Dealing with a cat who refuses to eat is worrisome, and can also be very frustrating for cat parents. Understanding why cats become finicky, and knowing how to not only encourage them to eat, but transition them to a healthier diet like ZIWI, will turn finicky eaters into kitties who enjoy every meal.
Loss of appetite can be serious and should never be taken lightly. Anytime a cat stops eating, it can be an indicator of a medical problem. Cats who stop eating for more than 24-48 hours can develop a life-threatening condition called hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease.
What makes a cat finicky?
The most common cause for finicky eating is lack of variety. Kittens who are fed a variety of foods after being weaned from their mother develop varied tastes. Cats who are only fed one particular food from kittenhood on often refuse unfamiliar foods later in life. This is particularly true for cats who are being fed dry food. Baked or extruded kibble is sprayed with animal digest, a material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolisis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue as part of the production process, to increase palatability. For some cats, the taste of dry food is like “kitty crack” and actually causes them to be addicted.
Do you have the right food bowls?
Most cats don’t like narrow or deep bowls that cause their sensitive whiskers to touch the sides of the bowl. Plastic food bowls can give off smells that are offensive to sensitive feline noses, and they can also cause chin rashes in sensitive cats. Bowls should be kept scrupulously clean, but using detergents with a strong scent to wash bowls and the area around the bowls can cause food aversion in some cats.
Never mix medications with a full meal
While giving medications with food can work well for some cats, never mix it in with the cat’s regular food. Most medications alter the flavor of food, and even though your cat may eat the food with the medication mixed in once or twice, you may be inadvertently creating a food aversion. If you must use food to give medication, use a small amount of a different food, and then feed the cat’s regular meal.
How to transition your cat to ZIWI:
When transitioning your cat to Ziwi, go slow, and be patient. Gradually decrease the amount of the old food and increase the amount of the new food over a period of five to seven days. Stop free-choice feeding, and feed your cat only at set meal times. Take up any food that’s left after about 30 minutes. Don’t feed anything else until the next meal.
Be prepared that your cat will make you feel like you’re letting him starve. This phase of the process can be much harder on the human than it is on the cat. Persistence is key. A little hunger at meal times can be a powerful motivator to get a cat to accept the new food. Of course, never let a cat go without eating for more than 24-28 hours.
Incentives to tempt finicky eaters
- Sprinkle freeze dried chicken or salmon on top.
- Drizzle a little bit of tuna or clam juice drizzled over the food
- Add small pieces of cooked meat
- Spread a spoonful of meat-based baby food (make sure it doesn’t contain onion powder) on top of the meal
- Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the food (yes, the stuff in the green can)
- Sprinkle nutritional yeast over the food
- As a last resort, crush a small amount of kibble over the food