Is Your Cat a Finicky Eater?
20 May, 2013

Some cats love to eat and aren’t picky at all about what food is put in front of them.  And then there are other cats that are very finicky about what they eat and don’t like most food.  Or maybe your cat has suddenly shown less interest in his food and barely touches it.  If either is the case, there is probably a reason your cat suddenly has shown less interest and there are ways to get your feline friend to start eating again.

Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian

The first thing you should do if your cat has stopped eating for more than a day or so is to schedule and appointment with your veterinarian to make sure he or she is in good health. If your cat has always been a good eater and suddenly loses interest, this is something to be concerned about right away. If your cat has recently lost weight or is vomiting or has diarrhea, it’s time to make a visit to the veterinarian.   Your vet can then determine if this change is a health issue and treat your kitty accordingly.

Your cat might be finicky because you are giving him or her too many treats

Once you have ruled out health issues, you might need to rethink your cat’s treats and dietary habits. If you feed your cat extra treats (or human food) during the day that can be tastier and more interesting than his or her normal food, you could get a finicky cat over time.  And, some cats will simply hold out until they are given something that just tastes better than cat food.

Here is where you need to make some changes and stop reinforcing the bad behavior.  Human foods and excessive treats only cause weight gain and don’t provide balanced nutrition for your kitty.  Try switching to a well-balanced wet food that will fill your kitty up and not leave him or her craving treats.  There are many healthy canned and dry food on the market.  You can get a recommendation from your veterinarian or someone at your local pet store.

How to switch your cat to a new food

To switch your cat to a new food, start by putting your cat’s new food down for a half hour. If your kitty won’t touch it during that time, pick it up, and give your cat a small amount of her usual food or something you know your cat likes. Pick it up when she stops eating, walk away, and don’t leave any other food out where she can get it (no dry food left out during this process). Repeat this two or three times a day for a couple of days. Very often by the third day, your cat will be eating the new food.

If that doesn’t work, try putting a very small amount of your cat’s favorite food on top of the new food. The cat will smell and taste the familiar food and a tiny bit of the new and will then make the association that the new stuff is also food. You can also try warming the food and adding tuna juice during this phase.

If your cat won’t eat the offered food, try again later. If he just won’t eat, and as long as he’s in good health, you can probably wait things out a day and usually hunger will take over. This will help encourage your cat’s appetite for his new cat food and after a short time, your kitty will learn that this food is the only food he will be getting every day.

Be patient and give your cat some time to adjust

Your cat might be smarter than you think and has stopped eating only to get extra attention from you.  Try to stay out of the area where your cat eats and give him a quiet, safe place to eat alone, away from distractions or competition from other pets. Offer his food for a short period of time and then take it away. This will teach your cat to eat at certain regular times and will provide a comforting routine.

As always, be patient with your kitty.  If you try all of the above, your cat should be eating his new food at regular meal times.  Try praising your kitty and giving your cat lavish attention when he or she eats the right food at meal time.  And, of course, always give your cat plenty of water to keep her or him hydrated.

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