Cats are known for being a bit choosy about what they will and won’t do. And a little pickiness is fine when it comes to picking out toys and napping spots! But if your cat is or becomes extra-selective about what they’ll eat, it’s time to pay attention and perhaps talk to your vet. You and your vet know your cat best, so it’s always worth checking in if you think your cat isn’t eating enough and want their professional advice.
Start by paying close attention to what your cat is eating and how they behave. This information will help you, your household and your vet work together to make sure your cat is living and eating well.
Feeding Tips for the Truly Finicky Cat
Pay Attention to All the Cat Treats
Is your cat begging for table scraps or holding out on eating until you offer treats? Extras like these can be very disruptive to your cat’s appetite and diet. Think about them like snacks or desserts for you — tasty cravings that are easy to fill up on. A small portion may not seem like much, but it can make a big different for a cat-sized digestive system!
Try dialing back how much you treat your cat to tasty extras and see if their interest in the food bowl starts to return. Remember, it’s generally all right for cats to skip a few meals, but if they haven’t eaten for 24-36 hours it’s time to call the vet (even if they’ve continued drinking water).
Review Your Cat’s Food Routine
Humans often crave variety in their meals, but for cats, routine is king. It’s not likely they’d avoid their regular food out of boredom with it, but if you’ve recently changed the kind of food, the number of feedings or the times you feed your cat, they may be avoiding eating as a response.
It's a good idea to change your cat’s diet gradually (unless your vet advises otherwise). Pickiness can often be resolved by helping your cat adjust and get comfortable with their updated diet!
Help Your Cat Relax While Feeding
If your cat starts eating less, you may want to look for factors that could be causing stress. Seemingly unrelated changes to their environment can shift your cat’s stress levels enough to impact their interest in food. Has another animal or person joined or left the household? Has your cat been adapting to new surroundings due to a move or renovation? As the stress of that change begins to subside, your cat will probably go back to a normal diet.
Talk to your vet about good ideas for reducing your cat’s stress levels and share any concerns you have about their diet then too. You’re both on the same team, so work together to help your cat feel better!
Keep Their Bowls Clean
Cats have an uncanny ability to smell changes in the world around them. A dirty bowl can be as off-putting as a fresh bowl that was cleaned with a scented soap! A brand-new bowl means a new-bowl smell, and that could be enough to disturb a cat's eating habits. Some cats refuse to eat from a plastic or hard rubber bowl.
Check your cat’s feeding bowls to make sure they’re clean and familiar for your cat. And plan for the transition to a new bowl to take a little while; your cat needs time to get used to it.
Consider a New Food for Your Cat
Sometimes it makes sense to change your cat’s diet for their health and well-being. Pickiness can be one of many signs they might be ready for a change. All IAMS™ cat foods are complete and balanced to meet your cat’s nutritional needs, no matter their lifestyle and life stage. Talk to your vet about the right food for your cat and how their nutritional needs may be changing.
If You’re Ever Concerned, Talk to Your Vet
If the other factors here can’t account for your cat’s disinterest in food, there might be a medical factor causing the change. A visit to the vet is the only way to be sure, so make an appointment and share everything you know about the change in diet and any other symptoms you may have noticed.
Keep an eye on your cat and their food to monitor any changes in their eating or symptoms. Give your cat a quiet, comfortable place to eat, and continue to provide plenty of fresh, clean water. Staying on top of cats’ nutritional needs and feeding guidelines can feel like a lot, but your vet and your instincts as a pet parent are here to help!