Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tips on Getting Your Cat to Eat

Kitty Smorgasbord

Until the cat is stable, your pawrents may have to resign themselves to having a "kitty smorgasbord" available for a while. This means your pawrents have a selection of foods for your cat to choose from, which you rotate to suit your cat's current preferences. 

Cat might eat one of the foods one day, then refuse it the next. Sometimes pawrents would offer cat five or six foods before pawrents found one cat would eat. Then a week or so later, a food cat had previously turned down might be back in favour.

Pawrents might found that cat might refuse a food in the kitchen but be prepared to eat the same plateful of food in the lounge. Or cat might eat the food if pawrents moved it back into the middle of the plate. The plate mattered too: cat seemed not to like plastic plates but preferred china.

In our experience, cats who are off their food tend to prefer pâté-type foods to more lumpy foods; often with lumpy foods cats merely lick off the gravy.

If pawrents can persuade your cat to eat of his/her own accord, it is usually much less stressful for both of you; but you may also need to use some of the following tips.

Feeding Little and Often

Try to offer your cat small amounts of fresh food at regular intervals, if necessary taking the food direct to your cat (we used to have a rule that cats eat in the kitchen but that soon went out the window once we were faced with a sick cat). Just offer a spoonful at a time. If your cat eats it, offer a little more.

If you also have the time to offer food frequently, you can find that although your cat only eats a little each time, over the course of a day it can add up to a reasonable food intake. You may also find that this reduces the build up of stomach acid in your cat.

If you are out at work all day, you could try using a timed automated feeder which opens two separate compartments at times of your choosing so that your cat can have access to fresh canned food. These are also useful at night. 

Warming Food

Many cats, do not like food fresh from the refrigerator - it seems to be too cold for them. Try taking the food out of the fridge half an hour before feeding it. 

Alternatively, you can try actually warming your cat's food. The sense of smell (and sometimes of taste) in human renal patients is impaired, and it is thought that this happens to sick cats too. Warming the food makes it smell stronger, which may filter through to the cat and encourage him/her to eat. 

Or microwave the food on a plate for about 4-5 seconds on High, but your oven may vary. If you use the microwave, stir it thoroughly afterwards and make sure it is not too hot - food cooked in the microwave may cook unevenly and contain "hot spots" which could burn your cat if you are not careful.

We have also tried warming the food by adding hot water - again, be sure it is not too hot. Some cats prefer the mushy texture of food that is watered down.

The Feline Advisory Bureau mentions that cats tend to prefer food at a temperature of around 35° C, which happens to be the same temperature as freshly killed prey.

Raising the Food Bowl

Some cats suffer from stomach acid if they have to eat from a bowl on the floor. Raise the bowl will help them eat better

Tempting Extras

You can sprinkle some treats on your cat's food in order to make it more tempting for your cat. 


In fact may act as an appetite stimulant in some cats. However, not all cats react to catnip - this is a genetic trait.

Cats International has some information on catnip.
The Feline Advisory Bureau also has information on catnip.


HubbleSpacePaws said...

Yes! Good ideas, all!

We warm food for our queens and anyone who is sick. You're right - you need to be careful so we alway stir the food after it is warmed in the microwave to avoid hot spots.

Lui said...

This is such a helpful site, MrPuddy!
Thanks for putting it up and helping cats like our friend Cinders. Too bad I don't have a cat now although I feed the strays on our roof!

I have senior dogs and sometimes they do get picky and moody eaters. Do you know of sites like that too?