How to Feed Picky Eating Cats

Picky eaters need to be monitored to make sure they're eating properly.

Picky eaters need to be monitored to make sure they're eating properly.

You know you have problems when your cat is suddenly eating as if he's picking from a menu. If your cat has always been a picky eater, take a deep breath and resign yourself to being his cook. If this is recent, talk to a vet to rule out a medical problem.

Try a different brand of dry food. Even if you pick 10 different brands with a fish flavor, they will all taste different. Expensive brands might not have salmon in them, but they probably do have better-quality fish, fish oils and other natural flavorings in them—and more of them. Cheaper brands might be all about fake add-ons that your cat is shunning. And really, who can blame him?

Switch to canned food. This might be worthy of a chat with your vet. Some people —including some vets—recommend dry food, while others prefer wet food. There are pros and cons to each one and you'll probably never be able to get a consensus on the topic. If your cat is turning up his nose at one type of food, however, it's worth it to try the other, just to see what happens.

Set out a bowl of dry food so your cat can eat when he feels like it. Cats are nibblers: they prefer to eat small amounts many times a day rather than two big meals. It's possible that what you see as refusal of food is just him complaining about the feeding schedule. Or he might not be able to eat more than a tiny amount at once and want to leave the rest for later.

Feed your cat in a quiet corner. If Fluffy is not eating, it could be because Simba —his annoying home companion—has gotten into the habit of pouncing on him or trying to steal his food. As a result, Fluffy could be too stressed to actually concentrate on food. Feed the cats in different rooms if necessary, or close doors to help them relax and enjoy their meals. If you leave food out at all times, have at least two bowls in different areas of the house.

Make the food more attractive. Dry food can be a bit blah for fussy cats, so add a couple of drops of fish oil to the top to increase its flavor and aroma. Or warm up wet food in the microwave for just a few seconds. If that doesn't work, try offering two bowls of different brands of food. This will allow your cat to choose. After a few days you'll notice a preference and then you'll be able to pick one brand over the other.


  • Being a picky eater is not the same as refusing to eat for long periods of time. If your cat is not eating at all, or is eating much less than usual, take him to the vet.

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About the Author

Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

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