Why Don’t Cats Eat All Their Food

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 25% of US households have cats. This means that approximately 3 out of 10 homes have a cat on their premises. If you are a “cat person,” you probably have an unexplainable affection for these feline creatures. 

As such, it is no surprise that you could lose your peace of mind when you notice that your cat is not eating as they normally do. There are a variety of reasons why your cat could fail to finish all the food you provide. Some may be more severe than others, but the reasons we’re going to discuss may help you understand how to help your cat. 

The obvious reason a cat might not finish their food is that its stomach is full. Cats have stomachs about the size of a table tennis ball, so it takes several breaks rather than eating the entire portion at once.

So, let’s have a look at why do cats not eat all their food

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1. Full Stomach

Cats have relatively small guts, about the size of a table tennis ball. It is easy to jump to conclusions when you notice your cat is not finishing food. However, it could be because of something as straightforward as a full stomach. 

Inactive cats may need more time to digest food since they process food slowly. As a result, they may eat less than you would expect. Instead of taking the whole meal in one sitting, your cat may take several breaks when eating a significant portion of food.

Additionally, cats are adventurous and predatory creatures, so your cat could have more than one food source. If your cat snacks outside the house, it may quickly end up with a full stomach, and you might not know. 

2. Primal Instincts 

In the wild, cats often hunt for prey several times throughout the day. Each meal would fuel the next hunt for another food source. The eating patterns of cats may differ from those of humans. Domestic cats also act like their evolutionary parents, preferring small, frequent meals all through the day.

As such, your cat may be only following some primal inclinations and eating small portions of food at a time. So, you may want to leave your cat some food to nibble on each day. 

3. Saving Some For Later

Another common instinct among felines is saving some extra food for later, should they not find more. After hunting, wild cats can hide a portion of their meal for later consumption. Similarly, your cat may feel the need to set some food apart for eating afterward. Placing small amounts of food at a time for your cat could help this behavior. 

4. Sensitive Whiskers 

You may notice that your cat is eating the middle portion of the food, leaving an outer ring of leftovers. You may be wondering whether it is normal cat behavior. The reason your cat may do this may be because their whiskers are sensitive.

Whiskers are full of nerves and sensory cells, making them sensitive enough to feel a slight breeze. It is not hard to imagine why a cat would leave some food after experiencing some discomfort on its whiskers. 

Whisker sensitivity differs among cats and varies to different degrees. Cats with very sensitive whiskers may avoid pushing their whiskers into the sides of a deep bowl. If your cat feels uncomfortable while eating, they will probably leave some leftovers. If you believe this may be the case, you should try using a shallow, open bowl instead of a deep, shallow one. 

5. Sickness 

At times, the reason your cat is not eating, as usual, could be health-related. If your cat is unwell, less appetite could be a symptom of a more difficult situation. Respiratory, digestive, dental, and kidney issues can all affect how your cat is eating. 

Respiratory Illnesses 

There are respiratory conditions that can affect your cat’s sense of smell and ability to breathe. Also, these illnesses can cause a loss of appetite. If your cat has a respiratory disease, they may not smell the food or feel like eating it and leave some leftovers. You can treat these respiratory problems with some antibiotics to fight any bacterial infections. 

Digestive Problems 

Lack of appetite is one of the earliest signs of digestion issues. Your cat may refuse to eat regularly because of acid reflux, tumors, parasites, irritable bowel syndrome, or other diseases. 

If your cat is vomiting, experiencing diarrhea, or abdominal pain, it could refrain from eating. If you suspect such an illness in your cat, you should seek some assistance from a veterinarian. 

Dental Issues 

Another reason your cat can stop eating is painful teeth or gums from a dental problem. Some dental issues that can cause your cat pain in the mouth are:

  • Fractured teeth
  • Resorbing lesions in the teeth 
  • Gum inflammation 
  • Dental abscesses 

Just like you, your cat may not want to eat while experiencing mouth pain. Diagnosing dental issues in your cat is no easy task. If you think that your cat may have some tooth pain, you may want to employ your veterinarian’s help.

Kidney Disease 

If you didn’t know, kidney disease is quite a common ailment among cats. The illness causes nausea, which may discourage your cat from eating as they usually do. 

