Help! My new kitten is not eating

You've prepared everything meticulously for your new kitten: The finest kitten food is patiently awaiting in the cupboard, alongside delectable kitten treats, perfect for training rewards. No doubt, you eagerly anticipate the sight of your little pet indulging in a sumptuous feast. However, there are occasions when, instead of that, you'll witness your new kitten refusing to eat and glumly disregarding the bowl of food before them.

When kittens turn their noses up at their meals, our immediate instinct is to assume something is awry with the food itself. Perhaps it's too hot, too cold, too moist, not moist enough, not the preferred fish variety, or the wrong flavor, color, or scent. However, the truth is, there could be numerous reasons why a picky eater rejects the meal before them. It doesn't always imply they disapprove of your choice in kitten food! Here are some common explanations for a kitten's reluctance to eat.

Why is my new kitten not eating?

Choice of Bowl: Kittens dislike having their whiskers constantly brushing against the sides of the bowl as they eat. Although "whisker fatigue" is still under study, one thing is clear – whiskers are highly sensitive antennae that kittens use to gather valuable information from their surroundings. Triggering them repeatedly during a meal could theoretically deter them from eating. Hence, it's advisable to opt for broad, shallow food bowls to prevent these precious whiskers from coming into contact with the dish.

Location: Where you place their food bowl can be just as crucial as the contents. If you notice your new kitten not eating, consider the bowl's placement. Ensure it's far from the litter box and in a low-traffic area, allowing them to dine in peace without disruptions. If there are other pets in the house, remember that your kitten's innate hunting instinct may make them prefer solitary mealtimes. Space your pets' food bowls apart and observe if your kitten becomes more receptive to their food.

Cleanliness: A kitten's reluctance to eat may also be linked to a dish that hasn't been thoroughly cleaned. Always use detergent and rinse the kitten's food bowl well after each meal. Alternatively, consider using ceramic bowls, as they don't retain food odors as plastic ones do.

Stress: A new home is a significant adjustment for a kitten. It's natural for your cat to feel a bit uneasy as they acclimate to their new environment, which can manifest as a loss of appetite. Providing them with an object or blanket from the shelter or breeder, which they are familiar with, can ease the transition. Give your kitten time to settle in, and don't hesitate to consult a vet if they continue to refuse food or eat very little. Using a plug-in pheromone diffuser like Feliway can also help your new kitten adjust to their new home.

Toothache: Another reason for your new kitten's refusal to eat could be discomfort caused by painful teeth or gums. Kittens, like babies, can experience teething pain, which makes eating uncomfortable. Schedule a vet check-up to rule out this possibility.

Illness: Kittens often decline food when they're unwell. Unfortunately, a wide range of health issues, from nasal congestion to intestinal parasites, constipation, or an upset stomach, can deter them from their food bowl. Hence, it's crucial to seek professional assistance if your kitten isn't eating. A vet can differentiate between a finicky eater and a kitten in need of medical attention.

Gradual Food Transition: The food you provide your kitten may differ from what they are accustomed to. Always inquire with the breeder or shelter about their current diet. If you intend to switch their food, do so gradually over a period of about 7-10 days. Initially, offer a small amount of the new food alongside their current diet, gradually increasing the new food while decreasing the old one. This helps your kitten transition to the new food smoothly.

What to do when a new kitten isn't eating

Here are some steps to assist a young kitten with a diminished appetite: