I just adopted an adult cat three days ago from a shelter. They didn't know how old she was because she came in as a stray. If I had to guess she is 3-5 years old.

When we offer her food she won't eat it. We have tried a few kinds of wet food but in the last three days she has eaten maybe a total of one can of food. When we open a can she will run up and take two bites then so purring and walk away. She won't even eat treats or lunch meat. She has also thrown up twice but both times seem to have been in reaction to beef.

Do I just need to keep trying different kinds of food for her? Is this just a nervous reaction to a new environment? (She seems pretty calm and happy). At what point should I be worried?

  • You should contact the shelter immediately, the cat may need to be seen by their vet. Related Questions How often should cats eat? & How long can a healthy cat go without food? Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 15:21
  • Some cats prefer dry food. You may have better luck with that.
    – mhwombat
    Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 16:44
  • Did you ask the shelter what she ate while there? Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 3:25
  • Visit a vet ASAP, that first. Try to serve fresh chicken or steak, probably sliced, for every cat i had it worked as last resort. There are also ways to feed permanently fresh meat but it takes some effort.
    – Aurigae
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 5:55

1 Answer 1


It's a good idea to bring new pets straight to the vet in general. It may have been seen by a vet at the shelter already, but it's helpful for your vet at the least to have a record of what's healthy for your cat, and also it's possible for the cat to pick things up at the shelter, as it has many cats in close proximity. So take it to the vet and tell them you're concerned the cat has not been eating.

However, there are also cats that are very picky, or like to slowly "graze" on their food throughout the day. I suspect your cat is a "grazer" since "grazers" will often be interested when you first put new food down, and then nibble at it and wander off. In this case, keep trying foods to see if they seem to be particularly interested in one. Also, leave a constant supply out so your cat can nibble throughout the day.

Another trick is to get the cat's attention, pick the food bowl up, turn around so the cat cannot see the bowl, and then set it back down. Cats do not have object permanence, that is, the ability to understand that items out of view are still there, so when you take the bowl out of view, and then set it back down, the cat will think it's a new bowl, and it may then try nibbling at it some more.

  • Also consider calling the shelter and asking what brand of food they fed the cat. Buy that food and offer it to the cat. Then, over a week or so, you can gradually begin mixing in whatever food you prefer to feed the cat.
    – mhwombat
    Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 19:33

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