If there is a partial blockage, swallowing can be difficult and painful, but the cat does not necessarily regurgitate. A cat with a painful esophagus makes repeated attempts to swallow the same mouthful and eats slowly. There may be noticeable weight loss, and as the condition becomes more painful, the cat may stop eating altogether.
Painful swallowing can be associated with mouth infections, dental infections, sore throat, or tonsillitis. Cats with these conditions also often have drooling and halitosis. Sometimes, the cat can eat softened or liquid foods but not hard or dry foods. Some cats will lick the “gravy” off canned foods but not eat the chunks.