Don’t worry! Dealing with a cat who licks the food but doesn’t eat it is stressful, but you’re not the only one who had to face this problem. I know it seems scary and you’re worried that something big is going on, but you’re at the right place now and you’ll get all the answers you need to sleep calmly tonight.
Cats are like little kids. We know that something’s going on with them, but they can’t really tell us anything about it. So we need to do everything we can to find out about the problem as soon as possible.
Most of the time, it’s nothing too serious, but sometimes it’s really good to react on time as it can be crucial to saving someone. That’s why I’m here and I want to help you figure out what your cat is thinking and going through while she refuses to eat and only licks everything you give her.
You shouldn’t be as stressed as you are at the moment because you’ll see that most of these reasons can be fixed very quickly and easily. I promise you that you’ll get all the information you need, so let’s not wait any longer.
10 reasons why your cat licks the food but doesn’t eat it
There isn’t one particular reason why your cat licks food but doesn’t eat it. But even though it sounds scary and confusing, when you see these 10 most common ones, you’ll easily figure out which one of them can be applied to your kitty.
You’re the one who knows her the best and the person who spends most of the time with her. So, while reading about these possible reasons you’ll most likely remember even more details that will lead you to the right answer.
The most important thing is to stay calm because panicking won’t help you in any way. I’m sure that you’re more than ready to find out the answers, help your cat, and sleep peacefully, so I suggest you scroll down and get all the explanations.
1) She’s protesting
Yes, cats are one of the cutest animals in the whole world. However, their temper is truly unique. One day your fluffy friend will love you more than anything else. The next day, she’ll find some weird reason to be mad at you, and she’ll want to take revenge.
Her revenge is usually something that she knows has enough power to annoy you. Those are things like scratching your favorite piece of furniture, your hand, or even jumping on the brand-new TV you have in your living room.
However, they are smart animals and they eventually realize that we really care about them. And when they do, cats will use that as their perfect revenge. They know that you get stressed every time they do something to your house. But also that you’re way more worried if something happens to them.
So if your cat got angry at you for some mysterious reason, she might choose to be a bit dramatic. So she’ll just lick the food you give her and not actually eat it. But it won’t last for long because she’ll eventually realize she’s very hungry and her revenge is over.
2) She doesn’t like your feeding routine
I don’t know if you’re the kind of person who likes to have a fixed meal schedule. Breakfast before work, lunch around 3 PM, no late dinners, or however it looks for you. Even if you’re not, and you really just eat when you’re hungry, you need to know that cats definitely like to feel safe when it comes to food.
Your kitty’s favorite activities include exploring her surroundings, playing, and surprise, surprise… eating! It’s just an activity every cat adores and they’re just like the world’s most famous gourmands. If they could cook for themselves, trust me they would. But they expect you to do that for them since they can’t.
If you don’t have a feeding routine for your fluffy friend, she’ll be forced to spend the day looking for other sources of food. Not because she doesn’t like the meals you prepare for her. But because she doesn’t know when you’ll come back home to feed her and she doesn’t like being hungry.
If she knows that you always feed her in the morning before work, and at night before going to bed, she’ll feel secure. And she won’t feel the need to go around the house and look for leftovers. If your cat just licks the food but doesn’t eat it, the chances are that she already ate something she found on the floor.
3) Your cat is not happy with the temperature and texture of the food
I already told you that one of the most beautiful love stories is the one between food and cats. Maybe it’s one-sided, but your fluffy buddy doesn’t really care. She just loves food so much that she doesn’t care if she seems too desperate. Jokes aside, cats really do enjoy eating. BUT!
They are also picky most of the time. And when I say that I don’t really think about choosing the cheapest or the most expensive meals for her. They care about some other things even more than they do about taste. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but it’s actually true.
The things they care the most about are actually the temperature and texture of the food you’ve prepared for them. Some kitties prefer dry food, while others adore eating wet pieces of meat. And there’s almost no cat that’s happy to see both options.
And when it comes to the temperature, they hate cold food! Imagine someone served you a soup that’s been made a few hours ago and it’s really cold. I don’t think you would really enjoy it as much as you would enjoy a warm bowl of it. It’s the same for cats! So pay attention to that.
4) She doesn’t like her bowl
Texture and temperature are not the only things cats can be picky about. It’s also their food bowl. Let’s put it like this. Did you ever notice that little kids have their favorite plate, and they always want to eat from it because it has their favorite cartoon character on it? I think most of us have seen that.
And as I already mentioned, cats and toddlers are very similar when it comes to some things. And this is definitely one of them. Yes, it’s possible that your cat has a bowl she likes and the other one that she doesn’t. Sometimes she just gets bored of it and wants to see a new one.
One thing that’s very important when choosing a bowl is its shape and height. If it’s too deep, their whiskers touch the sides of it and it will make your cat annoyed. It should also be placed somewhere in a flat and easily accessible area because your kitty likes to sit down and eat.
So if your cat is only licking the food but she doesn’t eat it, you should definitely check out your bowl. If she stopped eating after you just got her a new one, it’s possible that she doesn’t like it.
5) She’s dealing with whisker fatigue
Have you ever heard about whisker fatigue? Don’t worry, I’m here to explain everything. Cat’s whiskers are a very important part of her. That’s because those tiny hairs provide important input. It helps a lot when it comes to smell and spatial orientation, and then it helps kitties navigate their environment.
