How To Feed A Fussy Cat
How to Feed a Fussy Cat
Are you worried about a cat that turns up its nose to food? Cats, like people, can be very finicky about what, when, and how they eat. In some cases, finicky eating may be a sign of illness in cats.You can feed a fussy cat by setting up an eating routine, optimizing the eating environment, and seeking professional help.
Setting Up an Eating Routine
Avoid free-feeding.Letting your cat nibble all day, or free-feeding, can cause it to gain weight. This can also turn them into a picky eater. Gradually stop or avoid free-feeding altogether if you notice your cat is a fussy eater.Instead of free-feeding, many vets recommend feeding your cat at specific mealtimes.
- Avoid giving your cat table scraps, which can also contribute to fussy eating habits.
Establish an eating schedule.Most cats get hungry after twelve hours of not eating. Place your cat on a regular schedule of two meals per day. This can ensure your cat is hungry enough to not turn down food.
- Be patient when switching your cat to a schedule. Changing a routine can confuse them and may initially cause them to continue being fussy.
- Recognize that some cats (and especially kittens) may need more frequent feedings. Consult the vet when establishing your cat’s eating schedule.
Let hunger prevail.Being really hungry can make your cat eat.At scheduled mealtimes, place the cat’s food in its favorite spot for 30 minutes. Then remove it, even if the cat hasn’t touched the food. Repeat this at the next mealtime. At some point, your cat should be too hungry to refuse its meal.
- Contact the vet if your cat doesn’t eat after 24 hours. This can signal a problem and cause a potentially fatal condition called fatty liver syndrome, which slows the liver’s processing of red blood cells.
Provide attention before mealtimes.Throwing your cat a ball or playing with a chase toy before they eat can stimulate their appetite. Try stroking or petting before mealtimes to calm your cat and get them ready to eat.
Mix up the food you provide.Feed your cat a mixture of canned wet food and dry food.This can broaden their culinary horizons and ensure they get plenty of nutrients and moisture in their diet.
Switch up the food.Cats may have preferences for wet or dry food. They can also be sensitive to the freshness and temperature of foods. If your cat is fussy, give it fresh food or switch to a new brand if this doesn’t work.
- Replace dry food if you’ve had it for a while. Dry food can absorb moisture, especially in warmer months. Avoid feeding your cat food out of the refrigerator, which can make the meal lose its aroma. If a cat can’t smell its food, it won’t eat the meal. Heating the food in the microwave until it is just warm to the touch can make it more appealing.
- Switch to a new type of food gradually if your cat doesn’t like what it currently eats, as a quick switch can cause digestive issue. Mix the new and old food together gradually over a period of 7 days, putting more of the new brand in each day. Eventually your cat will be eating the new food exclusively.
Optimizing Your Cat’s Eating Environment
Wash food dishes regularly.Cats are very particular about cleanliness, especially when it comes to their food dishes. Wash your cat’s food dishes after each meal. This can encourage your cat to eat and protect them from bacteria that grows on dirty dishes.
- Place dishes in the dishwasher or hand wash them with a mild dish detergent and warm or hot water. Rinse thoroughly to ensure there is no residue left that could upset your cat’s stomach.
- Feed your cat from a ceramic or stainless steel dish. Plastic bowls can absorb odors that keep your cat from wanting to eat.
Recognize your cat’s eating preferences.Cats are sensitive to their environments, and changes can cause finicky eating habits. Figuring out things such as when and where your cat likes to eat can contribute to a healthy mealtime routine. Ensuring your cat can eat out of its preferred bowl can also help.
- Give each cat in your home its own dish. Sharing bowls can make some cats fussy eaters.
Create a designated eating space.The location of your cat’s food dishes can contribute to their desire to eat. Place dishes in a space where other animals or humans can’t sneak up on them or trap them. Avoid setting dishes in areas where equipment such as motors or refrigerators can turn on and startle them. Keep your cat’s eating areas clear of obstacles such as the litter box, which may turn off some cats from eating. Ensuring your cat has a cozy eating space may decrease any fussiness over food.
- Move food dishes only if absolutely necessary. This can confuse cats and cause fussiness at mealtimes.
Seeking Professional Attention
Watch for potential health issues.Illness such as tooth abscesses and allergies can make a cat fussy about eating. Along with changes to your cat’s food, eating schedule and environment, observe signs that your cat’s fussiness is related to its health. Seek prompt veterinary care if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Favoring one side of their mouth when eating
Take your cat to the vet.If your cat doesn’t eat for 24 hours, seek immediate veterinary attention. Starvation can cause fatty liver syndrome in cats, which can be fatal. If your cat is exhibiting any other symptoms of illness along with being fussy about food, schedule an appointment with the vet as soon as you are able. Seeing a vet can ensure that your cat is healthy and simply being fussy. They can also give you tips on how to stop your cat’s finicky eating patterns.
- Let your vet know when the behavior began, what you’ve tried to get your cat to eat, and any other information that can help with a diagnosis. Answer any questions the vet has as honestly as possible.
Consider an animal behavioral therapist.Work with a pet trainer if the vet determines your cat’s fussiness is a behavioral issue. They can modify your cat’s eating behaviors through observation and training. They can also teach you how to understand and work with your cat to feed it. They can also prescribe medication if necessary.
- Ask your vet to recommend an animal behavioral therapist for your cat. Recognize that they may use different words to describe themselves including pet trainer, applied animal behaviorist, and veterinary behaviorist.
Video: The Real Reason Your Cat Is A Picky Eater
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