My Cat Is Not Eating After Dental Surgery (What Should I Do?)

cat not eating after dental surgery

Has your cat recently undergone dental surgery and has not been eating much at all? Post-operative care for your cat can be a challenging and nerve-wracking experience, particularly when it refuses to eat.

What could be causing your cat to lose its appetite after the dental procedure?

Many cats refrain from eating after dental surgery due to tenderness and swelling in their mouths. This discomfort often makes chewing food a painful ordeal. These factors can cause many cats to lose their appetites during this period.

This comprehensive guide will delve into the reasons behind your cat’s lack of appetite, how to manage the pain and the best ways to encourage it to eat again.

What To Feed A Cat With Tooth Pain?

“The challenge is to make your cat’s food more palatable during this period.”

Once the dental procedure is over, you will be able to take your cat home after it has woken up from being sedated.

Your cat’s mouth won’t be in the best of shape for a few days. Its teeth and gums will be feeling very sore and tender.

The challenge is to make your cat’s food more palatable during this period.

Here are the best ways to do it.

Give Your Cat Soft Food

After my wisdom tooth operation, the last thing that I needed was something tough and hard to eat.

The same goes for your cat.

Its entire mouth is too tender for anything that involves too much chewing. So if you have always been feeding your cat dry food, it won’t work now.

Your kitty should eat wet cat food which is a much better choice for your cat during the recovery period.

Your cat needs soft food or cat food that doesn’t require much chewing.

Some cats enjoy eating baby food but make sure that you analyze the ingredient label to ensure that it’s safe for your cat.

Really mash up the wet cat food until it forms a paste before feeding your cat.

You can even add some water to the canned food and soften it up even further.

If your cat still insists on eating its dry food, add some warm water to it and mix the dry food to form a soft paste.

Make sure that the water isn’t too warm before serving or it can burn your cat’s mouth.

Make The Food Tastier

“Don’t feed your cat any raw tuna or any type of seafood for that matter.”

Eating is really going to be a chore for your cat even if it’s hungry.

Your job is to make the food so delicious that your cat will power through the discomfort and get some food down.

One way to really take your cat’s food up a notch is to add some tuna water to it.

Add some of the tuna water from a can of water-based tuna.

Or you can even boil some fresh tuna in water for a couple of minutes to extract the flavors for a delicious homemade tuna broth.

You can then add this tuna broth to your cat’s food to really try and whip up its appetite.

Cats taste their food through smell and not many can resist the ‘fishy’ smell of tuna. You can also use chicken or beef broth depending on your cat’s preference.

Don’t feed your cat any raw tuna or any type of seafood for that matter.

Raw seafood is harmful to cats as it contains an enzyme that can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B.

Feed The Pain Medications

I’m not a fan of feeding my cat too much medication. But in times like this, pain meds can really help your cat feel more comfortable and provide some relief from the pain.

Depending on the type of medication, it can be in the form of a pill or liquid.

If it is too difficult for you to pill your cat, crushing the pill and mixing it into your cat’s food can help.

Make sure to check with the vet if it’s fine to crush the pill before doing so.

The same goes for the liquid medication. I understand that many cat owners find it difficult to feed their cats liquid medication but it has to be done.

Make Your Own Cat Food

If your cat is being really difficult with its food, making your own cat food might work.

Other types of meat such as beef, lamb, duck or even rabbit can help entice your cat’s appetite.

You can ask the butcher to mince the meat to make it easier for your cat to chew.

Homemade baby food is also a good recipe to try on your cat if it doesn’t have much of an appetite.

Just make sure to not include any ingredients like garlic or onions that are very toxic to cats.

Hand Feeding Your Cat

Feeding your cat by hand is a great way of showing your love. Furthermore, it is easier for your cat to eat off your hand than from the bowl after having its teeth removed.

After my cat’s tooth distraction, he didn’t have much food over a few days and I was getting worried.

What really help him was when I just took some of his food, put it on my palm and placed it in front of his face.

He took a sniff of the food and started slowly eating.

I hand-fed my cat for a few more meals before he was good eating on his own again.

Give this a try, your cat might really take to it.

Try Some Human Food

“I rather my cat eat something not so healthy until its appetite returns than nothing at all.”

I wouldn’t recommend this unless you have tried all the above and your cat still isn’t eating. You can try feeding some human food to your cat to see if it eats.

