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We’ve all been there, you put down an appetising meal of the food that your cat usually wolfs down and he takes one sniff, turns his nose up and walks away, casting backwards glances at you as if to say “WHY on earth would I eat THAT?!”
So you try another brand or flavour of food, and he loves it, only to go completely off it once you’ve spent a small fortune stocking up. If you’ve got cupboards full of all of your cat’s latest flavours of the day, then you’ve probably got a picky, finicky eater as a pet.
If your cat is a fussy eater, what could be causing it?
The first thing to rule out if your cat suddenly seems fussy about his food is an underlying health issue. Dental problems, stress and stomach issues can all cause your cat to go off his food, so it’s important to get him checked over by your local vet. Because a cat’s sense of smell is so important to his ability to taste, it may even be something as simple as a blocked nose.
Have you moved your cat’s food bowl recently? Cats prefer to eat in a private, peaceful spot, so if the area is too noisy, bright or busy it could be putting him off eating. The litter tray being too close could also be a problem; you wouldn’t want to eat next to the toilet, would you?
A cat’s natural feeding routine is little and often, so could it be that when he walks away from a full bowl of food he’s just not hungry enough to eat it all? Rather than feeding your cat one large meal a day, try smaller portions two or three times a day, and you might just find he’s not so fussy after all.
If the bowl is too deep or too narrow, your cat’s whiskers are likely to touch the side when he’s trying to eat, which is unpleasant for most cats. The material the bowl is made from matters as well; plastic bowls can scratch easily and catch bacteria, as well as being a common cause for feline chin acne, so metal or ceramic bowls are best. Don’t forget that a cat’s sense of smell is much more sensitive than ours, so it may be that he can still smell the washing up liquid you used when you washed his bowl. To avoid this sure you rinse his bowl thoroughly in hot water when you wash it.
Cats don’t have to taste food to know if they want to eat it, their sense of smell is so well-developed that one sniff tells them all they need to know. This natural instinct helps cats in the wild determine whether their food source is contaminated, without them having to risk eating something that’s bad.
A cat’s diet in the wild is extremely varied, and in the same way that we get bored eating the same dish every single day, cats can sometimes simply go off a certain food. If you think this might be the case, try gradually changing what you feed him.
If your cat is turning his nose up at food fresh from the fridge, it’s likely that the problem is the temperature. For the perfect temperature, think the body temperature of freshly killed prey, and you’re on the right track. If your cat’s food is too cold, try heating it up for a few seconds in the microwave, not only will this get the food to the right temperature, it will also increase the smell; great for your cat, although maybe not so great for you.
How to Deal With Your Cat’s Fussy Eating Habits
It’s important to try not to encourage bad eating habits in your cat. Cats are smart, if they learn that by turning their nose up at something then they might just get a morsel from your plate, then your cat is likely to do this more often, which isn’t good for him. As well as the tips mentioned above, try to vary your cat’s diet by offering a mixture of different flavours and textures so that he becomes used to different types of food. However, you should always make any dietary change gradually, as a complete change of diet can upset your cat’s delicate digestion.
Is your cat a fussy or finicky eater? What steps have you taken to encourage a renewed appetite?