How to Help a Cat Adjusting to a New Home and Not Eating

How to help a new cat who is not eating:

Your cat adjusting to a new home can refuse to eat because changes in the environment can stress it. Help them adjust by:

  • Make feeding time fun
  • Offer same food as the shelter did
  • Create more food options
  • Place it in a room

If your cat has not eaten more than 24 hours, seek a vet immediately.

Bringing a new cat home is an exciting experience for any pet owner. You want to provide the best environment for them, and ensure your cat feels comfortable in your home.

But it can be quite distressing to see your cat refuse to eat.

Acting strangely or not eating is very common for upwards of two weeks, after your cat has arrived to a new home. Keep reading, to know how to help your new cat start eating.

Read more, to know why your cat adjusting to a new home is not eating, and how to help it.


Changes in the Environment Can be Stressful

To ensure your cat experiences a smooth integration into your home, consider its background. Learn about its former home; if it was in a cage, foster home, or a room.

Did it come from a noisy environment with other cats, or was it in a quiet place? How often did it eat?

Cats are creatures of habit. Moving to a new location can greatly distress your furry friend. Maybe they are mourning the loss of a fellow cat at their old place.

Maybe they did not like the ride home. Some cats experience motion sickness when traveling by car, which can lead to nausea and refusal to eat.

But there is also the possibility that your feline is sick. This can also make them unwilling to eat.

Changes can be very stressful to your cat, and cause it to stop eating. If you recognize signs of stress, change your cat’s living situation slowly over time.

This ensures you maintain its previous routine, while helping them adjust to your routine over time. The good news is that you can help your cat overcome whatever is making them less interested in food.

Here are a few tricks to encourage your cat to eat:


1. Feed your cat familiar food

The first thing you want to find out is what types of food your cat preferred at the shelter.  Cats eat less, or may stop eating altogether when under stress.

So, it would be helpful to feed your furry friend something familiar. Ask the shelter staff what your cat used to eat, and feed it that type of food for some time.

Perhaps your cat was used to eating wet food, and you are giving them dry food. Some cats are very particular about the consistency, or texture of food. Switching from a minced product to a pate can make a finicky eater ignore the food.

If your cat is still not eating, try mixing a little bit of tastier food such as canned food into its meal.

Some cats like it when you warm their food a bit before serving them.

You can still change your cat’s diet to something different from what they used to eat at the shelter. As long as you make the switch slowly so that they won’t notice.

On the first and second day, feed your cat 25% of your preferred diet, and 75% of the shelter’s diet, mixed. On the third and fourth day, mix the two types of foods equally; 50% each.

On the fifth and sixth days, mix 75% of your preferred diet with 25% of the shelter’s diet. After one week, you can feed your cat 100% of the new diet.

Changing its food rapidly can cause gastrointestinal upset, and may result in diarrhea and a reduced appetite. In case this happens, call your vet immediately.


2. Expand its food options

You can try expanding your cat’s options when it comes to feeding it. Try out different flavor combinations, and see what your cat prefers.

Don’t force your cat to eat as this can elicit a negative association with eating. In addition to increasing its food options, it’s also important to take note of where it dines.

Cats can be picky about the eating area. Heavy traffic areas, new pets in the area, dirty food containers, or food bowls placed next to the litterbox are some of the things that make your cat lose interest in food.


3. Make feeding time fun

Your cat is still adjusting to a new home, and eating may not be an exciting activity as expected. Why not try to make feeding time fun. Your furry friend will look forward to these meals because they associate them with fun activities.

Food-dispensing toys are a fun way to let your cat “hunt” for its food before eating. It is also a great way to enrich its life, and keep them mentally and physically active.

Cats like to stick their paws into small spaces or under things. Their instincts to hunt move them to reach into cracks and crevices, to search for any hiding prey.

You can use slow feeders and puzzle feeders with different compartments, and small openings. Fill these feeders with small amounts of treats, portions of food, and your cat will be quick to claim the prize.

As your cat plays with the toy, perhaps tossing it in the air, the food falls off. Your cat considers this as its reward.

However, it’s good to use such toys when your cat has spent at least two to three weeks at your home.


4. Dedicate a room for your cat

Letting a new cat wander the whole house can be traumatizing. There are new scents all over, and the presence of other members of the house can further scare your cat.

It’s advisable to put your cat in one quiet room. This serene area allows them time to settle into your home.

This room should have its food, water bowl, litter box, and a warm bed. When there is no one looking, your cat will try to eat its food.

It is helpful if no children are allowed to enter the room. Keep it peaceful and quiet. You can also throw blankets or empty carton boxes where your cat can hide.

Don’t worry; your cat will not stay withdrawn for a long time.

Once they get used to this room, they will eat whatever is in their bowl. Remember your cat cannot stay so long without food. It will eventually eat what is in front of them.

It would be so nice when you enter the room, and your cat comes up to you meowing for food.


5. Create a familiar environment

Cats understand change, and they will quickly adjust to a new home. You can help speed up this process by creating an environment that looks, and smells familiar.

Bring a few items such as your cat’s beddings and toys from the old home to the new home. This can bring some calm and security to your cat.

If your cat had a favorite window perch or view it liked in its former home, replicate that in the new home.

Avoid loud sounds that can scare your cat. Your furry friend needs to feel comfortable, and protected.


Cats who Don’t Eat Can be Sick

Your cat may not eat because they feel stressed over the new environment. But there could be a more serious issue that could arise from not eating.

Medical problems such as kidney diseases or ingestion of non-food material can deter a cat from eating.

If your cat fails to eat for 24 to 36 hours even if they are drinking water, it will still need to be checked by a vet. Significant health problems such as liver failure can occur if your cat refuses to eat, resulting in rapid weight loss.

Loss of appetite can lead to significant weight loss in your cat. Our felines are carnivorous, and need regular protein intake.

Here are physical signs that indicate loss of appetite in your cat is a threatening situation:

  • The cat feels lighter when picked up
  • Its spine feels more prominent to the touch
  • They are depressed and weak
  • Eyes with a sunken appearance

Once you observe any of the above problems, take your cat to the vet immediately.


How to Help Your New cat Adjust and Eat

Adjusting to a new home can be a terrifying experience for your cat. A little bit of patience and understanding will go a long way in helping your cat adjust to your home.

Usually, the frightening experience starts on your journey home. This is what we are going to talk about shortly.


1. Make the car ride less dramatic

How your cat reacts at home might be connected to what happened during your ride home. Make the car ride less traumatic for your cat by confining them to a pet carrier.

Don’t allow children to excite your cat during the car ride. This is not the time to stop by at a shop, or visit friends and leave your cat unattended in the car.

2. Keep the new home safe

A scared cat can easily jump out of high open windows. They may try to escape because the place looks so strange.

Your adult cat may have been separated from a familiar home and forced to break a bond with a human companion. Therefore, it is understandable why your cat wants to escape, and go back to its old home.

Close all doors and windows and ensure screens are secure. At the same time, you don’t want to make your cat feel like a prisoner.

Provide them with lots of love and attention while they are at your place. Even if it has refused to eat, you can sit and talk quietly to the cat.

If they are hiding, carefully carry them out of their hiding place, and put them in a quiet protected area where they will feel secure.

Writer: Flora Ojow

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