Many of us have had a cat who has decided “I’m not gonna eat that!” It may be a new kind of food, it may be that the brand you have always fed has changed, or it may be a more concerning issue. Below are a few helpful tips when your cat won’t eat.
1. Make sure she isn’t sick
When cats refuse to eat, it can be a sign that she is sick or pain, especially if she continues to refuse food for more than one meal. Take your kitty to the vet to make sure she doesn’t need treatment if she consistently chooses not to eat.
2. Try other flavors or brands
If you are feeding a prescription diet, find out if it comes in other flavors. If your cat does not have specific dietary needs, try other brands that provide the same health benefits. Your cat might be reacting to a change in your usual brand, or may just need a change. Always check with your vet to make sure what you are feeding meets your cat’s nutritional needs.
3. Warm up the cat food
If you keep leftover cat food in the refrigerator, five to 10 seconds in the microwave will warm it up and make the smell attractive to your cat. If you don’t have a microwave, you can also mix a small amount of warm water into the food instead.
5. Keep feeding dishes and bowls clean
This is especially important if your cat eats canned or raw food. Germs can start growing in scraps of leftover food, potentially causing illness. Your cat might hate the smell of dirty, unclean dishes or food – cats instinctively avoid eating putrid-smelling meat. If you use plastic dishes, switch to metal or ceramic feeding dishes that are easier to keep clean and can be washed in the dishwasher.
6. Try a different cat dish
A cat might not eat simply because he dislikes his bowl. Some cats don’t like deep or narrow dishes that interfere with their wiskers. Flat-faced or brachycephalic cats such as Persians, Himalayans, and Exotic Shorthairs should not eat from plates or shallow bowls for health reasons.
7. Avoid hiding medications in your cat’s food
Some medications can have very strong flavors and odors that may make your cat reluctant to eat her food. Ask your vet before trying the powdered-pill-in-food trick, and consider finding strong smelling treats to hide medicines. You can also switch to liquid medications that can be “squirted” into the mouth easily with a syringe.
8. Variety is the spice of life
Cats have varied tastes and, when left to their own without human feeding, will often choose several different types of food. Just like us, some cats may get tired of eating the same thing day after day. Most cat food brands offer several flavors of cat food – try switching up flavors and serve a different flavor every day for a while to see if you can interest your cat in a more varied palette.
As always, if your cat skips meals consistently or avoids eating altogether, call your vet immediately to make sure she isn’t just being a “finicky feline” – she may be telling you something is wrong other than your menu.