Appetite Stimulant for Cats: Mirtazapine, Cyproheptadine, and Natural Cat Appetite Stimulants

cat eating - Mirtazapine is a popular appetite stimulant for cats

Is your cat not eating? You should be concerned. While pets can refuse to eat for various reasons, this habit is of particular concern for cats. According to WebMD, a cat that won’t eat at all faces the risk of a serious condition known as hepatic lipidosis. The condition often culminates in liver failure. A suitable appetite stimulant for cats can help boost your feline friend’s desire to eat. This article looks at some of the most common cat appetite stimulants.

Why Is My Cat Not Eating?

Loss of appetite in cats is often an indication of illnesses ranging from benign to serious, but it can as well be the result of psychological and emotional factors such as changes in her surroundings. Below is a brief overview of some of the possible reasons why your cat is not eating:


When sick, cats and other pets often lose their appetite. Your cat can suddenly stop eating over conditions and diseases such as:

  • Dental disease: Toothache and other oral problems such gum inflammation, cuts in the mouth, abscess, and oral rumors can make chewing painful and hard for a cat, leading to a loss of appetite.
  • Kidney failure. Cats with kidney failure often gets nauseated and lose their desire to eat.
  • Gastrointestinal tract infections and other problems. A loss of appetite in cats may be indicative of a problem in the GI tract that causes her nausea. Pancreatitis, parasites, foreign bodies in the intestinal tract (e.g. strings), colitis, and gastroenteritis are common underlying causes. A cat with gastrointestinal (GI) tract problems may also show symptoms such as throwing up, diarrhea, constipation, and weight loss. Take your cat to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.


It is not unheard of for cats to lose their appetite shortly after getting their routine vaccinations. This is usually a side-effect of the shots. The loss of appetite associated with vaccines is usually mild and short-lived; there is usually no need to use an appetite stimulant.

Unfamiliar Setting

Travel and relocation to a new house can have an impact on your cat’s emotional well-being, leading to a sudden loss of appetite. Using an appropriate appetite stimulant for cats may help. Some cats also develop motion sickness after air travel. This causes them nausea and a temporary lack of desire to eat.

Anxiety or depression

Is your cat not eating or drinking, yet no health issue can be identified? Chances are that anxiety or depression could be to blame. Cats can for example get distressed by arrival of a new pet e.g. dog, or even new people.

Change in Diet

If you recently introduced your cat to a new type of food or diet, it could be to blame for the sudden decline in appetite. Most cats get used to new diets or foods with time, but a cat appetite stimulant may help to stimulate your cat to eat.

Appetite Stimulant for Cats

Loss of appetite in cats present a potential dangerous situation. This is especially true if accompanied by weight loss. Loss of body proteins makes the liver less effective in, and overwhelmed to convert fat reserves into energy as required to keep cats that won’t eat enough functioning properly.

This then causes hepatic lipidosis which can then translate to liver failure. You should thus never ignore a cat’s lack of appetite. If it lasts more than one day, take your cat to your veterinarian right away.

Your veterinarian will determine the underlying cause of appetite’s decline in your cat and treat it accordingly. Along with treatment of the identified cause of the problem, your veterinarian may prescribe an appetite stimulant for cats.

Mirtazapine for Cats’ Appetite Stimulation

Mirtazapine is a commonly used cat appetite stimulant. It was originally developed for human use as an antidepressant but it has since been found to stimulate appetite and get rid of nausea when given to cats in small doses.

Mirtazapine is a drug of choice when it comes to appetite stimulant for cats with kidney disease (renal failure), stomach problems, and other conditions that cause nausea in cats and reduce the desire to eat.

A dosage of 1.88 mg or 3.75 mg is generally given to cats orally twice a week. Your veterinarian will determine the appropriate dose according to your cat’s weight.

Side Effects of Using Mirtazapine for Cats Appetite Stimulation

Among the side effects associated with using mirtazapine as an appetite stimulant for cats are restlessness, excess meowing, and agitation. Some cats may however get sleepy.

