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PETS’ CORNER If puss is suddenly picky

Living

A lack of appetite could be the sign of something serious.

If puss is suddenly picky


Ask the Vet
Esther Van Luipen

Eating problems in cats are often dismissed. Most people think cats are extremely finicky, but this is not always the case. A lack of appetite should always be cause for concern.
If your cat stops eating entirely or is only picking at food, it isn’t really necessary to run straight to the vet if it’s only been for a day. You may try a few tricks first to get the cat to eat, like offering the cat fresh food. Canned food and fish go off very quickly, so what was a lovely bowl of food in the morning can be a stinky, unappetising meal later in the day. If this is the case, it might be an idea to offer the cat little bits of food more often to keep it fresh. Another little trick is to warm the food up in the microwave for just a few seconds. The food gets more palatable and aromatic that way, which might change your cat’s mind about eating it.
Of course, you know your cat best, and if your cat even refuses its favourite treats, or if you think that your cat might be losing weight, it is time to take action.
There are several different reasons that a cat might lose its appetite, so there is absolutely no point in going to the vet to ask for an appetite stimulant over the counter. You must bring the cat in to be seen.
For instance, we could be looking at kidney disease, which makes your cat feel nauseous. Cats also lose their appetite if they are in pain, or if they feel generally ill – for instance if they have a bite wound resulting in an abscess. All these situations need to be addressed as soon as possible.
Gum problems can also put your cat off its food. Plasma cell stomatitis is a disease of the gums, especially at the back of the mouth. They can be very inflamed and have an angry red colour. This makes the mouth very sore, and so very painful to eat. The cause of this disease is not completely known, but it is mostly associated with feline immunodeficiency virus or calicivirus. This disease can’t be cured, but can be managed so that your cat can eat without pain.
When a cat is not eating for a while it develops fatty liver, one of the most common severe feline liver diseases. So remember, if your cat is being ‘finicky’, please make sure to take it seriously.

> Esther van Luipen is a veterinary surgeon in Claremorris Small Animal Practice. She can be contacted at 094 9373955 or at living@mayonews.ie.