Unlike humans, you can't ask your kitty what type of food he likes best. Instead, you have to rely on his behavior when you offer him different types of food. A cat will ignore a meal he doesn't like and chow down on the chow he prefers.
Ask the breeder or shelter from which you adopted your kitty what brand of food he was eating. He may have an existing preference for this particular brand or flavor of food.
This is especially true for younger kitties, because kittens tend to form most of their food preferences as youngsters, according to an article published in the December 2010 issue of "Compendium: Continuing Education for Veterinarians."
If you can't get this information, ask your veterinarian for some cat food recommendations.
Purchase four to eight brands of cat food in different flavors to run some test feedings. Obtain just a couple of cans at a time and small bags of dry kibble in case your kitty doesn't like the flavors or brands you choose. If purchasing from your veterinarian, he may even be able to provide sample bags of food for you at little to no cost.
Offer two of the foods you have picked out for your furry buddy in dishes next to each other during each of his feedings. If trying out canned cat foods, allow him to eat from his two dishes of canned food for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. If trying out dry food, you can leave out his dishes all day for him to sample. Repeat the trial for two to three days, in case your little one needs to get used to the foods before he develops a preference.
Whichever dish he eats from more is the food he likes best. Repeat this process for two to six other brands or flavors if you'd like. Take note of the food he prefers during each trial.
Feed the preferred foods from your initial trials in groups of two, with each type in a dish next to the other, until you narrow it down to just one. See which one he eats most of to figure out which one he ultimately likes best from the group. Continue to feed the "winning" food to your little one, purchasing it in a larger amount.
Change the flavors you feed your cat to prevent him from becoming finicky or bored of the food that he's eating. Rotate his foods every few weeks.
You may want to choose to feed the same brand of food in different flavors so these changes don't cause any stomach upset. You could also rotate the foods he initially preferred from your food trials.
- WebMD: How to Deal With a Cat That’s a Picky Eater
- Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition: Factors Influencing the Food Preference of Cats
- Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition: Comparison of Feed Preference and Digestion of Three Different Commercial Diets for Cats and Ferrets
- National Research Council of the National Academies: Your Cat's Nutritional Needs
- Compendium: Continuing Education for Veterinarians; Environmental Enrichment for Indoor Cats; Meghan E. Herron, DVM, DACVB and C.A. Tony Buffington, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN
- Applied Animal Behaviour Science; Differences in Food Preferences Between Individuals and Populations of Domestic Cats Felis SilÍestris Catus; J.W.S. Bradshaw et al.
- MSN Living: Why Is My Cat..So Finicky About Food?
- Cats base their food preferences primarily on scent and tend to prefer those made with just one type of meat, according to an article published in the August 2001 issue of the "Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition." Your kitty may prefer canned cat food because it smells more potent than dry food.
- Foods with a higher fat content may entice your kitty more than those with a lower one, according to an article published in the April 2005 issue of the "Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition."
- Feed your kitty in a quiet spot, away from noisy appliances or other pets, so that he's comfortable eating there. A cat won't eat if he's afraid of the area surrounding his food.
- No matter what you offer your kitty, if he doesn't eat, it's time for a visit to the vet to see if something is wrong.
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.