can I Do To Get My Sick Cat To Eat?

Illness generally causes lethargy and loss of appetite. But remember that kittens should never go without food for more than 24 hours--adult cats no more than 48 hours.

Sick or not, cats are finicky eaters by nature, and, of course, that doesn't improve when they are ill. But there are things you can do to encourage your pet to eat:

  • Moisten dry food with a bit of warm water or gravy to make it more palatable.
  • Warm up canned food. Cats prefer their food at room temperature or slightly warmer.
  • Serve food and water in easy-to-clean, heavyweight ceramic bowls rather than in plastic containers that slide around and retain odors.
  • Hand-feed your cat and talk to him as he eats. Stimulate his appetite by stroking his head and neck.
  • Let your cat lick a bit of food off your finger or off his paw.
  • Opt to feed your cat a strongly scented cat food. Cats won't eat what they can't smell, so if your pet is congested, he may need some additional stimulation.

Your cat's appetite should improve through these measures. If all these efforts fail, go to your vet for a prescription for an appetite stimulant like diazepam (Valium), oxazepam (Serax), or flurazepam. A word of caution, however: Never give your cat human medicine.