Many cat owners will often experience the fussy eating cats challenge, maybe from a cat that simply won’t eat his food, or just pick at it for a while then leave it. These ‘fussy’ eaters can be a problem, and at times are very worrying for the owner. However, there may just be a simple solution, and although it may take a little experimenting, more often than not you can find the answer fairly quickly in most cases. Having said that, today we will look at what tips, tricks, and advice you can try to get your fussy eater eating properly again.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE RESOLVING THE PROBLEM OF FUSSY EATING CATS
1. Is this caused through changes in routine or environment?
A cat that has been eating properly, but then turns finicky toward his food may be just caused by a change in his routine, as this can be perceived as a threat to the pet. In addition, a change in the environment can put them off their food too. Moreover, this is more typical of indoor cats, because they have got used to their surroundings, and even the smallest of change can make them fearful. If your cat has suddenly become a fussy eater, try to think what you have changed in his surrounding recently, like maybe a new piece of furniture, or maybe you have just decided to alter the room around without even considering the cat may see this as a threat.
2. Are you feeding them too much dry food?
Another reason a cat can become a fussy eater is that you may have been feeding him dry food for his mealtime diet, and although he has been fine up to now, he may just need a moist food. Many cats do fine on dry food, but it lacks moisture, so introducing a canned food that is moist may give him back his appetite, and it can be as simple as that at times. Many dry foods not only lack water content, but also the protein is usually plant based, and not animal based, and more often than not the carbohydrates are too high.
3. Do they prefer solitude at mealtimes?
Cats are often solitary animals, especially in the wild, and will often prefer to eat alone, so if you have introduced another cat, or puppy into the household this could be another reason he seems like he is off his food. Cats can even be extremely solitary eaters at times, and may not eat even if there is a human in the room, so you could try feeding him in a room where there are no other distractions, either animal or human to see if this works. It could even be something as simple as getting him a new bowl, as stated before changes in the environment can effect his eating habits, and it could be as simple as giving him his old bowl back.
4. Are they getting sufficient nourishment from external sources?
In the wild, cats can eat as many as 15, or more meals a day, this is because they are usually very small meals, like birds, or mice, and they are ready to eat whenever they spot a meal. If, your cat is let out during the day, or night at any time, he may have already eaten his share for the day, which could be why you think he is off his food, or just being fussy. Sometimes you have to just think like a cat. Therefore, when you let him out of the house, is he going for a bathroom break? Or is he going hunting? chances are he’s looking for prey.
5. Would a food dispenser help?
Another trick that often works well with cats is a cat dispenser, or foraging device, usually in the shape of a ball that you can put food inside. Moreover, they have to play with the device in order for food to dispense, this spreads their food over time while at the same time gives them mental stimulation. This is not only a trick way to get them to eat, but is also more healthy for them, because they have to play in order to get the food out of the container. There is a great range of cat food dispensers that you can view at this Amazon store.
6. Tried him on a short term fast?
There is no better stimulant for eating than hunger itself, so if you’re one of those cat owners who leaves food out all day, try putting him on a hunger strike for the day. After about 12hrs a cat will be hungry enough to eat almost anything you put down, but remember, a cat should not go more than 24hrs without eating. However, if you play with him for 20 minutes before you feed him, this should really work up his appetite as burning off energy can also stimulate hunger.
7. Trial and error tactics
For many fussy eating cats much of it is trial and error, because each cat is as individual as every human, and they each have their own habits, traits, and preferences too. Keep in mind, that some cats will be able to be enticed to eat using raw meat, while others will only be enticed by baby food or deli meats, but if you try these be sure to discard any uneaten raw meat after about 20 minutes due to bacteria buildup. Even though many cats are solitary, and will only eat alone, others may not eat unless someone is with them, some cats even prefer to be played with or petted before meals.
8. Other considerations
If you have more than one cat always use separate bowls and feed them, so they are out of sight of each other, and in a place where other animals, or cats can’t sneak up on them. Also, be sure to feed your cat away from any appliances, or machinery that can switch on and startle them, like a refrigerator kicking on, or a heating duct. Once you have your cat feeding in a specific area of the home, don’t move his bowl to another area as this can make him feel insecure, or even frightened and too scared to eat his food.
Finally, it is important for your cat to eat regularly, and if he is not then you need to find out why, whether it be that he just don’t like the new food you’re trying him out on, or you have changed something in the environment that doesn’t sit well with him.
- However, if he isn’t eating even after trying many, or all of the things here then he may just be ill or have an underlying medical condition. Either way, if your cat doesn’t eat for 24hrs or more, and you can’t seem to find the reason why, take him or her to the vet to have a thorough checkup, and explain what you have noticed with your cat over the last 24hrs, including any unusual behavior as well as the not eating, as there could be a medical underlying condition, which would require a vet’s attention instead of our tips, and tricks mentioned here today.
Your Feedback Matters to me!!! I can’t answer if you don’t ask!! Any Questions?? Use the comments section below and I will respond.
