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Cat eating less than normal.

Species: Cat
Breed: Domestic Shorthair
Age: 2-5 years
My cat Noir hasn't been feeling well for about 5 days now. He is a 3 year old, black, altered, male. He isn't overweight. He has a history of FLUTD but since I found his triggers, 8 months ago, he hasn't had a single episode. He eats canned and raw food, no dry. He is allowed outside for a few hours a day and is inside the rest of the time. He hunts in the barn and eats his kills. We allow no poison on the property.

Behaviorly he is normally an active cat who will purr if you even look at him. He's loving, and periodically hops up in my lap for petting.
His symptoms are:
Excessive sleeping.
Eating way less than normal.
Not interacting like normal. Doesn't want petting.
Isn't purring.

I've tempted him with his very favorite foods and over the past few days he has eaten less and less each day. This morning he only ate a tablespoon of gravy from his wet food.

He is visiting the litterbox, grooming himself, and when he is awake he walks normally with his tail held high. His eyes are clear, bright and the third eyelid is not showing. He jumps up on the furniture with no obvious pain or instability. His gums are black so I can't check them for color. But his tongue is a normal pink. He allows me to feel him all over and palipate his abdoman with no indications of discomfort. He's ok with being picked up. I've observed that his urination is normal. I haven't observed him passing a stool yet but he isn't straining at all. He may well have as we are a multi-cat household and I can't tell whose it is once it is buried in the litterbox.

The first day I noticed him feeling bad he was holding his ears back, shaking his head and gently scratching at his ears. I administered Mometamax from a previous Rx and within a day he was much better in that respect. I have continued with one drop per day and his ears seem fine at this point.

He had his vaccinations 3 weeks ago and didn't feel well for several days but then seemed normal.

I am at a complete loss as to what to do. As long as he was eating I was willing to adopt a wait and see attitude. But as he is now refusing his favorite foods I feel I need to be doing more.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that Noir is not feeling well. Any time a cat has a reduced appetite there is something going on. When you combine this with the fact that he is very quiet, then there is definitely some type of medical issue here.

One of the problems with cases like this is that there are a great number of things that can cause these symptoms so it's going to be hard to say what the problem is.

By far the most common reason for these symptoms is a cat bite or scratch. You mentioned that he does go outside so this is certainly possible. Often when a cat has been bitten or scratched we can't see any wound anywhere. The skin wound often heals up quickly but infection can be present in a muscles somewhere under the skin. This can cause a fever which can definitely cause inappetence and lethargy. The treatment for this would be antibiotics prescribed by the vet.

Some kind of pain could cause these symptoms as well. Pain is really difficult to determine on a cat and unfortunately there aren't any over the counter medicines available for pain for cats.

There are a great number of other possibilities but my guess is that this is an infection and he needs some antibiotics. It's unfortunate that this has happened on the weekend. My general rule of thumb is that if a cat is not eating well I don't like to wait more than 24 hours without seeing the vet. If we wait too long then some cats can go on to get a serious condition called fatty liver.

If this is an infection then the visit may not be too expensive. It may just be a matter of a visit plus antibiotics. But, if the doctor is suspecting something else they may want to do some blood tests.

I wish I could give you some more actionable advice, but from what you've described I really do think a visit is a good idea.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you for your time. I was afraid that was the case as he is normally the picture of health.

I was hoping to get out of a vet visit as he doesn't travel well and is absolutely terrified of any vet. The stress of a visit can bring on a FLUTD episode.

I will call first thing tomorrow and get him in asap. In the meantime I'll keep trying to get food into him.


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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.