Finicky cat? Make meals more enticing with these tips

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By Sandie Lee

Cats are notorious for being finicky eaters. They may take one sniff at a perfectly fine dish of food, then turn tail and leave the offending “slop” behind with an air of disgust. This can occur even if the food in her dish has been her favorite up to this point. It’s a cat’s prerogative to change her mind on a moment’s notice, don’t you know?

If this has happened with your feline friend, you’re not alone. Cat owners all over the world have endured this frustration (and probably always will), but there are ways to get Kitty back to the dish.

Is Kitty healthy?

The most important reason a cat may refuse food is illness or stress. Before you try to entice your cat to eat, you have to determine whether it’s simply being picky or has something affecting its physiology. Cats that refuse sustenance for more than 24 hours or exhibit other signs of illness, like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or weakness should be taken to a veterinarian to determine the underlying source of these symptoms.

Try same brand, different flavors

Unless your cat has a medical reason that prevents it from exploring new foods, changing the flavor of your present brand is sometimes enough to re-ignite your cat’s vigor for dining. If this is not an option, or you’ve run out of possibilities with a certain brand, beware that a sudden change in food brands may cause some diarrhea in your cat. However, it should clear up once your cat’s system has become accustomed to the dietary change.

Nuke it!

Can food that is refrigerated after being opened will become less aromatic. But putting it in the microwave for about 5 to 10 seconds will be enough to bring out its natural smell and flavor. No microwave (or don’t want to stink up the house)? Mix some warm water into the food.

Add some flavor

There are things you can use to enhance the flavor and smell of your cat’s food. Sprinkle a teaspoon of dried catnip over the food to make it more enticing, use products like powdered cat vitamins or dried Bonito flakes (Japanese skip jack tuna) to enhance the food’s taste, or even drizzle some canned salmon juice over dry kibble and mix well.

Keep those kitty dishes clean!

Cats are repelled by the smell of putrid meat, so be sure to wash the food dish after every meal to rid it of any leftover morsels of food. Food left to spoil in dishes will create bacteria and even mold which can cause illness in your cat. In addition, if you use plastic, switch over to ceramic, glass, or metal as these substances are easier to keep clean and also won’t hold onto the scent of your dishwashing liquid.

Try shallower dishes

Some felines don’t care for deep dishes as this constricts their whiskers. Short-snout breeds, such as the Persian and Himalayan, may have trouble eating out of a deeper dish because of the restriction on their airways.

Don’t hide medication in food

Most medications for animals are extremely bitter tasting, so by grinding it up in your cat’s food, you may be inadvertently tainting the taste and smell. Unfortunately, your cat will remember the taste was unpleasant and most likely will not try it again. Some medications now come pet-friendly-flavored, so ask your vet if it is one that could be hidden in food without any negative consequences (such as malabsorption).

Cats crave variety just like people do, so try new flavors and textures with your cat to see which one she prefers. As long as there’s no medical reason for your cat withdrawing from its regular diet, she may just be craving a change. Today, there are many, many different formulas and flavors of food to try, which may be just what your cat has been waiting for. Don’t give up on the search for the perfect food. It’s only a matter of time before you find the right taste profile that Kitty is sure to dive right into….at least for now.

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sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons; winter and not winter! Her husband and two furbabies, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day.

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