Cat Not Eating After An Enema? 9 Reasons Why

23 Min Read

You know the drill – one minute your furry friend is chowing down without a care, the next they turn their nose up at even their favorite treats. But when Ms. Fluffkins here stopped scarfing after a trip to the vet, even I was stumped.

See, Fluff’s always had a touchy tummy. More times than I can count, a little fiber or probiotics has done the trick when things get…backlogged, if you catch my drift. But this last time, she was more stopped up than traffic on the parkway during rush hour.

The vet suggested “a little assistance” to get things moving freely again. Only instead of racing to her bowl like usual, Fluffs just wanted ZZZs. For nearly two whole days she snubbed every bite, only sipping water between naps!

As any feline fanatic knows, this just wouldn’t fly for long. But try as I might with all her favorite flavours, Fluff turned up her nose at it all. What gives?! I was desperate to get my fluffball feeding freely again.

That’s why I’m sharing everything I learned about why cat not eating after an enema. By the end, you’ll know how to handle even the pickiest of pussies after their next vet visit. Your furry friend will be filling their belly in no time!

9 Reasons Why Cats Not Eating After An Enema

Here are 9 common reasons why cats may not eat after receiving an enema:

Loss of Appetite

For many cats, the experience of undergoing an enema procedure can be stressful and uncomfortable. Having fluids inserted into the rectum naturally causes some degree of distress. On top of this, the solution itself may feel cool or foreign to cats.

While necessary for certain medical issues like constipation, enemas disrupt a cat’s everyday routine in an unpleasant manner. Their instincts tell them to avoid potential sources of pain or irritation. This is why it’s common for cats to completely lose their appetite in the immediate aftermath.

Rather than associating mealtimes with comfort and joy, as is usual, the act of eating gets tied to the negative stimuli of the vet visit and enema in the cat’s mind. Their appetite shuts off as a defense mechanism. It can take some coaxing and comfort levels returning to normal before they feel safe to eat again.

Unpleasant Taste in the Mouth

Just like us humans, cats have a very good sense of taste. So when foreign fluids are introduced to the rectum during an enema procedure, it’s easy for some of that solution to end up in the mouth through self-grooming.

A cat’s natural instinct is to clean themselves after any unexpected changes to their usual sensations. But in the process, they can inadvertently ingest traces of the substances used. This often leaves an unpleasant, soapy taste behind.

The lingering flavor acts as a deterrent to eating. Why consume food when it means prolonging that yucky taste? Their motivation to eat shuts off until the tastebud memory fades.

As well, some cats may experience anal leakage of small amounts of the enema liquid for a short time after. Licking to clean the area transfers that flare back to their tastebuds, strengthening the negative association.

Thankfully the unpleasant taste is only temporary. With time and conscious efforts to groom less around the rectal area, it dissipates. But in the immediate aftermath, a mild distaste for all things consumable is perfectly normal.

Patience during this adjustment period is key to help coax appetite back smoothly. Their taste will normalize, allowing interested in food to resurface naturally.

Refusing Water or Food

Beyond just a lack of appetite, another common reaction post-enema is outright refusal to ingest anything at all – even essential fluids. This behavior often stems from distress or pain.

When dealing with the sensitivity and irritation down below, cats simply don’t want to aggravate it further. From their perspective, eating or drinking could trigger more discomfort through bowel movements. To protect the vulnerable area, complete fasting seems the safer route.

Dehydration is a real risk if this keeps up too long. Without adequate fluid intake, minor issues may spiral or serious problems like kidney damage could arise quickly.

It’s important for caregivers to respect their hesitance yet still encourage small acts of hydration. Keep fresh, appealing water near at all times. Syringe droplets of broth into the cheek pouches if needed. The goal here is harm prevention, not force-feeding when truly distraught.

With some time, rest, and TLC, stress levels slowly decrease. As pain receptors quiet down, natural urges reemerge on their own schedule. Our role then becomes creating an anxiety-free space to fulfill those needs.

