What to Feed a Cat That Won't Eat

Cats can be finicky and difficult at times when it comes to their food. If they don’t prefer the type of food you are feeding them or if there is something else in the home making them feel stressed, you might find yourself trying to cajole your kitty out of a hunger strike. If your cat completely misses more than two meals, it’s time to call the veterinarian, because a sudden loss of appetite can stem from dental pain, a urinary problem, a bowel obstruction, and other serious issues. If your feline friend is simply being picky about her food, however, you can try offering her some delicacies that she won’t be able to pass up.

Purchase Wet Cat Food

If you currently buy your cat dry food, switching to canned or fresh food might stimulate her appetite. One reason is that these foods tend to smell a bit more pungent and will often tempt a cat to chow down. If you buy canned food already, offer something smellier, like a food with a seafood or fish flavor. If you want to give fresh cat food a try, consider signing up for NomNomNow, a service that delivers fresh and delicious cat food directly to your door.

Try Baby Food

You probably wouldn’t think of meat baby food as the most palatable and delicious food out there, but your cat begs to differ. Many kitties will lap up stage 1 or stage 2 baby food even if they are feeling a bit under the weather or are avoiding their food for other reasons. One caveat: Check the ingredients list to be sure that it doesn’t contain any onion or onion powder, which is not safe for cats to eat.

Add Stinky or Tasty Ingredients

Add Stinky or Tasty Ingredients

Some cats who eat dry food won’t be willing to try canned or fresh food. They might, however, be interested if you add something smelly to their regular food. The liquid from a can of tuna fish is a tried-and-true favorite, but don’t do this too often because tuna fish has a lot of salt, which is not good for your furry friend. You can also sprinkle grated or finely shredded cheese onto the food to make your kitty sit up and take notice. Finely diced cooked chicken breast or a piece of chopped or shredded turkey from the deli is another special treat.

Feed Your Cat Differently

Feed Your Cat Differently

While cats are creatures of habit, they might be interested in eating if you feed them in a different way. Consider a cat-friendly puzzle toy that allows you to hide cat food (usually kibble) for them to scavenge. If you normally feed your cat treats by hand, you could also try feeding her regular cat food by hand. She might simply accept it because she’s already in the habit of enjoying treats that way.

Another trick is to warm up the food slightly. Cat food is enticing to cats because it has a strong smell, and heating the food a bit can enhance that effect. You will want to make sure it’s only slightly warm. If you use the microwave for a few seconds, stir the food well so there are no hot spots. You can also heat the food the way you would heat a baby’s bottle: Place it in a narrow container inside a cup of hot tap water. The heat from the water will go through the walls of the narrow container, warming the food.

Finally, consider changing your cat’s dish. The current dish might be harboring a smell, even if you wash it regularly. Or your cat’s whiskers might touch the side of the bowl, which some kitties find disconcerting. You can even feed her on a paper plate to see if that is the issue.

Getting to the bottom of picky eating can be frustrating, but some perseverance will probably get your cat eating again. If you don’t have any luck, contact your veterinarian.

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