13 min

What To Do If Your New Kitten Is Not Eating

If your new kitten is refusing to eat, there are several things that you can do to help ease the stress of the situation. Read what you need to know.

Bridget Reed

Updated December 01, 2022 • Published November 18, 2021

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What To Do If Your New Kitten Is Not Eating

While having a new kitten is extremely exciting for a variety of reasons, it can also prove tremendously stressful having a new addition in the house. If you have observed that your new kitten is not eating often enough or not eating at all, you might be concerned. You could be unsure if they are getting sufficient nutrients or vitamins as a result. Alternatively, you might be concerned that there is something more serious happening.

First, it’s essential to keep in mind that if your new kitten is not eating their food, there are a plethora of possible reasons. It is not necessarily a dire situation, so it is essential to look out for other signs and symptoms that there is something wrong with your pet.

If you are concerned that your new kitten is medically unwell, you should seek immediate medical attention. A vet could help you ease your nerves and provide you with the information that you need to help get your new kitten back on track with eating.

Today, you are going to get all of the information you need to know about what to do if your new kitten is rejecting their food. To begin, you will learn more about some potential reasons that your cat is not interested in their food.

After you have a basic understanding of what leads kittens to not want to eat, you will get some suggestions about how to handle it if your new kitten isn’t eating. Lastly, you will get some insight about when it’s time to take further steps to figure out why your new kitten is not eating their food.

Continue reading to learn more about what to do in the situation that your new kitten is not eating their food. 

Why isn’t my new kitten eating?

Unsurprisingly, there are several potential reasons that your new pet is not interested in eating their food. Getting to the bottom of this can help provide you (both a new or experienced pet owner) with the peace of mind that your pet is medically safe.

In addition to this, it’s essential that you figure out what is leading your pet to engage in this behavior so you can take steps to help. Here are some common reasons why new kittens do not eat

New food

One reason that your new pet might not be enjoying their food is that you transitioned them to a new type of food. The new kitten is acclimated with eating their other type of food, and therefore, naturally, there will be a transition.

If you are looking to change your kitten’s food to something different, it is essential that you are cautious during this transition. Take care to ensure that this process is smooth and does not distress your pet’s stomach or mental well-being.

Bowl type and location

Kittens are highly sensitive creatures, and if their bowl is in a place that they do not like, they will refuse to eat. Location is also important. You should place your cat’s food bowl in a place that does not get too much foot traffic and one where they feel safe.

Additionally, a bowl should be away from where other animals in the house are fed. Your kitten also might have a bowl preference amongst other opinions. 


Cats are extremely clean creatures. For instance, if a litter box is not clean enough for their standards, they might refuse to use it. Therefore, one potential reason why your cat is not eating is that their bowl is not thoroughly clean.

You can sufficiently solve this problem by providing them with a fresh, clean bowl to eat their food out of. 


It’s stressful for young kittens to leave their mother cat and move to a new house. They might be experiencing anxiety as a result of their big move to your house. This could lead a young kitten to lose their appetite and not touch their food. 


Lastly, there’s the potential that your new kitten is not eating as a result of an illness. This is because some illnesses that kittens may have can lead to a lack of appetite. If you are concerned that your pet is sick, you should immediately reach out to a vet to discuss your next steps.

It’s important that you err on the side of caution and reach out as soon as you feel something is wrong with your pet. This doesn’t mean you have to go straight to the emergency vet. Pawp’s veterinarians are available to help you 24/7, and the telehealth appointments mean there’s never a wait — or appointment necessary. 

What should I do if my kitten won’t eat?

If your cat will not eat, there are several steps that you can take to help them get their appetite back. Of course, some of these might be more successful than others, and depending on the root of your cat’s resistance to eating, you can select the appropriate course of action.

Here’s what to do if your new kitten refuses to eat:

Slowly introduce new foods

When you are switching your cat’s food, you should be wary about your tactics to ensure that you do not accidentally lead them to lose their appetite or give them a stomach ache. This is why it’s essential that you slowly introduce new foods into their diet.

Some pets are able to transition to needed foods within a meal; other pets require more time. Take things slowly and provide your new kitten with enough time to get acclimated to their new diet. 

Warm their food

In addition, you might find that taking steps to make their food more appealing, such as warming their food, is helpful. Kittens often feel that cold foods do not have a satisfactory odor and would much rather eat warmer food.

You do not need to heat your cat’s food up for a long period of time, just enough to make the food more appetizing to your reluctant pet.  

Clean or move their bowl

Next, if you believe that the reason that your cat is not eating their food is because of the location or cleanliness of the bowl, there are simple steps that you can take to help your kitten get their appetite back. 

First, you should clean out their bowl. As cats are extremely mindful of cleanliness, a clean bowl will make your kitten’s food significantly more appealing to them. In addition, you can move your pet’s bowl to an alternative location. They may feel uncomfortable eating where it currently is.

Be sure that there is enough distance between your new kitten’s bowl and any other animals in the house. You can even select different rooms for meals or different meal times if the location in relation to other pets is leading to distress for the new kitten. 

Pick a new bowl

Sometimes, an entirely new bowl will be necessary. If this is the case, be sure that you are mindful about taking care of the new bowl that you give your cat. Clean it throughout before you put any food in it to ensure that it is freshly washed.

In addition, some kittens might prefer “feeder” style bowls. You can experiment with this and see what your new kitten likes better. Keep their small and growing sizes in mind so that their bowl is always an appropriate size they can easily reach. 

Keep other pets away during feeding times

As mentioned, a large reason why your pet might be struggling during feeding time is that they are experiencing anxiety due to other pets when they are supposed to be eating.

You should keep your pets away from each other when they are eating, and additionally, feed the pets in different spaces. You should be mindful about where their bowls are in relation to each other, too.

It’s no secret that dogs are drawn to cat food, mainly due to the higher protein content necessary for proper feline nutrition. This may cause your dog to go searching for a meal that doesn’t belong to them. 

When should I worry about my kitten not eating?

Because kittens are young and vulnerable, it’s important that you are mindful of the amount of time your new kitten has gone without eating. If it has been more than 24 hours and your new pet is still not interested in their food, speaking with a trusted veterinarian is always a good idea. Watch out for troubling symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea

Pawp veterinarian Dr. Laura Robinson agrees, adding, “A new kitten needs to get calories daily; when they are tiny their blood sugar can drop rapidly. If they are not eating for a day, then I would take them to your veterinarian where they can check them for diseases and parasites.” 

Eating well and staying healthy

Having a new kitten is wonderful for so many reasons, but it can also be stressful. 

Luckily, Pawp is available to answer any questions you might have about taking care of your new pet. Their expert veterinarians are there to advise on everything from kitten feedings, canine behavioral issues, and more. 


Feeding Your Cat | Cornell  

Choosing the best diet for your kitten | Texas A & M  

How do I switch my pet's food? | Tufts’ Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School  

The Inappetence Hospitalised Cat: clinical approach to maximising nutritional support | NIH  

How Often Should You Feed Your Cat? | Cornell  

Feline Behavior Problems: House Soiling | Cornell  

Post-weaning Feeding Problems in Young Domestic Cats - A New Hypothesis | PSU  

Diarrhea in Kittens | NIH  

Managing Multi-pet Mealtimes | Tufts’ Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School 

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