There is also the risk of a rare condition known as serotonin syndrome. This occurs when the blood levels of serotonin rises. It may happen when mirtazapine is used in an overdose or alongside other medications that contain serotonin. The symptoms usually clears when the drug clears from the bloodstream, usually in 2-3 days. They include increased heart and breathing rate, dilated pupils, tremors (involuntary shaking of head), fever, high blood pressure, and excessive meowing.

According to the, cats with liver or heart disease are at an especially high risk of exhibiting the side-effects of mirtazapine. The same is also true for cats currently on serotonin-containing medications. To avoid these side-effects, mirtazapine should not be used alongside and other antidepressant medications.

Cyproheptadine for Cats

Also known as Periactin, cyproheptadine is another commonly used appetite enhancer for cats. This human medication is intended for use as an antihistamines, but it may help cats that won’t eat by blocking serotonin in the brain. As a result, the “ailing” cat to increase the desire to eat.

Although effective as an appetite stimulant for cats, cyproheptadine can cause adverse side effects such as agitation and excessive meowing/howling. In some cats, it has the exact opposite effect; making them sleepy and lethargic. It is also possible for periactin to increase the heart and/or breathing rate as well as decreased urination, but these side-effects are observed less commonly.

To avoid adverse side-effects, cyproheptadine (periactin) should not be used for stimulation of appetite in cats with high blood pressure or on potassium supplements.

Should You Use Diazepam As A Cat Appetite Stimulant?

Diazepam, or Valium, has for a long time been used for treatment of anorexia in cats that has been persistent for more than 2 days. It has however been losing its popularity among veterinarians in the recent years. This is because it has since been found to cause liver damage in some cats. Mirtazapine and cyproheptadine are safer alternatives – when used in the right doses.

If the chosen appetite stimulant for cats fails to work, your veterinarian will usually resort to tube feeding your kitty. They may also decide to go for this option if your cat has not been eating for more than a few days to avoid hepatic lipidosis. This involves the use of E tubes to directly administer medications and canned foods.

Natural Appetite Stimulant for Cats

If going natural makes you tick, here are some of the best natural ways to stimulate your cat’s appetite.

NHV Yucca

NHV Yucca is widely marketed as a natural appetite stimulant for cats. Made from the roots of Yucca root, this herbal product is formulated for relief of muscle and joint pain (e.g. from arthritis in older dogs), but it is also touted to help stimulate appetite in cats that won’t eat.


If your feline friend doesn’t mind some catnip, you could have a natural appetite booster right there. All you have to do is sprinkle a small amount of dried catnip leaves on the floor. You could also stuff it into one of his toys.

The leave may just be the gift from nature for your ailing cat. This natural remedy for cat appetite may however have a negative effect on your kitty – some get lethargic when treated with catnip. It may also not at all have an effect on your cat. This is seen in a fifth of patients, so don’t be surprised if your kitty shows no improvement.

Entice Your Kitty with Fresh Smells

Cats have a very strong sense of smell. If your cat won’t eat her kibble, try introducing a new, strong-smelling food and who knows? She just may find the new food too irresistible. Wet foods are a good starting point. More specifically, you will want to throw in tuna, sardines, chicken, beef, or meat broth. You could for example mix these with your cat’s dry kibble.



  1. We have a cat named Max. He has cancer. It started in his lymphomas and is now in his abdomen. He will only way just a little and then stops. He has lost weight and is down to about 5.3lbs. I am worried that if he continues this way we will lose him. We probably will lose him but we want to do everything we can for him and say that we did everything we could for him. This might be a lost cause. My sister found him as a stray. He first lived with her and then with my mother and me. He is a good cat. He would always play with our other cat Frank. Please respond. Thank you.

    • I am using the Mirtazapine on my terminals ill cat, it helps but you may have to try feeding with a syringe to keep your baby alive.

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