Cats are known to be finicky and picky about a lot of things. Their pickiness in terms of toys and activities is fine and completely natural; if it extends to their eating, things could get a little concerning. If your cat is a picky eater, you can try a few remedies such as serving them different food items. If they still turn away from the food served, you should consult a vet. However, before drawing any conclusions, it is necessary to understand that it is in a cat’s nature to be fussy. And while your feline friend may be stubborn initially, they tend to adapt to a set routine eventually. So, here is a brief guide to help you better understand your cat’s pickiness about food.
Why is my cat not eating?
There are certain reasons why your cat turns from the food served. This behaviour may not necessarily indicate that your cat is a finicky eater.
- Lack of appetite
If your cat is refusing to eat food served to them, it is possible that they are not hungry. Some possible reasons for this could be that they have been munching throughout the day and have had a lot of treats. If your cat does roam around outdoors by themselves, it is entirely possible that they switched to their hunting instincts and caught prey.
If you notice your cat has not eaten in more than 24 hours, it might be a sign of an underlying weakness and it is best to consult a vet in this matter.
Despite being finicky, cats are creatures who thrive on routine. So, when it comes to their daily feeding, it is best to establish a routine and stick to it. If your cat is not served meals at regular times, they may refuse to eat.
- Soiled serving plate
If you have not cleaned your cat’s serving plate before pouring in their food, they may not enjoy the meal. Cats may refuse to eat out of a soiled bowl or plate, so ensure that your pet’s serving dish is always clean.
- Too much attention
A lot of cats tend to enjoy eating alone. They do not like consuming meals in the presence of others or being the centre of attention during meal times.
- Stress due to sudden changes
If your cat starts eating less, you may want to look for a factor that could be causing stress. Has another animal been added to the household? Has a family member left or died? Have the cat's surroundings changed, such as a move to a new house? When the stress is removed, your cat will probably go back to a normal diet. If your cat seems healthy, happy, and lively, and has a good coat and clear eyes, there is little cause for concern. Cats also have an uncanny ability to smell changes in the world around them. Even a new bowl can disturb a cat's eating habits. Some cats refuse to eat from plastic or hard rubber bowls.
- Medical factors
Medical factors also could contribute to a change in your cat’s eating habits. The only way to verify this is to visit a veterinarian. If the medical examination does not verify that a problem exists, your cat may be manipulating you in grand style!
My cat is a very picky eater. What are some feeding tips I should try?
If your cat is a picky eater and it’s tough to get them to finish a meal, here are some tips you could try:
Heat wet food before serving
Cats have a strong sense of smell and enjoy food by its aroma. If the wet food you served them has gone cold, it may not give off the aroma that cats love. So, heating the meal a little may help.
Clean the serving dish/bowl
Since cats have a strong sense of smell, they will know if their serving bowl is unclean. If so, it can quickly kill their appetite and they may turn away from the food. So, ensure that you always serve meals to your cat in a clean dish/bowl.
Add chicken broth/tuna water/cat oil to their food
Try to entice your cat to eat food by adding a little amount of warm chicken broth, tuna water, or cat oil to the meal. This will significantly improve the smell of the food for the cats. However, do be sure to never serve anything containing onions, chives, or garlic, as these ingredients can be harmful to a cat.
Try different foods
If your cat is still refusing to eat, it may be time to change the food. You may have to try a different product and hope your pet likes the new one.
- Consult your vet
If despite trying everything your cat still won’t eat, it is time to consult your vet. Also, if your cat has gone more than 24 hours without eating anything, you should visit the vet immediately as your pet could be ill.
- Make slow changes
If your cat is set on a routine that needs to be changed, make the change slowly and gradually. Your cat may not like a sudden switch in things and can continue to refuse to eat. If you wish to switch your fur baby over to different food, start off by mixing a little quantity of the new food with their current food, over the span of a few days. Gradually, increase the quantity of the new food item until it is the only thing being served.
Switching to a new cat food can be tough. IAMS™ recognises that caring cat owners want to have the option of feeding their pet a more varied diet. IAMS cat foods offer a number of nutritional choices for your cat, including dry and canned foods, naturally preserved diets, and options for overweight cats or cats with reduced activity levels. All IAMS™ cat foods are complete and balanced for specific lifestyles and life stages. Consult your veterinarian or a Pet Professional at The IAMS Company to discuss the best selection for your cat.
What every cat needs
Here are some more things you need to keep in mind as a cat parent.
- Regardless of which food you choose to feed, your cat must have plenty of fresh, clean water available at all times. We suggest placing the water 3 to 5 feet from the food to help prevent your cat from gulping water and air in addition to food.
Make sure that your cat has a quiet, comfortable place to eat.
And remember, your cat needs to visit the veterinarian regularly. Regular visits help keep your cat happy and healthy!
Frequently asked questions
- What do I do if my cat is a picky eater?
- If your cat is a picky eater, you can try a few things such as heating the wet food slightly before serving, giving them space to eat, and serving food in a clean dish or bowl. If your cat still won’t eat, you will have to choose a different food that they ultimately like.
- What do you feed a cat that refuses to eat?
- The answer to this question can vary based on what is causing the cat to stop eating. While some cats may be willing to give in to their hunger, others may not and choose to starve themselves. If your cat has not eaten for an entire day, it is best to consult a vet.
- What stimulates a cat's appetite?
- The biggest stimulant to a cat’s appetite is the aroma of the food. If the food you serve them has a smell they like (such as that of chicken, fish, etc.) their hunger will quickly kick in.