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Is Your Cat a Finicky Eater?

We’ve also discussed cat feeding habits in several other posts, but we’ve all heard cats referred to as finicky eaters. You might even be living with one yourself. No matter what food you bring home from the store your cat just turns her nose up at it and gives you a look that says “is that the best you have to offer?” In reality though, finicky eaters are made and not born. Here are a few tips:

If your cat has developed a change in her appetite the first thing that should be done is to have her examined by the veterinarian to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical cause for the sudden change. If she has stopped eating altogether, a veterinary visit is of the utmost importance because if a cat goes more than a couple of days without eating she is at risk for developing hepatic lipidosis. This is a condition where fatty deposits accumulate in the liver and it’s a very serious problem.

Have You Changed Your Cat’s Food?

One of the most common reasons a cat develops finicky eating syndrome has to do with the cat parent making sudden changes in the food. While variety is very helpful in avoiding fixed food preferences, abrupt changes can be upsetting to the digestive system. It’s good to introduce different brands/flavors and rotate them but make sure you do a gradual transition each time you introduce an unfamiliar food. Gradually add a little of the new food into the current brand over the course of a few days. Once that food becomes familiar you can then include that in your meal rotation.

Feeding Your Cat Table Scraps

Another reason finicky eating syndrome can occur is due to the feeding of table scraps. Why in the world would kitty want to eat her bowl of boring cat food or dry kibble after sampling some delicious cooked chicken, cheese casserole or even a nibble of filet mignon? Supplementing your cat’s diet with rich foods with high taste appeal is a sure way to get her to turn her cute little nose up at her regular meal offering. What often happens at that point is that the cat parent starts incorporating some table scraps into the cat’s regular food in an attempt to get her to eat. This upsets the nutritional balance. And, because your cat is very smart, she quickly learns to simply eat around the cat food to get at the tasty table scraps.

Finicky eating can also be the result of the conditions surrounding the feeding station. If you merely add more food into an already dirty bowl it can discourage your cat from eating. Be sure to wash the food and water bowl daily. If you feed wet food to your cat, take the food up after a half hour so it doesn’t sit there drying out and turning to cement.

Stressful Kitty = Unhappy Kitty

Stress can also play a factor in finicky eating. Make sure the feeding station is a safe and secure place for your cat. In a multicat environment you may need to set up more than one feeding station if one cat overpowers another in an attempt to claim all the food. The feeding station needs to be a place where a cat feels secure. If she’s nervous or afraid of being ambushed by a companion cat, dog or even the children, it can affect her appetite.

Need More Help?

For more specifics on how to help a finicky eater, refer to any of Pam’s books, including Think Like a Cat.

Note: Information in this article is not meant as a medical diagnosis. If your cat is exhibiting a change in appetite, contact your veterinarian.

Books by Pam Johnson-Bennett