To say that cats are picky eaters is an understatement. Cats are notorious for turning their noses at bowls for no apparent reason. Therefore, every cat parent is familiar with the challenge of feeding a cat.

If feeding a normal, healthy cat is difficult, imagine the effort needed to provide a sick cat. In fact, as a cat parent, chances are you have wondered what to feed a sick cat. As picky is not a challenge enough, you have to deal with a cat that won’t eat. So, what to feed a sick cat that won’t eat? Which foods are acceptable and suitable for a sick cat? Keep reading to find the answers.

how to get a sick cat to eat

How to get a sick cat to eat?

If you want to learn how to get a sick cat to eat, start by determining the underlying cause that makes the cat sick in the first place. Sometimes the answer is straightforward – cats are creatures of habits and hate changes. Simple changes in your home, having guests over, or getting a new feeding bowl can make a cat feel unwell and refuse to eat. Other times, the underlying cause is more severe and requires veterinary attention. Maybe, your cat caught a cold or ate a plant she was not supposed to – both situations lead to sickness and refusal to eat.

Basically, whenever your cat refuses to eat, have her examined by a vet. The vet will determine the issue and suggest treatment options. The sooner the treatment is initiated, the sooner your cat will get her appetite back, and you will not have to deal with the dilemmas of how to make a sick cat eat and what to give a sick cat.

Cats like being spoiled and sick cats adore being as spoiled as possible. Wondering how to feed a sick cat? Well, there are two simple ways of getting a sick cat to eat. Just be careful; your sick cat may like the attention too much and require these feeding methods even after overcoming its sickness.

Offer your presence during mealtime

Some sick cats enjoy your physical presence during mealtime. Others prefer being gently stroked or cheered up with quiet and praising words. Basically, cats are not just picky about what they eat. They can also be picky about their eating companions – for some cats eating alone is averse.


Some cats like to be hand-feed during the entire meal, while others need the gentle push alone. Namely, once they taste the food, they can continue eating on their own. While hand-feeding, you can use your fingers, or, if feeding liquid diets, you can use a teaspoon.
what to feed a sick cat

What to feed a sick cat?

If puzzled by the question of what to feed a sick cat, here are some useful suggestions.

Prescription veterinary diets

As the name suggests, these diets are prescribed by a licensed vet based on the cat’s individual needs. They speed up the recovery process while alleviating the condition’s symptoms and offering the necessary nutrients. They come in different forms – pouches, tins, powders, liquids.

Chicken and rice

The old-fashioned chicken and rice recipe is a miracle worker for sick cats and dogs. Just mix some boiled rice with boiled chicken breasts. You can put the mixture in a blender and serve it as a puree.

Homemade broths and purees

If homemade meals are up to your speed, you can always cook your cat a delicious broth or puree using unseasoned, lean meat.

Taste enhancers

To stimulate your sick cat’s appetite, you can use taste enhancers such as commercially available toppers or simple tuna water. All you need to do is put these enhancers on top of the regular diet or the diet prescribed by the vet.

What to feed a cat that keeps throwing up?

Suppose your cat keeps throwing up whenever you manage to feed her. In that case, you need to take the problem to the next level and seek veterinary help – not just about the underlying issue but about the non-eating situation.

In the past, cat parents were frequently advised to force-feed. There are still cat parents asking how much to force-feed a sick cat. The answer is not to force-feed at all. Force-feeding creates an aversion towards eating in general and often has counter-results. Plus, if the cat is vomiting, what is the point of force-feeding in the first place.

In such situations, seek veterinary help. Based on the case, the vet may give drugs to stop the vomiting and then prescribe drugs that promote appetite, so-called appetite stimulants.

In extreme cases, the vet may advise placing a feeding tube. This may seem like a scary thing, but it is less stressful for than cat than forcefully pouring food down her throat.

feeding a sick cat

How to get a sick cat to drink?

Water is the essence of life. Therefore, knowing how to get a sick cat to drink is equally important as knowing how to get a sick cat to eat.

While force-feeding is not recommended, pouring a few drops of water directly into your cat’s mouth via a syringe can be beneficial.


Getting a sick cat to eat is a real challenge. However, it is comforting to know that every cat parent has dealt with this situation at least once during the cat parenting experience.

Another comforting fact is that your cat will return to its usual self and gain its old appetite as soon as she overcomes the health condition. Once healthy, your cat may still be picky and fussy regarding its food choices, but at least you will know it is not because of a medical issue.

Have you ever dealt with a cat that won’t eat? Was it because of an underlying medical issue? Share your experiences in the comments section below.