Bloating and Gas

Another very common reason cats lose their appetite following an enema is trapped gas and bloating in the abdomen. This occurs because enemas introduce air into the intestinal tract that the body doesn’t always expel right away.

As gas builds up in the belly, it causes painful pressure and swelling. We’ve all felt queasy with a bloated stomach before – it’s no different for our feline friends. With internal discomfort competing for attention, eating becomes the last thing on their mind.

Their bodies may also temporarily lose normal digestive motility. This hampers the natural expulsion of any residual enema air through flatulence or defecation. Instead, it festers inside and worsens the pressure load.

To help alleviate these symptoms, caregivers should provide a warm, draft-free area for rest. Gentle belly massages may also relieve gas. Critically, avoid forcing food to avoid further strain.

As the trapped air beings dissipating over 12-24 hours, appetite usually returns. But patience is key during this adjustment phase to avoid unnecessary distress. With time and TLC, bellies will settle allowing hunger to take priority.

Difficulty Breathing

In rare cases, some cats experience difficulty breathing after an enema procedure. While alarming, this complication represents a very small subset. However, as guardians it is important to be aware of this potential reaction.

Difficulty breathing could indicate issues arising from anesthesia used during the enema. Some cats may experience respiratory irritation or swelling from certain disinfecting or lubricating substances in low doses.

While the breathing issues themselves deter eating through discomfort, it is a symptom demanding vet attention. Delayed care could result in further medical problems like respiratory distress or infections.

If after the procedure, your cat appears labored, is panting, coughing or wheezing, seek medical evaluation without delay. The vet needs to examine, monitor and implement any treatments like supplemental oxygen immediately.

Reacting fast helps prevent progression to an emergent state and get to the root cause. Typically breathingNormalizes within hours when caught early. This then allows appetite and health to recover without issue under guidance.

Blocked Stomach

A rare but concerning reaction some cats have to enemas is delayed stomach emptying, or gastric ileus. When intestinal motility slows as the bowel recovers, food/fluids can get “backed up” into the stomach.

This blocking prevents new ingesta from properly entering the small intestine for processing. It also stops emptying of previous meals, making the stomach overloaded and distended.

As the organ stretches unnaturally, it puts pressure on other abdominal structures and causes pain. With such discomfort competing for attention, appetite flees.

Cats with this issue tend to also vomit repeatedly as the stomach tries pushing contents back up and out. Dehydration is another risk from not keeping anything down.

Should your cat demonstrate all symptoms like refusing food/water plus vomiting, seek immediate vet help. They can do X-rays to assess the block and implement therapies to restart motility asap.

With prompt care, mobility usually resumes within a day allowing the stomach to normalize. Diet changes following may be temporary until things settle fully. The priority is relieving distress to rekindle eating.

Accidental Ingestion of Enema Materials

Another possible cause of post-enema appetite loss is cats accidentally consuming traces of cleansing materials from the procedure.

As they groom themselves clean like normal afterwards, it’s easy for some disinfecting or lubricating fluid to get transfers via self-licking. This introduces foreign tastes and textures into the belly.

Then there’s the risk of licking enema residues from the fur or skin around the anal area as well. Even tiny amounts of contacting the mouth can transfer.

While perfectly safe in regulated medical doses, these solutions provide a novel and unnatural experience for cats when unintentionally sampled. Their bodie’s natural instincts say to avoid such unfamiliar compounds.

Shutting off eating forestalls any more substances being consumed until the system clears out fully. This avoids further experimenting that may induce nausea.

Thankfully such accidental ingestion represents a brief, temporary setback. With time and focused grooming away from sensitive spots, appetite bounces back smoothly once the belly biome restores normalcy.

Underlying Constipation

Even though the entire goal of an enema is relieving constipation in our feline friends, it’s not uncommon for some residual slow-gut feelings to linger in the hours afterward.