The rule of thumb is to avoid food that is spicey, contains garlic or onion or anything grape related.

The point is to not replace your entire cat’s diet with human food but as treats throughout the day.

You can try feeding your cat some plain waffles or pancakes or fruits that are safe for cats.

I rather my cat eat something not so healthy until its appetite returns than nothing at all.

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Eating?

It can start to get dangerous if your cat has not eaten anything after 48 hours.

This can lead to a life-threatening condition called hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease.

When a cat doesn’t eat, its body starts using fat stores for energy. The cat’s liver will struggle to process this sudden influx of fat, leading to a build-up of fat in the liver cells.

This causes the liver to function at a less than optimal level.

Even if your cat is not eating, you need to try and get water in your cat’s body to ensure the proper functioning of its kidneys.

You can do this by syringing your cat with water.

I would strongly advise you to bring your cat back to the vet if it has not eaten anything for more than 48 hours.

The vet will most likely put your cat on a drip to replenish its nutrients and calories.

A more thorough check might be needed to make sure there are no complications from the dental surgery.

Why Is My Cat Acting Strange After Dental Surgery?

As cat parents, it can be very unnerving knowing that your cat is going through surgery.

If this is the first time for you and your cat, you can expect your cat to not be its normal self after the tooth extraction.

Under Anesthesia

cat uder anesthesia

The vet will have to put your cat under anesthesia in order to carry out the dental surgery.

Otherwise, there is no way for the medical team to do a proper job with your cat struggling to escape.

This will only cause more stress to your cat.

It takes a few hours for the anesthesia to wear off in your cat. Once home, you can expect your cat to be rather wobbly and uncoordinated with its movements.

Try to keep your cat isolated in a dark and comfortable room for now and let your cat recover. Your cat’s normal behavior should slowly return over the next 1-2 days.


After a cat tooth extraction, you can expect your poor feline friend to be in quite a lot of pain. It is a common reaction for your cat to be drooling because of the pain.

The vet would have prescribed some pain medications for you can to take that can help relieve some of the pain.

Buprenorphine is a common pain-relief medication that helps to relieve moderate to severe pain in pets after a surgical procedure.

One thing to note is that buprenorphine can cause insomnia in cats. These cats can be awake for more than 24 hours due to this side effect.

Be gentle when wiping the drool off your cat’s mouth as it might still be tender.

Meowing Loudly

Your cat is meowing loudly because of the pain and confusion from the anesthesia. I remember my cat walking around the house and crying out loudly.

It broke my heart to see him like this but I understand that it is part of the healing process.

Try giving your cat lots of attention and soothing assurance. Most cats will feel better if they know that their owners are there for support.

Pawing At Its Mouth

If there are sutures in your cat’s mouth, it would feel very uncomfortable for your cat. It will keep pawing at its mouth to try and remove the sutures.

The sutures used by the vet are dissolvable and will be gone on their own after a few days.

It will be good to have your cat wear a cone to prevent it from touching and agitating its own mouth.

How To Keep Your Cat’s Teeth And Gums Healthy?

brush cat teeth finger brush

As cat parents, it is our responsibility to keep our cat’s teeth and gums in good condition.

The only way to go about doing this is with regular brushing.

More than 90% of cats over the age of 4 years of age suffer from some form of dental disease. If your cat has an autoimmune disease such as FIV or FelV, that can cause dental problems even earlier.

My cat has FeLV and had most of his teeth removed at 4 years of age.

It starts off as plaque sticking to the surface of your cat’s teeth which then hardens into tartar. The bacteria present will start to eat into your cat’s gums and eventually its teeth.

The most common dental diseases are:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Tooth decay

Make it a point to start brushing your cat’s teeth as early as possible. The earlier you start, the easier it is as your cat gets older.

The best time to get your cat used to a good dental schedule is when it is still a kitten.

If you have an older cat, it is still possible but it will take more time and patience.

Most pet stores sell toothpaste and toothbrushes that are meant for pets. Do not use human-grade toothpaste as it contains an artificial sweetener called Xylitol.

Xylitol is very toxic to cats and can be deadly in severe cases.

Final Thoughts

It is normal for your cat to not eat much as well as not be its usual self after dental surgery or any other surgery for that matter.

Try your best to make your cat’s food as appetizing as possible without compromising too much on its nutritional value.

If your cat isn’t eating after 48 hours, give your vet a call to see if it warrants bringing your cat back for further checks.

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