Do you have a cat that is a little too nice for its food?
Who mates up to the food bowl and sniffs a little and then walks away with an accusing look at you?
Is your cat a proud member of the gastronomy club and lets you throw away untouched food every day? There are often natural explanations for this type of behavior! We need to look at cats’ natural relationship with food, and learn from it.
Cat’s senses, do they have to do with food?
Take a look at the cat’s eyes
Cats have a very good night vision as they are nocturnal animals. It is only natural for them to move, hunt and eat in the dark. The same goes for domestic cats.
When we go to bed for the night, it’s time for the mini tigers to get active with toy mice and food bowls.
Did you know that it is natural for some cats to eat at night?
The cute nose is more sensitive than you might think
The cat’s nose is a super-sensitive instrument that helps the cat identify scents with extreme precision.
Therefore, the cat can quickly, just by the smell, determine if the food you offer is good enough to eat. A dirty bowl or a bowl that has been washed with the wrong detergent may be enough for a miss to dish out the food.
Sometimes a cat can happily devour the same food as it rejected the day before.
It may have to do with how clean the food bowl is, or that the day before there was something on the sink that smelled bad.
Opened food packaging easily smells of other food in the refrigerator.
Therefore, some cats find it difficult to eat food that has been refrigerated.
Look in the mouth of the picky cat
A cat’s teeth are like hooks that hold the prey. Eating meat is not a problem, on the contrary.
Unlike herbivores, the cat hardly needs to chew its food, the digestive system easily handles larger pieces of meat.
The teeth are rather there to tear into flesh.
Many cats like food with resistance to chewing. Offer, for example, raw meat.
If a cat that previously had a normal appetite starts to become picky, you should check your oral health.
Read more about it here.
You have probably felt that the cat’s tongue is as rough as sandpaper. Perfect for cleaning the coat (and your face).
The rough tongue can separate the meat from the legs of small prey (perhaps something to try to avoid thinking about the next time your cat innocently cleans your face).
The tongue is also equipped with sensitive taste buds that allow the cat to easily determine if the food is suitable to eat or not.
Refrigerated food is not good.
Cats prefer fresh food that maintains room temperature up to 35 degrees (like a freshly caught mouse).
The cat’s little belly
The cat’s stomach is small and holds about 10 ml of food at a time.
Therefore, most cats prefer to eat small portions often. The cats empty their stomachs between meals. The most suitable food for cats is easily digested. In other words, foods full of protein.
Of course, the portion size varies from cat to cat, but a cat does not have to be stuffed at every meal. If the cat’s feces are dry and hard, there is no water in the diet. Make sure the cat drinks more water or provide more wet food.
The cat’s hunting behavior
All cats, regardless of indoor or outdoor cat, need the opportunity to stimulate their hunting behavior. These inherited behaviors do not go away because the cat is tame.
A cat that can be activated through, for example, activation toys feels better. Hunting games are a good exercise and can also improve appetite. Read more about activating cats here.
Watch, hunt, attack, capture, kill, eat
The hunting behavior consists of five elements that end with the cat having the pleasure of eating its prey. Being able to go through the whole chain is satisfying for the cat.
It releases serotonin and dopamine in the brain and increases well-being. An outdoor cat often gets an outlet for this on its adventures, and even if it does not always manage to catch the prey, the hunt is a pleasure.
An indoor cat, on the other hand, is often guaranteed to catch its prey. A toy mouse is at least as satisfying to hunt and “kill” as a real one. As a conclusion, you can give the cat some food after the hunt is over, then the whole chain will be complete.
Most common causes of wrinkled nose:
The cat gets too much food
It can be so simple that your picky cat is not hungry.
Try making smaller portions and establishing a meal schedule, it usually helps.
You can also try removing the food bowl completely. Instead, feed the cat through activation toys.
As I said, it is natural for the cat to work to get food. At first, the cat may need a little help and encouragement to get started with activation games, but once it has learned, it often does not want to do anything else.
The kitchen is open 24 hours a day
Even cats need mealtimes. Many picky animals live in a never-ending buffet of feed. When there is always food available, the gastronomic mini tigers become picky and start rejecting everyday food.
If you make sure that food is not always available, it will be more valuable to the cat. Try to divide a day’s food into 3-4 meal times. As breakfast, lunch and dinner for us humans. Leave the food in front for 30 minutes and then remove it.
