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It is common problem that cats are picky with the food that you are feeding them and can result in improper nutrition for your feline friend. There are a few different reasons why your cat may be steering clear of your meal choices for them and they aren’t all because you picked the wrong food. With all of our pets there is a presence of natural instinct that we must acknowledge. Cats feed a certain way in the wild and those tendencies carry over into their domestic lives. Adding some of the elements of the wild to how they are feeding can be an easy
#1 Free Feeding And Foraging For Cat Food
In the wild cats eat more than 10 small meals a day. They are essentially always looking out for food and if it presents itself they will feed. They are also known to be hunters, on an individual level. This is why cats spend time alone a lot, this is their natural tendency, to find food by themselves. People often joke that cats are rude and selfish but technically they are not wrong, however it is a mechanism from the wild. If the opportunity for food arises they will feast.
Cats can get picky if you are telling them when they are supposed to eat. To combat this we can put food down several times a day and leave it out. The cat will eat when it feels it has hunted the food properly. It’s basically making them think it was their idea to have the food and that they found it.
The other part of the natural tendencies is that cats like to find the food and work for it. Many toys and treats have a space for food for this reason. That is not just to get the cat interested in the toy but to make it feel like hunter again. It may be beneficial to leave some food out that is in a device with holes in it so the cat has to work to get the food out. Giving it a few free feeding options that make your cat work can trigger that natural instinct to be continually hunting all day and fulfill the need to have many small meals versus the few you decide they should eat and when.
#2 Introduce New Cat Food Slowly
Maybe you are having issues switching brands of food for your cat and they only seem to be interested in their old food. This is a common issues with cats, especially those who are already picky eaters. With most changes to what your cat is used to it is a good idea to ease them into it if they are not all for the new food right away.
Some techniques to do this are to slowly mix in some of the new food with the old food and continue to increase the new food in that ratio until eventually it is all the new food. Another angle is to present them together.
Interesting enough we see a lot of cats that won’t eat new food if you just put it out by itself. When we placed a bowl of new food next to the old food frequently the cat will move on to the new food after eating the old food. This can go one for as long as it takes to get them used to just the new food, put out less and less of the old food as you go.
If you already have a picky eater, changing cat foods can be a nightmare. A gradual change to a new food is recommended or if you can get the new food to be desired maybe in a different place before integrating it into the regular feeding areas you maybe able to trick them. Don’t be afraid to use something that they are comfortable with to get them to try something new. In the wild cats are known for trying new things, they will do it eventually.
#3 Safe Eating Space For Your Cat
How picky your cat is being can have nothing to do with the food you are feeding them and more to do with the environment you are asking them to eat it in. Due to their natural solitary hunting behaviors cats like to eat alone where they do not feel threatened by other animals or noises.
When picking a place for your cat to eat make sure it is away from any other animals. This includes other cats. Each cat needs to feel like it can eat properly without being threatened or trapped by another animal who might also want to eat its food. If you already have an established space for this cat away from the other animals, where its litter box is etc., then that should be a good place to put its food. Many owners want to set feeding areas up so that multiple cats can eat out of the same dish, this rarely works. We see cats wait until the other cats are gone or stop eating completely when there is a shared area.
Another element of them feeling safe in their eating space is it being in a calm place in the house. If their food is placed in a loud area or where there can be surprises to the cat, they will not feel comfortable. We have all seen cats almost jump out of their skin when startled. Feeling afraid will definitely keep them from wanting to eat in that area, move the food away from doors or places that appliances or motors can start up loudly.
There is also a fair chance your cat does not like the certain food you are feeding them. However, if trying to change the food is not working, remember that the environment and replication of some wild tendencies can be very helpful in getting your picky eater to eat their cat food.