Welcome to my new blog series; The Cattitude Diaries! Every Saturday (or should I say Caturday) I’ll be uploading a new blog post all about cat behaviour and answering common cat questions. Hopefully this series will be fun and informative and I hope you will learn something new!
I’m a self-confessed crazy cat lady and I’ve had cats all my life. I’ve read a lot of books about cat behaviour because I find them so interesting, and last year I even attended a cat expertise course. I’m not a vet or a qualified cat behaviour expert, I’m just a woman who was probably a cat in a past life, and I thought it would be nice to share some knowledge with you all.
With that said, let’s dive straight in with the topic for this week.
Food for thought
This week we’re looking at one of the most common cat queries I get asked about at work: The fussy eater.
It’s so frustrating isn’t it when your cat seems to turn their nose up at everything? You’ve tried it all from simple grocery brands to the best culinary experience that money can buy. You’ve tried wet food, dry kibble, a strange combination of the two and even fresh chicken breast! You’ve tried every flavour you can possibly think of from salmon to poultry, but ‘tuna chunks in succulent jelly’ just doesn’t seem to be hitting that sweet spot. At the end of the day you’re left staring at an empty bowl, wasted money and a hungry and disappointed cat.
But did you know that these issues might actually have nothing to do with the food at all? There are actually plenty of reasons that a cat might not show any interest in their food that has nothing to do with what is actually in the bowl!
Here are my top 5 reasons that a cat might not seem interested:
1. The Bowl.
That’s right, your cat might not be eating because they either don’t like the bowl you’ve given them, or they don’t like the placement of the bowl. For example, some cats don’t like to eat or drink from deep bowls because the edges of the bowl presses against their whiskers and this can be an uncomfortable sensation for them.
A common mistake that cat owners make is to put the feeding bowl, water bowl and the litter tray all together in the corner of the room. I understand that people do this to keep everything in one ‘cat corner’ instead of it spreading out across the room. But would you want to eat your dinner next to the toilet? It can really put a cat off, especially when their sense of smell is so much better than ours!
Cats are natural predators, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe from unexpected attacks from other animals. When a cat is eating from a bowl, they have their head down and their back turned, this makes them pretty vulnerable to attack. Yet most owners still push the bowl up against a cupboard or into the corner of the room. This doesn’t give the cat a clear view of the room and any other animals or people around them. Try putting the bowl somewhere up high where your cat can have a really good view and feel less vulnerable when eating.
2. The temperature of the food.
In the wild, cats will hunt for their prey, kill them and then eat them. This means that they are eating food that is at body temperature, which is quite warm! For some cats, eating dry, cold kibble or jelly is just completely unnatural and not appealing in the slightest. If this is the case, you can try slightly warming their food to see if this encourages them to eat.
3. The presence of other animals.
Feeding time in a household with more than one pet can be stressful. Cats have subtle ways of showing that they’re stressed, and us humans can easily miss these signals. If you have more than one cat or maybe a dog around at feeding time, this could be a reason why your cat doesn’t seem to be eating. They’re either afraid to eat because the others are there, or they’re being subtly blocked by the other animal to stop them getting any food.
4. They’re grazing.
Some cats are natural grazers and will only eat small amounts of food at a time but will eat quite often throughout the day. A lot of cat owners unfortunately miss this and when they see a bowl still full of biscuits, they assume the cat doesn’t like the food and they take it away and try something else. Watch your cat closely to see how they prefer to eat.
It’s worth noting as well that cats won’t eat as much during hot weather. Just like us, they can’t manage a big meal when they’re too warm!
5. They’ve learned how to get a better offer.
In my opinion, this is the number one reason why most cats don’t eat their food. This also applies to dogs.
Our pets are clever, and if you give them fresh chicken, tuna, salmon or any other treat when they don’t eat their normal food, they will quickly learn this. You’ve then created a bit of a monster. From then on, it doesn’t matter which kibble you buy, your cat will sniff it once, turn their nose up at it and give you sad eyes until you give in and give them some chicken. It’s a hard cycle to break, but you need to stop offering your cat a better alternative or they will never eat their food.
If you’ve read all of these points but they don’t seem to be helping then it’s probably time to look into new food options. It might also be worth taking your cat to a vet, because a cat that is refusing to eat might have dental problems and simply be trying to let you know that they’re in pain.
When looking for a new food, keep in mind that there are many aspects of a food that the cat doesn’t like, not just the flavour. Your cat might really love tuna-flavoured kibble, but maybe that last food had a strange kibble shape and your cat struggled to pick it up. Maybe he didn’t like the smell and that made it unappealing, or maybe the texture of the food just didn’t sit well with him. Don’t rule out a flavour just because your cat didn’t like one brand, there are loads more to choose from!
I hope you liked this first post and I hope you will come back next week for another post where I’ll be talking all about cats tails!