Finicky cat? Make meals more enticing with these tips

cat-374909_960_720

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.

********

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.

Why do cats pant?

cat-1559432_960_720

By Emily Bruer

If you have an active cat, chances are you have seen her pant a time or two. But cats don’t pant the way that dogs do, and so you might be wondering “is panting natural?” or “should I be worried about this?”

For the average cat, the most common time for panting to occur is after strenuous activity. If you have ever seen the TV show “My Cat From Hell” you have likely seen Jackson Galaxy exercising cats until they begin panting. (To be honest, most of our couch-potato cats could benefit from a little more exercise and panting.)

Cats can also pant when experiencing severe anxiety or stress. You may notice it on the car ride to the vet, after a loud party at your house, or a night of fireworks. Depending on the sensitivity of your cat, you may see this behavior a little more or a little less.

When you notice your cat panting in fear or distress it’s best to remove them from the situation and get them somewhere they feel safe. (Vet visits are important trips, so you may not always be able to get your cat somewhere calm, but do your best. One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to make sure your cat is habituated to the carrier well before that first vet visit.)

If your cat isn’t stressed or tired from exercise, and is just sprawled out on the sofa panting for no reason, that’s a serious matter that could indicate an underlying medical condition.

Get to the vet as soon as you can so that you can get kitty a wellness exam. It’s likely that when you get there they will want to do some diagnostics, such as a full blood work panel that checks organ functions and thyroid levels. (If your cat’s blood work comes back perfect, you will still benefit from knowing what her normal values are so that when she gets sick in the future you will have a good baseline.)

Your vet will likely also want to test your kitty for diseases like FIV, feline leukemia, and heartworms. While heartworms are rare in cats, they can get them, and a large infestation could lead to pulmonary distress and panting.

Radiographs are another diagnostic test your vet may want to perform. Growths in the nasal cavities and lungs can cause panting and should be visible in radiographs. A radiograph of the stomach may also be helpful as well, as severe stomach pain could cause panting.

If none of these tests reveal the cause of your cat’s panting, your vet may recommend you visit a specialist to have an ultrasound done of the heart and the abdomen. Though radiographs can usually pick up tumors, they can’t always detect fluids in the lungs or surrounding areas.

While your vet is working to determine the cause of the panting, he may want to begin treatment for the other symptoms. If your cat has been panting for a very long time, it’s likely she also hasn’t be drinking or eating much. Your vet may want to start your cat on fluids, antibiotics, or even give her a blood transfusion, depending on what the results of the diagnostic tests have been and what he feels might be wrong with her.

Don’t worry if you aren’t able to get an immediate diagnosis; your vet will work with you to figure out exactly what is ailing your feline friend. And in the meantime, make sure that Kitty is getting the appropriate nutrition and medication and has a suitable environment and enrichment for her age and health. 

********

emily-bruer-pawedinEmily Bruer has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.