First, maybe the cat will be confused by the change. But everyone can learn to live with a meal schedule. The cat should of course not be forced to fast, but remember that in nature, feral cats do not have free access to food. There are feeders that are a great help in keeping meal times.
Dirty bowls and the wrong detergent
As you could read at the beginning of the article, the cat’s nose is super sensitive. It quickly detects if the dish is poorly washed or if you have used a strong-smelling detergent. It may be enough for the cat to turn its paw and reject the food.
Wash the food and water bowl after each meal. Preferably use a mild or unscented detergent and rinse thoroughly. Cats are clean and sensitive animals, they are qualities they needed to survive in the wild.
Cats prefer to have the water bowl in a different place than the food bowl. Make sure you have several water bowls around the home, always with fresh and clean water of course.
Wrong kind of bowl
Do you prefer to have dinner on fine china or directly from the pizza box? There are as many opinions as people about what is best. The same goes for cats. Some may prefer a deep ceramic bowl while others like a larger metal bowl. Same thing with water bowls, some want a tall glass that they can stick their head in while others want a large bowl.
The different materials feel different under the tongue and smell different. Plastic bowls tend to absorb odors from food so they are rarely poppis. Try it out and see what your cat likes best.
Some foods can lead to stomach problems for some cats. Everyone misses is different, just like us humans. When the cat misses the food, it may not be because it is picky, but because it actually hurts in the stomach if it eats. Stomach problems can be felt on, for example, the stool, which then becomes loose and smells strong.
Some cats vomit, lose extra fur and have skin problems. Of course, if this affects your cat, you should always go to the vet, but it can also be an idea to change the food.
A cat needs food with a lot of fluid and a lot of protein. A balanced fresh food diet is optimal for most cats. But it does not suit all cats, or their owners. Then it is important to choose feed with a high meat content.
If you prefer dry food, you should supplement it with wet food to make sure that the cat ingests enough fluid. Dry food can also be soaked in a little lukewarm water.
The quality of cat food varies endlessly. A cat that receives high-quality food often eats with a good appetite, but preferably smaller portions. This is when food is poorly nourished as pickiness and other symptoms usually show up.
Our store staff will be happy to help you find a suitable food for your particular cat.
Accustomed to low-quality food
Low quality feed often contains seasonings. Cats that have become accustomed to this may seem skeptical of healthier food. Imagine yourself switching to a diet full of sweets, soft drinks and fast food for salad, fruit and whole grains. It can feel daunting at first. Try it out and use the advice on meal schedules that we wrote about earlier in the article. Remember that feed changes must take place slowly and over time so that the sensitive intestinal flora has time to adjust. About 10-14 days takes a normal feed change.
Tried fresh food?
Have you tried switching to fresh food from, for example, dry food or wet food and the cat wrinkles its nose and leaves? It is common for cats to be suspicious of fresh food if they are bred on and accustomed to receiving dry or wet food. Fresh food both smells and tastes different and this can make the cat skeptical.
The benefits of fresh food are many, so do not give up if you want your cats to eat more naturally. Try putting some fresh food next to the cat’s regular food to get it used to the smell and taste. Then you can mix an extremely small amount of fresh food in the food and gradually when the cat has accepted this, you can start to increase the amount.
Disturbed in the middle of the food
A stressed cat easily loses appetite. Maybe the cat avoids the food bowl because other pets disturb when it eats? Or maybe there are children in the family who do not leave the cat alone when it is food day?
Sensitive cats can also be disturbed by music or radio squealing near food bowls. It takes quite a bit for a sensitive cat to ignore eating, even if it is hungry.
Here it is your task to ensure that the miss can eat in peace and quiet. Maybe you need to be inventive? Is it possible to put the cat’s food bowl a little higher up so that children or other pets do not reach?
Is it another cat that is disturbing, maybe the two misses are allowed to eat in their respective rooms with the door closed? Do your best to ensure that your cat has dinner peace. It is important to remember that all animals in the household should be able to eat undisturbed at the same time.
If your cat has had a poor appetite for a long time and is also starting to lose weight, it is time to go to the vet. The cat may have pain, for example in teeth or in their gums.
Do not worry! It is common for cats to be picky. The reasons can be many, but most go back to the cat’s species-specific behavior. Try our tips, and if your cat still refuses to eat what it is served, go to the vet or ask for advice in one of our stores. We love our cats and want them to feel best.
Quick tips for you with a picky cat
- Make a meal schedule
- Replace food bowl
- Change feed
- Make sure the cat has peace and quiet when eating