Feeding a Fussy Feline: Owner’s Manual

Feeding a Fussy Feline: Owner’s Manual

Food & Nutrition

You can bring your cat the world’s most lavish pet food, but you can’t make him eat it - that’s a lesson some cat owners learn the hard way. But what should you do if your feline friend frequently gives his dinner the cold shoulder? This article will explain why some cats are picky eaters, and what you can do about it.

Step 1: Make sure your cat is healthy

There’s a chance your cat’s refusal to eat has nothing to do with food, and you must learn to recognise the difference between a fussy kitty and one that’s feeling under the weather. It may be easy to get frustrated when dealing with a finicky feline, but in fact your cat is sending you important signals about his quality of life. This is especially true in older, chronically ill, and extremely sensitive cats.Some potential causes of inappetence include:

  • Gum disease or dental abscess
  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Cancer
  • Organ failure

It’s important to contact a vet as soon as you notice your cat’s eating habits have changed, as waiting too long could have devastating effects on his health. If your pet hasn’t eaten in 24 hours or more, it’s time to call for professional advice.

Step 2: Consider your cat’s feeding habits

Once you know that a health problem is not causing your cat to reject his food, think about some other factors that may influence his tastes. Are you guilty of slipping little morsels under the table at dinnertime? Doing so may not only cause your cat to pile on the pounds, but can also spoil his appetite for cat food. Cats need certain nutrients that cannot be found in table scraps alone. Resist the urge to let him splurge and offer only cat food.Unlike dogs, cats are pure carnivores and cannot survive very long without certain essential nutrients. If your cat’s diet consists mainly of treats, there is a good chance he is missing out on some crucial vitamins and fatty acids that can only be extracted by eating parts of other animals - and not those typically consumed by humans! As long as your pet is fed a complete cat food, or hunts, he should never have a problem with malnutrition – but make sure that your cat is eating more than just scraps. If you’re unsure whether your cat is consuming enough quality food, measure out his portions before and after every meal so you can see exactly how much of the right stuff he’s eating.Finally, think about the possibility that your cat could be getting food from another source. If he goes outside, someone else may be feeding him – or he could be stealing food from someone else’s bowl!

Step 3: Offer consistency

Switching to a new flavour or brand of food can lead to fastidious eating habits. A change in diet may wreak havoc on the feline digestive tract, not to mention disrupt your cat’s dietary routine. If your moggy has enjoyed chicken-flavoured biscuits for his whole life he may not respond well to a canned beef diet. Likewise, if you need to switch pet food brands, your cat won’t necessarily take to the unfamiliar textures and tastes. If a shift is essential, try slowly transitioning from one food to the other by mixing them until the old food can be completely phased out. Keep one characteristic (consistency, flavour, meat content, etc.) of his food the same so that you can better pinpoint what changes he is resistant to. Cats are sensitive to changes in their routine and lifestyle. If you have recently acquired a new pet or even a new home, help your cat re-establish familiarity by creating a daily pattern revolving around his food. Feed him in the same spot at the same time each day to help build his confidence.

Step 3: Use tricks to whet your cat’s appetite

A lot of a cat’s fussiness can be attributed to his food’s presentation, including where and how it’s fed. Consider the following tips:

  • Never offer your cat food straight from the refrigerator. Warmed food is reminiscent of a feline’s natural eating habits, and therefore more appealing.
  • Cats won’t eat food they cannot smell. Older cats have a diminished capacity to pick up on scents, so try to make their food extra fragrant by adding a tiny amount of warm fish oil or broth.
  • Makes sure your cat’s bowl is clean and easy to eat from. If it’s too deep, narrow, or low to the ground your cat may opt to skip dinner. Small plates make great alternatives to cat bowls.
  • Choose a ceramic or metal food dish, as plastic can give off unpleasant odours and cause skin irritation.
  • Catnip enhances appetite amongst other its many other benefits. Use as necessary.
  • Offer fresh food only. Some persnickety moggies will not eat day-old wet food or stale biscuit – then again, would you eat yesterday’s dinner if it had been left out all night?
  • Don’t offer too much food at once. Generally, cats are not turned on by a feast at every meal and may be daunted if portion-sizes are too big.
  • Consider where your cat’s food bowl is located in your house. Use your feline feng shui to find a nice quiet area far away from his litter tray to tempt him to eat.
  • Hand feed your cat to encourage him to take those first few bites. Try smearing a small amount of food on his paw or gums to lick off.
  • If you have multiple cats, feed them from separate bowls.
  • If you feed your cat biscuits, buy smaller quantities at a time as they may go stale with age.

Step 4: Buy a food that is tailored to choosy cats

There are pet foods on the market specially designed to appeal to fussy eaters. Veterinary surgeries use a special tinned food called A/D to tempt cats that are ill or stubborn with food, and you may wish to try offering small amounts to increase your cat’s appetite. Alternatively, try choosing a food with high meat and low cereal content, as it is similar to what your cat would eat in the wild.

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