But what’s whisker fatigue? Whiskers are sensitive and their overstimulation can cause a temporary condition. And that condition is what we call whisker fatigue. It’s important because it’s likely to cause a loss of appetite.
It’s usually caused by buying the wrong food bowl. Remember the thing we just mentioned? Cats don’t like to have deep bowls because their whiskers touch the sides of them and it’s definitely not a nice feeling. It causes overstimulation and what happens after that? That’s correct, whisker fatigue.
If you noticed that your fluffball only eats the gravy and ignores the rest of the meal, she might be overwhelmed by the aroma. Appetite loss is not the only problem that may occur. You may catch your cat doing unusual things like moving food around her bowl, pawing at the leftovers, or even meowing.
6) Your kitty gets too many treats
I know that there’s no better feeling than seeing your pet happy. And every time your fluffy buddy does something good, you want to give him a treat. And if you’re one of those owners who actually treat their cat often, then you might have accidentally caused this problem.
Let’s go back to kids and cats again. Do you remember when you were younger and your grandma wouldn’t let you eat any sweets before you’ve eaten your lunch? Why did she do it? Because she knew you’d be full after eating that chocolate and you’d refuse to eat what she had prepared for you.
Cats are big fans of treats! They love when you give them a purrfect piece of raw meat or jerky. However, if you do that too often they might refuse to eat other stuff you prepare for them. Because they know you would eventually give them the food they want.
However, don’t let your cat trick you. Make sure a treat stays a treat and not her regular meal. You’ll always need to have some kind of a treat and if you let your guard down she’ll do the same thing over and over.
7) She doesn’t like the environment
If your cat just licks the food and doesn’t eat it, the environment might be the problem. But what do I mean by that? I want you to think about this. Do you feel better eating at your own dining table or at the crowded bus station? I think almost everyone would choose the first option.
Cats like to have their own peaceful place when they’re eating. So if you put your fluffball’s bowl in the living room where there are always many people and tons of different sounds coming from your TV or the phone, chances are she’ll refuse to eat.
If she doesn’t feel secure while eating she’ll become anxious. And an anxious cat is one who loses her appetite easily. But if she really starts dealing with anxiety, her loss of appetite won’t be the only problem that you’ll have to deal with.
So the best advice I have for you is to find a special place in the least crowded part of your home and put her bowl there. That way you’ll give your feline a chance to enjoy her every meal and you’ll allow yourself to sleep peacefully at night knowing that everything’s fine.
It’s common knowledge that cats are the cleanest animals in the world. If they’re not playing, eating, or exploring, you’ll definitely find them in the corner of your room cleaning themselves. Self-care is very important to them, and we really have someone to look up to.
However, it’s not only about keeping themselves clean. Cats want everything around them to be like that too. So you might also see them licking your floor or kitchen table. It’s probably because they found some pieces of food there, but they also wanted to clean the place. It’s a win-win situation for them.
If you notice that your fluffy friend stopped eating from her bowl all of a sudden, then you should check whether it and its surroundings are completely clean. If they aren’t, it’s likely that you’ve found the reason for your cat’s loss of appetite.
So clean everything and if your cat starts eating again, you’ll know that this was the reason for her protest. However, if she still doesn’t eat and you think you’ve done everything you could, you should call your vet and ask for their opinion.
9) Frequency of meals
If you remember, I told you that cats love to have a fixed meal schedule. You don’t have to serve her breakfast at sharp 8 AM every morning. But if it’s usually around that time then you should not make her wait after 9:30 AM. Or she’ll be forced to explore her surroundings and hunt for food.
And if we’re talking about that then it’s logical that the frequency of meals also plays a big role when it comes to your fluffball and her eating habits. If your cat only licks food but doesn’t eat it, it’s possible that there’s something wrong with the frequency of the meals you give her.
Your cat should have at least two meals a day. And you need to make sure that 12 hours can’t pass without giving her any food. If you know you’ll be gone for longer than that either find a catsitter or buy the feeding machine that gives food at the times you’ve scheduled.
Always make sure that you know which food is okay for her and which isn’t. Because that can also be one of the reasons she might be refusing to eat what you’ve given her. No one likes to feel stomachache after eating something, and neither does your cat.
10) Health problems
And the last thing is the one that stresses everyone out. But it’s the least common option so I put it at the end. However, if you think that neither of the reasons mentioned above can be applied to your feline, you need to pay attention to this part of the article and call the vet. The sooner the better.
If your cat refuses to eat the food she licked it might be a sign that she’s having some health problems. Track her habits and see how many changes you’ve noticed and what those changes are. However, if you notice vomiting, fatigue, fever, or diarrhea, you should contact your vet right away.
The most common health issues that have a loss of appetite as one of their symptoms are:
– Bowel obstruction
– Kidney failure
– Dental issues
– Bladder stones
See, it’s not as scary as you thought it would be. But I get it. Your fluffy friend is someone you love a lot and you want to keep her safe at all costs. Well, then I need to congratulate you. Why? Because you’re such a cool cat owner! You noticed a problem and you acted quickly.
Just so you know, your kitty is thankful to have you in her life. And I’m also thankful that there are people like that in the world. I hope that you now know that there are many possible reasons why your cat licks the food but doesn’t eat it. But also that most of them are easily fixed.
I’m sure you’ll sleep better this night and that your cat will soon start eating again. Keep in mind all the possible reasons and you’ll quickly realize which one can be applied to your fluffball. You know her better than anyone else, and I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Good luck!