13 thoughts on “Fussy Eating Cats Challenge. Tips On Helpful Practical Advice”
Jim, I have this daily with my 2 cats…they go from eating anything you put down to refusing almost everything…I have to do the forced starvation routine, but then they play up really naughty sometimes so I give in…and give them some chicken or fish.
I have one cat who likes to eat alone and he has 2-3 places in the house he likes and he sits looking at you until you move the bowl to his current eating place of choice.
The other one, he doesn’t care, he will eat anywhere…
I feed them about 80% wet food and leave dry food out if I am not going to be around, they also have a drinking fountain, one likes it, the other hates it.
They both have their favourite treats too, one likes chicken and the other likes prawn and shrimps…I give them plain chicken 1-2 times a week and shrimps now n then…
Yes they can be real fussy…
Thanks for the read…
Some great feedback Neil which is very much appreciated. You will read in my comments below to another reader what we feed Oscar, our fussy cat. He also likes eating raw chicken but only the breast variety and can smell it a mile away! If we allowed him that is all that he would eat!
Great article James. I have 2 cats (and 4 dogs) one is 17 and the other is a kitten. They really aren’t fussy eaters but from time to time they don’t seem to be eating like they should. I am going to use some of your suggestions and see if that improves.
Thanks for the information. My two cats are pretty awesome. I do not have this problem with them. They both eat out of the same dish, and I have dry food all day long for them to eat. They seem to know the time, for the wet food, because my Greyson comes begging about 1/2 hr. before I give the wet food. Cats are awesome. Nice blog. I will be back.. 🙂
Thank you MarieAnne for those comments and pleased to hear you don’t have this problem. With Oscar, our outdoor cat, he is becoming very fussy about eating dry food these days and has a distinct preference for wet food. For breakfast we give him small bowls of both wet and dry food and at night time a small bowl of wet food. To prevent dental problems for him we persist in giving him the dry food even though he doesn’t like it and eventually he does eat it, albeit reluctantly!
I can’t ever remember one of my cats not eating, but maybe I was just unaware. plus they are usually in and outside cats so they could be munching on some mice outside.
You have many good points here, but I believe in the just let them go on a fast and then give their bowl back. It has always worked wonders for me!!
Great article thank you for sharing.
Nice to get this feedback Brent. That’s the problem with outdoor cats you just don’t know how much extra food they are getting whilst outdoors. Just keep a careful eye on your cat’s weight and cut back on food quantity if you note he is stacking on the weight.
Hey James, very interesting read. I have a cat whom has gained a significant amount of weight but who now also hates his dieting food. I started him on it a few days ago but he seems to hate it. Obviously he will lose weight but I certainly don’t want it to be this way lol. Any products you recommend or advice you can give?
You need to persevere Jordan. When he’s hungry he will eat the food you provide no matter how much he presently hates it!.
I never thought about my cat getting food from external sources. Now that you mention it, this seems so obvious. We have him outside about 4-5 hours a day when weather permits. Who knows how many critters he is eating. Thanks for sharing this, it is very informative. Please keep writing more articles.
Pleased to hear you are enjoying reading these articles Mike.
Hi Jim, Love this article on fussy eating cats and the tips you provide. I am presently owned by six wonderful felines. With that being said, I have to admit, I leave a bowl of dry food out for them on a daily basis. That is what they are used to. In fact, if that bowl goes empty for even a short period of time, they let me know. It isn’t anything new to come into the kitchen in the morning and have all six of them sitting on the table staring at me while voicing their dislike about having an empty bowl.
Although they all eat out of the same bowl, sometimes all at the same time, I provide them with canned food occasionally and have plenty of fresh water for them at all times.
I can’t recall where, but I have heard that fresh water is essential and using a metal or glass bowl is better for them than a plastic bowl but I love the idea of the playful interactive feeding bowl you mentioned in the post available at Amazon.
I have a rescued stray that loves to be outside more than in. He knows that he has to be in the house before dark though. All my free roaming cats have learned that very early on. I always tell them, “nothing good happens after dark and I want them to be safe” LOL. No one will ever convince that they don’t know what I am saying to them. They listen to me better than my kids do! Anyway about my little outdoors-man, I was concerned for some time about how little he eats when he comes in. I do believe you are correct about him eating the little critters he hunts outside. On occasion he has brought them home to mommy but mostly I find the feathers or bones laying around the yard. I had one free roamer that would only eat the heads off of the birds. Do you have any ideas about why that would be?
Hi Suzette. I can relate to what you said about stray cats as Oscar, our tomcat, was a former stray. He has breakfast in the morning and then we often don’t see him again until 5 in the afternoon when he come in to have his evening meal. Whilst he would love to be let out after he has had that meal we don’t allow this as we know we wouldn’t see him again until the morning!
One of our previous cats, Leo, would often leave headless rats on the lawn of our neighbor across the street. She was not amused when I told her that Leo had a liking to eating rats!