Cats are fussy by disposition, which also applies to feeding. It’s critical to keep your cat eating and enthusiastic about food time so they get all of the nutrients they need. A frequent question we get asked is what foods work best for finicky eaters? The truth is… there is no one solid option. There are many reasons cats choose to be picky. Let’s go over some of the reasons they might be rejecting mealtime and some tips that might help get your picky eater eating!
Why the Fuss?
When cats are still kittens, they tend to imprint on particular odors, forms, and textures as “food” or “not-food.” This is clearly a survival benefit for wild or feral cats that understand what’s a healthy meal, a deadly plant, or rotten meat. It can however, make it incredibly difficult if you don’t know what they have imprinted on as an owner. Noting the texture and consistence of the food they like can be a big tell for what is and is not working. Noting the proteins that you try can also help narrow down your choices too. There are a lot of different protein choices in the cat food industry so knowing which one your cat finds good or bad can be a daunting task.
Stress can also be a reason for your cat becoming picky. Stress can be a hard emotion for your cat to relay to you. If their situation or surroundings have not recently changed they could be sick and a visit to your vet may be in order. Sicknesses like: dental disease, upper respiratory infection, gastrointestinal illness, or loss of appetite due to a medication can all be reasons your little one won’t eat.
Tips to Help!
Start a Routine
By setting a feeding schedule, you can help your cat anticipate meals at a particular time of day as well as a regular and exact duration.
Switch Up Where They Eat
Place your cat’s food dish in a new area of the home or on a different level (like on a countertop). Make sure the food bowl is never too close to the litter box.
It’s easy to give into their adorable face, but giving your cat a lot of treats throughout the day can hinder their appetite and decrease motivation to eat their main meals since they know treats will come. Limit treats to one or two times a day at specific times.
Try a Meal Topper
Adding a topper to your cat’s bowl can make mealtime exciting and different every time. Adding freeze-dried raw or frozen raw toppers can boost the protein for your kitty carnivore. Trying wet toppers can also help stimulate the appetite. Bone broth and goats milk have their own added benefits on top of making kibble more palatable.
Rotate Food Brands or Proteins
Changing the kinds of meals and recipes you give your cat can keep mealtime fresh and new. There’s no problem with rotating through various diets and recipes as long as your cat doesn’t have any digestive difficulties owing to the transition.
Affection eaters are cats who seem to eat more when they have human company. They might simply want someone to sit with them while they eat, or they may enjoy being pet or require further encouragement to eat such as having meals brought close to them, hearing their kibble dish rattle, or even being spoon fed.
Pick up Un-Eaten Food
If food has been out for more than a few hours, pick it up. This is for both food safety and to nudge your cat to eat while the dish is still accessible.
Try a Different Food Bowl
It’s possible that your cat’s pickiness is due to the dish rather than the food itself. There are a variety of reasons why she may hate the dish. It could be too deep or shallow, it might have a texture that feels unpleasant on there tongue or mouth, or it might be made of a material that retains odors from prior meals. It may be as simple as switching from a plate to a bowl or vice versa. Test your food in a variety of plates, saucers, and bowls made of various (safe) materials such as ceramic, metal, or glass.
Talk with Your Vet
Always check with your veterinarian first if you notice that your cat is consistently lacking an appetite or not eating much food; there may be underlying medical problems to consider.
We know it can be frustrating dealing with a cat or kitten that won’t eat. Always know that Braxton’s is here to help you through the trial and error process and can give you great recommendations along your journey. We would love to hear from you if you have had a picky eater or currently do. Share in the comments what worked for you, and help your fellow picky cat owner.