My Cat is a Picky Eater: What Can I Do?
- by Chris Irwin
If you have ever, or currently own a cat, you will know this plight all too well. We have all been through the struggle of picking out food for your beloved floof, trying it out and they love it. Then as soon as you spend your months savings on buying a few bags; “Ew, mom. What is this” and the food is never touched again.
Cats are notorious for this, you are certainly not alone. Anyone with a cat will know the frustration of having them turn their nose up at the bowl of food just set in front of them. So, what can you do about a fussy cat, and moreover, how do you know if there might be more to this rejection to food at certain times? We took a look at the steps you can take to get your cat to start eating what you have given them, and when you should consider taking them to the vet.
Switch to New Food
If your cat suddenly stops eating the regular food, you may just have to look into changing up their cat food. The fact is that in the wild, cats are used to a varied diet, from small rodents to birds, they are solitary hunters which pick and choose their food.
Cats sometimes get tired of the texture and taste of their usual food and you might find that it is time to simply try something new. Dry cat food is always a good option to give to a picky cat, and you can experiment with kibble sizes, textures and flavors to try and get the combination right.
Many brands do offer sample sizes before you buy a full bag. But the fact is, the more premium the brand, the more likely the cat will not reject the bowl. Premium brands like Hills are scientifically researched to provide high-quality, nutritional food that your furry critter will most likely not turn their back to.
Introduce New Food Slowly
So, you have established that it could just be food fatigue, and you will need to change up the food, or even put them on a new diet. Every cat is different. Some might dive in without even noticing that you have gone to immense efforts to change their meal times. Others might be mortified at the fact that you are daring to mess with their favourite time of the day.
If this is the case, it could be worthwhile to slowly introduce the new food. You can slowly mix it in with the other dry kibbles, and slowly but surely exit their old food. You can also try a technique that seems to train a cat to eat what you want them to eat on a schedule.
- Put the food out for about 30 to 40 minutes;
- After this time, remove the food and place it in an air tight container;
- Place it out at a later stage for the same period of time;
- Keep repeating this until the cat gets used to being fed like this.
Mix Up the Food
There is an endless debate between wet food for cats and dry food, with some being strong advocates against either. The fact is that you should not forfeit dry food for a solely wet diet, unless directed by a vet. Kibbles like the scientifically formulated Hills food not only helps strengthen teeth and bones, but improves their coat and gives them the energy they need for the whole day.
If you are introducing a new dry food to your picky cat, you might just want to include some wet food in the dry kibbles to encourage them to eat the whole bowl. Some cats do prefer to eat their wet and dry food separately, but if they are refusing to look at the dry and polishing off the wet food, you might have to combine the two.
If this is still posing a problem, you might need to take the wet food away entirely and give the cat no choice but to eat the dry. Once they do, you can reward them with some wet food. You will see that they soon get into the habit of eating the dry food.
Stop Feeding them your Food
This is a common problem with picky cats. The fact is that you might have inadvertently caused the problem by giving them your delicious human food which they have gotten used to. And, we all know what cats are like when you take something they like away. Think Garfield...
It is highly advisable to simply not give your cat any form of your human food to begin with. Not only can this be somewhat dangerous for the cat, but bad habits are hard to break. If you really do want to give your cat a portion of your food, rather set it aside, and place it into their food bowl during their meal time. Here are some ideas of foods that are safe for cats to consume:
- Unseasoned cooked chicken pieces;
- Chicken or vegetable broth added to their dry food;
- Pieces of unseasoned fish added to their bowls.
The same goes with endless treats. Yes, these treats might be healthy, but their kibble food contains all the nutrients and vitamins your cat needs to thrive. Treating is also a form of learned behaviour. If the cat starts howling for a treat and you provide it, you are rewarding this behavior, so they become accustomed to it.
Do not remove treats and snack time completely, just don’t allow it to take over the normal feeding regime.
Take them to the Vet
If your cat is still not eating, despite your best efforts, and you start to notice a noticeable drop in weight, you will need to take your baby off to the vet. Cats do stop eating if they are ill or in pain, so monitor the situation carefully, and do not leave it for too long. Food is vital to help the cat heal from its plight, so make sure that in order to keep them healthy, that you keep an eye on the feeding habits.