While most cats find relief right away, others battling chronic hard stool issues may still experience mild abdominal discomfort as their bowels complete the emptying process naturally over the next day.

This low-level grumbling serves as a nuisance enough to turn them off solid foods at first. Liquids alone allow nutrients with less internal rumbling under the relaxed surroundings of rest and recovery.

Additionally, some hydration is key to help soften and sweep away any leftover stool fragments through the system smoothly. Prescribing a gastroprotectant ensures no inflammation occurs either.

Usually within 24 hours, as the final stool clears, natural urges to eat fully return. In rare cases with extensive constipation histories, dietary or medical changes long term may be advised too. But short-term post-enema pickiness simply reflects self-care while healing finishes up.

Understanding how our furry friend experiences their insides can help patience and support win out till their tummy feels back to perfect working order again!

Excessive Drinking

It’s common for dehydration to set in after an enema, as the procedure itself flushes much of what’s in the digestive tract. While this is the intended effect, it comes with a side effect – excessive thirst.

When the body is low on fluids, it triggers intense water-drinking urges as a survival mechanism. Cats will hyper-focus on replenishing their tank at the expense of all else.

This excessive drinking behavior can sometimes deter eating initially. With a parched mouth demanding H2O constantly, they’re too preoccupied quenching that thirst to consider chow.

As a former vet tech, I’ve seen my share of dehydrated patients nearly inhale bowl after bowl while ignoring offered meals during rehydration. It’s like their brains forget about food until their fluid levels stabilize.

Usually in 24-48 hours, drinking habits regulate once normalised hydration is achieved. The urgent thirst signal subsides, allowing regular eating patterns to resume their place at the top of the priority list.

So if Fluffy is turning up her nose at kibble but polishing off water bowls like there’s no tomorrow, it’s likely just a temporary side effect of coming off a dry period post-enema. Stay patient – all will return to normal soon!

Treating the Underlying Cause

Now that we understand the most frequent reasons for appetite loss, the next important step is detecting and treating any underlying causal issues. This removes obstacles preventing normal eating to resume.

Checking for food allergies is wise by reviewing diet history for triggers. Simple food elimination trials overseen by your vet can shed light on sensitivities inflaming their gut. For dehydration, gauging skin tenting and monitoring urination frequency is key to gauging severity and fluid needs.

Exams may also unveil intestinal parasites compromising digestion that require deworming. Administering oral rehydration solution prescribed by the vet replaces electrolytes when depletion is suspected. For persistent symptoms, a brief pain reliever or anti-nausea medication could relieve discomfort masking hunger cues too.

Referral to your vet is advised if concerns like unexpected weight loss, changes in bowel habits or lethargy arise despite supportive care at home. Professional evaluation ensures no underlying medical issues are missed that enemas aimed to address in the first place.

With the right treatment individualized to the root cause/s, the body gets a helping hand resetting to normal operations smoothly. This then paves the way for appetite’s Grand Return!

Additional Tips

While getting to the root of any underlying issues, some additional supporting strategies at home can aid the resettlement process. Monitoring appetite closely through the critical first 48 hours helps identify improvement or stagnation early.

Offering small, bland, easily digestible meals frequently versus large portions may better pique interest as the gut settles. Some cats take comfort in hand-feeding until moods lift too. Ensuring access to water is key with high-water treats like freeze-dried minnows.

Keeping them confined to a small, comfortable space with their litter, bed and you helps reduce stimulation that could stress tender tummies. Continuing with guided hydration via syringe or dropper for reluctant drinkers prevents dehydration.

Additionally, some over-the-counter gut-soothe probiotic supplements can encourage healthy gut flora regrowth for enhanced digestion. But only give these under vet supervision based on their assessment.

Above all, remaining calm and patient is best-practice. Most of all, continue monitoring closely and alert your vet without delay if no improvement or new issues develop beyond the standard recovery window. Catching any underlying causes early leads to faster resolution of those pesky no-eating blues.

