Cats can be fussy eaters for a number of reasons, so try not to panic. In order to get to the bottom of things, you could first try offering food that they find irresistible, such as some warm chicken. This is not a suitable long-term feed, but it helps to establish whether they are just being a little picky or if there is an underlying issue.
Illness and dental problems can put cats off eating. It is important to rule this out as early as possible. If they have been off their food for more than two days or are displaying any other symptoms, such as rapid weight loss, then you must seek medical advice from your vet immediately. Your vet will run the necessary checks to ensure that your cat is in perfect health. Your vet or vet nurse will also be able to advise on hints and tips to try to get them to eat, which will then give you the confidence to trial some different feeding techniques.
Stress can often be a factor, and you may see a change in your pet’s eating habits during stressful times such as moving house or the arrival of a new baby. Cats in particular are extremely sensitive to change. Even something as subtle as moving furniture around can make them feel anxious. Try offering them a tasty treat or a hiding place where they can access their meals. Once tempted, they should happily tuck into their regular food. In any case, be sure to pay them plenty of attention and monitor their eating over the next couple of days.
Do your best to ensure that you are the only one feeding your pet. If you have an outdoor cat, it may be that your neighbours are feeding them too. Or are you or one of your family members giving your cat extra treats or scraps from the dinner table? It could be that your cat isn’t a fussy eater, and that they’re just full up! If your pet is overweight or obese it can cause numerous health problems. At our Community Vet Clinic you can book to see the vet nurse, who can assess your pet and create a personalised plan to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
Find out more about how to manage your pet's weight here.
Remember, if you are deeply concerned about your cat's eating habits, or if they have been off their food for more than two days, we would recommend a quick trip to the vets - a small price to pay for your peace of mind.
Nutritional advice and feeding tips
It is important to choose a high-quality, nutritionally complete diet. Check the packaging of your pet’s food. If it says ‘complete’, then it has been designed to meet all of your pet’s nutritional needs. Foods that say ‘complementary’ on the packaging are not nutritionally complete and we recommend only using these products as an occasional treat. If you are changing your cat’s food, try to make a gradual transition over a few days. Not only could a sudden change in diet cause an upset tummy, but some pets will not take to the new food unless it is introduced gradually.
Little and often
If your pet is a picky eater, it might be worth offering more frequent, smaller meals. Place the food down and leave it for 30 minutes. If it isn’t eaten, take it away. When it is time for the next meal, offer the food again and take it away after 30 minutes. Repeat this process over the course of a few days and don’t be tempted to offer treats between meals. Hopefully, your pet will learn that an alternative option is not going to be offered and that they will need to eat the food provided.
Should I give my cat vitamins?
There should be no need to offer supplementary vitamins unless specified by your vet. Provided that you are offering your cat a balanced diet, their nutritional needs should be covered. Offering your pet treats The key to a healthy lifestyle is balance, and cats can have treats occasionally but not frequently. You should never offer pets chocolate as this can be fatal for dogs and toxic for cats. If you would like to treat your cat this Easter, there are specially formulated pet chocolate substitutes available.