My cat is a fussy eater

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If your cat is a fussy eater, then don’t worry, because they have a reputation for being extremely finicky. In truth, this behaviour is generally learned and not bred into them.

You may think your cat wants or requires variety in their diet but in actual fact, she will happily eat the same food everyday for all of her life provided it is a nutritious meal.

Slowly, slowly

What may seem like finicky eating may just be your cat taking her time. Many cats are nibblers and prefer to have a mouthful of food now and again. Just because she doesn’t eat the whole bowl right away doesn’t mean she doesn’t like the food.

My cat's not eating enough

Your cat may be avoiding her food because she’s getting extra treats somewhere else. If you treat your cat a lot or feed her scraps from the table, you need to stop. Your cat will complain for a while but eventually she’ll understand that the only food she’s going to get is from her bowl.

Try to make sure no one else is treating the cat – either in your household or in the neighbourhood. It only takes one person to change how your cat expects to get her food.

If you tried giving your kitten several different foods to see which she preferred, you may find that by the time she grows up. you have given her the impression that you’ll always do this. If you’re opening multiple cans of food and trying to coax your cat into eating something every meal, then your cat has got you trained.

Here’s a very effective way to train your cat to eat only what you want her to eat:

  • Put out the food you want your cat to eat for half an hour.
  • If she doesn’t eat it, take it away.
  • Repeat until she eats.

After a day or two of this your cat may start howling for extra treats. Don’t give in. Your cat isn’t starving; she’s just using her charms to get what she wants. You may have to put up with a couple weeks of complaining, but this treatment will soon put a stop to fussy eating.

Switching to a new food

If you’re changing your cat’s food you should do it gradually. Start by mixing a little of the new food with her regular food, gradually increasing the amount until only the new food is fed.

When to call the vet

If your cat suddenly becomes very finicky after not previously displaying that kind of behaviour, or appears to be losing weight you should talk to your vet. Sometimes behaviour that appears fussy can be caused by an underlying medical reason like a dental problem, a digestive upset or hairballs. 

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