When to Seek Veterinary Help

While appetite typically returns within a day or two of an enema on its own, there are some key signs it’s time to consult your vet for additional guidance or treatment:

  • Not eating or drinking anything for over 24 hours. Dehydration and other issues like hypoglycemia could develop quickly without fluid/calories.
  • Showing lethargy, depression, change in litter habits or other unusually behaviors instead of their normal activity levels and routines. This may suggest discomfort, illness or injury.
  • Evidence of ongoing straining or inability to defecate despite the clearing procedure that was intended to relieve constipation. More investigations are warranted.
  • Vomiting persists beyond initial gags after surgery as the body settles. This presents a risk of further complications and dehydration.
  • Visible signs of abdominal pain like crying, localized tenderness or hiding. Post-procedural pain would need addressing.
  • Failure to gain appetite back with supportive home care and monitoring per your vet’s instructions within 2-3 days at most. Lingering issues require attention.
  • Any new lumps, bumps or wounds appearing near the rectal area. Post-care complications require attention.

Above all, if you notice anything abnormal or out of character, trust your instincts and give your vet a call. They want to help catch and treat any underlying problems early for the fastest recovery!

Frequently Asked Questions

I often receive common questions about appetite loss after enemas from both seasoned and new cat owners alike. Here are a few quick answers to some frequently asked queries:

How long is an appetite loss expected to last?

Typically 1-2 days as their gut adjusts. Beyond 3 days, it’s a good idea to contact your vet.

Is it normal for them to vomit after an enema?

Some initial vomiting is normal as the body reacts, but persistent/repeated vomiting requires vet attention.

What other side effects can happen?

Rarely, breathing issues, blockages or ingesting fluids are possible but quickly resolve with care. Contact your vet if concerned.

Will an enema hurt my cat?

When done properly by a vet, enemas are generally a safe, minor procedure. However, some discomfort during and after is expected as the colon empties.

How can I encourage eating/drinking at home?

See previous tips on small bland meals, hydration, rest. Offer favorite foods when ready but don’t force it to avoid stress.

Is it normal for my cat’s bottom to be dirty/bloody after an enema?

Some staining is common as the colon clears out impacted stool. But fresh blood or ongoing filth requires vet attention to check for irritation or injury.

Are there any risks with anesthesia used during enemas?

Procedures are closely monitored and modern anesthetics are very safe. However, rare side effects like breathing issues are possible due to underlying health conditions in some cats.

How long do I need to monitor my cat after going home?

Check on them every 4-6 hours for the first 24 hours to ensure normal eating, drinking and litter habits resume smoothly. After that, monitor twice daily until your vet OK’s a return to normal activity.

Is an enema painful for cats? What can I do to minimize distress?

Cats may feel brief discomfort during and some bloating/gas pains after as the colon empties. Ask your vet about pain medication options to keep your furry friend as comfortable as possible during recovery.


In closing, I hope this comprehensive dive into appetite loss post-enema has better equipped all you cat owners to recognize, understand and address this common issue. As we’ve covered, there are often physical reasons behind that picky eating beyond just finickiness!

The key takes are monitoring closely for 2 days max, addressing any possible causes with your vet promptly and providing TLC at home base. With patience and support, their hunger should resurface once their tummies settle back to baseline.

But if the discomfort lingers, it’s always best to seek advice from your vet to examine for treatable underlying issues. Making sure medical concerns our furry friends can’t voice are addressed leads to quicker recovery and keeps them comfortable.

With open communication between you, your vet and a little tender loving care, our feline friends can breeze through necessary procedures with minimal downtime. They’ll be back to bossing us around and purring for their next meals in no time!

Please remember I’m always here as a resource for pet care topics and to ease any worries. Feel free to reach back if ever unsure about symptoms or next steps. Wishing each cat and caring owner the very best of health!

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