Will Cats Starve Themselves Holding Out for Different Food?

by Susan Paretts, Demand Media Google
    Our feline friends need a gradual change to a new diet.

    Our feline friends need a gradual change to a new diet.

    Has your finicky feline recently turned her nose up at the cuisine you've been offering? While some kitties will eat anything you give them, others won't. Kitties can be very particular about what they like and could hold out for another type of food, quickly becoming sick in the process.

    Change is Good

    If you've recently changed your furry friend's diet, this could prompt her to ignore that strange new food, hoping for her old food again. While ideally, it's best not to make drastic changes your kitty's diet, sometimes you have no choice, such as the transition to a new menu better suited to her age group. If your furry buddy has been diagnosed with a health condition like kidney disease or diabetes, your vet might also recommend a dietary change to treat it. He'll likely prescribe your kitty a low-calorie diet if she's overweight and needs to lose some extra ounces.
    To prevent too much of an issue with a finicky feline, try to keep the new food as similar to the old one -- in terms of flavor, ingredients and texture -- as you can. For example, a kitty currently eating chicken-flavored dry food should be kept on a new type of dry food made from chicken, if possible.

    Kitty's Hunger Strike

    While you might be tempted to "wait out" your kitty and see if she'll become hungry enough to cave in and eat what you're feeding her, avoid doing this for more than 24 hours, PetMD recommends. If your furry feline doesn't eat for one to two days, she could develop a condition called hepatic lipidosis, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. When your kitty eats, her body metabolizes the food to supply her with energy; without food in her system, your furry friend metabolizes her body's fat instead, which can build up in her liver. The buildup of these fat cells in the liver won't let the organ function properly and your kitty becomes very sick and unable to eat. This results in starvation and liver failure. If you see that your kitty hasn't eaten for 24 to 48 hours, it's time to see the vet to see if she is suffering from an illness, dental problems or a food allergy of some kind.

    Routine and Stress

    Kitties are sensitive to changes in the feeding regimen or stress in the household. If your finicky feline has been checked out by your vet and nothing is physically wrong with her, something else, like stress of some kind might be to blame for her lack of appetite. Avoid such issues by feeding her on a consistent schedule in a quiet spot, away from other pets in your home. Keep dry food in an air-tight container so it stays and smells fresh to her nose when you serve it. Clean your kitty's dishes daily and leave out canned portions of food for no more than 30 minutes at a time so they don't spoil. Changing her diet? Do so slowly, by adding her new food at a rate of 25 percent every week and decreasing her old one by the same amount.

    Lending a Helping Hand

    A stubborn feline with a clean bill of health might need a little help to tempt her taste buds and get her to start eating. Don't start feeding your furry friend people food if she stops eating because this actually reinforces her behavior -- namely, that not eating results in something delicious. Instead, add a topping of tuna flakes to her canned or dry food to make it more appetizing. Mix a little tuna juice into the food to tempt your kitty to try it. After a few days of normal eating, slowly reduce the amount of tuna flakes or juice during each subsequent meal. Feeding refrigerated leftover canned food? Heat the cold food for a few seconds in the microwave, so it's warm to the touch before offering it to your kitty.

    About the Author

    Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, crafts, television, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared in "The Southern California Anthology" and on Epinions. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

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