6. Boredom or Preference

Cats can act on preference when it comes to food. After months of eating one type of food, it is not uncommon for cats to decide they won’t eat it anymore. It is common, especially among older cats, to reject diet changes contrary to their routine.

Also, your cat may be sourcing food from hunts around the neighborhood. If your cat is not hungry, it may lose interest in the cat food you provide. In other cases, cats can notice changes in manufacturers’ flavors and ingredients and refuse to eat. 

Canned cat food can become monotonous for cats. You can try some occasional treats to switch up their diet. However, avoid adding garlic, onions, etc. to spice up your cat’s food. Some additives can be repelling to cats. 

Your cat could be picky when considering food texture. Some cats will only eat crunchy dry foods, while others prefer canned wet food. Understanding your cat’s preference could help you avoid eating problems. 

7. When Cat Food Goes Bad 

Cats are highly cognizant creatures, especially when it comes to their senses. You may not quickly get away with serving your cat spoiled food. Cats have strong feelings of smell and taste and will notice any rancid odors before eating the food. 

Before giving your cat a bowl of food, ensure that it is not past its expiry date. If the food is not suitable for eating, avoid feeding it to your cat. 

8. Recent Vaccination 

After a cat receives a vaccine, it may exhibit side effects such as fatigue and appetite loss. In most cases, the side effects will disappear within a short time, but it may vary among cats. If your cat stops eating after regular vaccinations, they may be experiencing some adverse reactions to the vaccines. If symptoms persist, consult your veterinarian. 

9. Age 

As living things grow older, cellular metabolism reduces. This is the same for cats; as they grow older, their organ systems get worn down, and they start experiencing various difficulties. If your cat is growing old, they may begin to reduce the amount of food they eat. Do you keep track of your cat’s birthday? It could be that your cat is suffering from old age. 

10. Location 

When you have more than one cat or pet, it could lead to some feeding issues. Cats, like other animals, can be territorial. Some cats may feel threatened by sharing space with another cat or pet. If your cat senses tension with other pets, they may avoid eating if it’s in the same location. This could be the case, especially when there is a new pet joining the home. 

According to studies, a lot of older cats suffer from arthritis. This condition could limit their ability to reach food, especially when you place it on an elevated surface. If your cat has difficulty accessing the food bowl due to some reason, it may affect their eating. 

11. Distress 

Just like people, animals like cats can have a hard time eating when under duress. Some activities can put your cat under a significant deal of stress. Some examples of these activities may include:

  • Moving to a new home
  • Traveling
  • Visiting the veterinarian
  • New pets in the home
  • Change in routine
  • Long periods of neglect

Any of the above situations could affect your cat’s eating patterns and appetite. However, with time, your cat should return to their usual eating habits. 

12. Adding Medication to Your Cat’s Food 

In cases where a vet prescribes some medicine for your cat, you may feel that adding it to food is the easiest way of administering the medication. However, since cats have sensual awareness, they will likely notice the additions you make to their diet and refuse to eat all the food. 

When your cat smells the food and senses that there could be some unknown substances, it may instinctively reject it. You may have to look for another way of administering the drugs without adding them to the food. 

13. Pregnancy 

Pregnant cats that are close to delivery will stop eating 24-48 hours after birth. When your cat is in parturition (labor), it may show some disinterest in food.

If you notice your cat not eating all the food during pregnancy, it could be that some kittens are on the way. 


Do Cats Eat Less In Spring

Seasons do affect your pet’s appetite. Over the course of four years, English and French researchers examined seasonal changes in dietary patterns in 38 cats.

Cats ate less from June to August and more between October and February. They ate between these extremes in spring and fall. In summer, cats ate 15% less than in winter.

Why Do Cats Only Eat The Middle Of The Bowl

Edges of the bowl can irritate cats. It causes whisker fatigue when their whiskers rub against it.

There is an easy solution to this problem: purchase a cat bowl with much lower edges. Wet food can also be served on a flat plate. This will allow your cat to eat his food without rubbing his whiskers.

What Do I Do If My Cat Doesn’t Finish Her Food?

You can gradually introduce new, interesting foods to your cat if it doesn’t finish its food. Try mixing a spoonful of wet food with dry food at mealtime if it gets boring eating dry food.