It is important for diabetic pets to get proper nutrition. However, sometimes they won’t eat or won’t eat as much as they need. That condition is referred to as inappetance. This article explores some of the reasons why inappetance happens and what a caretaker can do to deal with the situation.

However, a properly regulated diabetic cats should NOT suffer from inappetance. If your feline is not eating what they should then further investigation into this is highly warranted. There are many other associated diseases that may account for inappetance in a properly regulated feline. If your feline is inappetante yet properly regulated for diabetes, please see your veterinarian for more investigation.

It is important to regulation and to general health that a diabetic pet eat a consistent, balanced diet. Because the dosage and timing of insulin shots often is based on the amount and timing of feeding, you should consider the effect of inappetance on your pet’s insulin needs. A lack of feeding may cause hypoglycemia or rebound on an otherwise “safe” dose of insulin. It also may lead to ketoacidosis and fatty liver.

Keep in mind that even if your pet is not eating, his or her body still requires some insulin; this need does not disappear because your pet doesn't eat. About a third to one-half the usual dose is a usual fasting dose. (See the discussion at "Getting regulated--diabetes" at the link below[1]. The advice regarding the need for a reduced insulin dose holds true for dogs as well.)

See also the article on fasting, which is the act of purposefully withholding food and, in some cases fluids, from a pet for a period of time.

Is my cat inappetant?Edit

If your cat is obviously inappetant then the answer to this is clear. However if you suspect your cat is inappetant weighing daily with a scale that can resolute to the gram and is accurate and linear to +/- 1 gram might be suggested. Investment in a scale of this kind can also help you in the long term management of this condition. Affordable examples of this type of scale are the MyWeigh KD-8000 [1] and MK-12K [2] for heavier cats.

Reasons for inappetanceEdit

Maybe nothing is wrongEdit

Sometimes, a temporary bout of inappetance means nothing; the pet just happens not to be hungry. A single missed meal without a history of inappetance should not cause concern that there is an underlying problem. However, you should investigate and address inappetance that continues for more than 12 hours. Over 24 hours with no food, especially for an overweight cat, is a medical emergency as it can quickly lead to fatty liver.

New food? New formulation? Food consistency problems?Edit

Many pets do not automatically accept new foods. If you are switching to a new food, like a low-carb diet, you may need to introduce the new food slowly by mixing the new food with the old food in increasing proportions over time. The article link below[2] discusses how to transition dry-eating cats to canned food.

Some pet food manufacturers change ingredients in their foods without specific notice on the labels. If your pet is refusing a food that it previously has eaten well, you should check for ingredient changes.

Further, some pet food manufacturers have problems with consistency in the production of their products, even though they have not changed ingredients. Is there a change in the appearance or smell of the food? Check the batch numbers on the cans and go back to a can with a batch number that your pet previously has eaten. This may give you a clue whether the inappetance is caused by an unintended change in the food.

Medical problem brewing? Upset stomach?Edit

Animals often become inappetant when they do not feel well. Nausea is a symptom of many other conditions, and will often lead to lack of appetite. (Nausea in cats may be indicated by frequent lip-licking or smacking). Your pet may be brewing a urinary tract infection. If your pet is eating little and favoring one side of its mouth (or pawing at its mouth), it may need to be seen by its vet to determine whether there is a dental infection or other problem.

Some animals have medical conditions, such as pancreatitis, that cause digestive problems and the animal does not eat well because it is nauseated or has diarrhea. Is your pet vomiting (with cats, from other than hair balls)? Have you noticed problems with your pet’s stool? It might be time for a vet visit.

Some medications for other conditions, such as antibiotics, can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Treatments for inappetanceEdit

Before you medicateEdit

Before you medicate for inappetance it is very important to understand why your cat is inappetant. This is a highly critical clinical sign cats exhibit when something is not right with them. If possible, it is important that you try to discover the root of the inappetance first before treating the inappetance itself. There may be other conditions the cat may be suffering from such as periodontal disease (tooth problems), UTI, IBD, Pancreatitis, Cancer and many, many others that the owner may overlook by just treating the inappetance. The treatment of these other underlying condition[s] may elevate the necessity to medically treat for inappetance.

Medications and supplementsEdit

If your pet's inappetance is caused by a course of antibiotics, consider adding a probiotic like Culturelle[3], which is available at vitamin stores, to the animal's food to minimize diarrhea. Nausea and vomiting caused by antibiotics also can be treated with Pepcid AC--plain famotidine, not the Pepcid Complete (1/8 to 1/4 of a 10mg tab for cats 30 to 45 minutes before meals)[4].

Common Appetite Stimulant Drugs-Cats

Periactin (cyproheptadine)[5][6][7]
Remeron (mirtazapine)[8][9]
Valium (diazepam)[10][11][12]
Winstrol (Stanozolol)[13][14][15], an anabolic steroid[16]
Serax (Oxazepam)[17][18][19]

Common Appetite Stimulant Drugs-General

Valium (diazepam)[20][21][22]

Some drugs shown at these Merck Veterinary Manual links[24][25] are not appropriate for all species; some are also not appropriate for pets with diabetes.

Need information on other medications/supplements that caregivers use for nausea/diarrhea (slippery elm?) and to enhance appetite.

Intelligence and simplciity - easy to understand how you think.

Finger and syringe feedingEdit

Depending on the animal’s condition and level of inappetance, some caregivers resort to finger or syringe feeding. Finger feeding involves placing wet food on your fingers and letting the pet lick it off.[26] has information about syringe feeding.

Further ReadingEdit





  1. Vetinfo4cats-Getting Regulated
  2. Transitioning From Dry Food to Canned
  3. Culturelle Website
  4. Diabetes-Other CRF Treatments
  5. Periactin/cyproheptadine
  6. Periactin/cyproheptadine
  7. Periactin/cyproheptadine
  8. Remeron/mirtazapine
  9. Remeron/mirtazapine
  11. Merck Veterinary Manual-Drugs Affecting Appetite
  12. Merck Veterinary Manual-Drugs Used to Stimulate Appetite
  14. Merck Veterinary Manual-Drugs Used to Stimulate Appetite
  15. Merck Veterinary Manual-Drugs Affecting Appetite
  16. Diabetes-Other CRF Treatments
  17. National Institutes of Health-Medline-Oxazepam/Serax
  18. Merck Veterinary Manual-Drugs Used to Stimulate Appetite
  19. Merck Veterinary Manual-Drugs Affecting Appetite
  21. Merck Veterinary Manual-Drugs Affecting Appetite
  22. Merck Veterinary Manual-Drugs Used to Stimulate Appetite
  23. Oxazepam/
  24. Merck Veterinary Manual-Drugs Affecting Appetite
  25. Merck Veterinary Manual-Drugs Used to Stimulate Appetite
  26. Syringe Feeding FAQs
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