Skip to content

    Healthy Cats

    Select An Article
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    How to Deal With a Cat That’s a Picky Eater

    WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about cats and finicky eating habits.
    By Sandy Eckstein
    WebMD Pet Health Feature

    Is your cat a picky eater that turns up his nose at almost everything you serve? Why are some cats good eaters, while others act like they’d rather starve than eat what you give them? WebMD asked Tony Buffington, a nationally known expert in feline health and nutrition, for some tips on how to keep our kitties happy and well fed. Buffington is a member and past president of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and a professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University.

    Q: Why does my cat like something one day and then won’t eat it the next?

    A: In nature, cats are very open to trying new foods. So if a cat is finicky, something is wrong. It helps to understand how cats feed. Cats are solitary hunters. They aren’t pack hunters. They have a completely different evolutionary history with food than pack animals have.

    In the wild, they eat between 10 and 20 meals a day, and they are opportunistic feeders. That means they eat when food is available. They hunt small prey, and those animals -- small birds, mice, bugs -- don’t have a lot of calories. That’s why they have to eat so often.

    So if a cat is finicky, something is preventing its natural feeding behaviors. Then it’s a matter of figuring out what that is. It can be any number of things from it just doesn’t like the food to it’s too frightened to eat. Sometimes, just breaking a cat’s routine can put a cat off its food. This is especially true with indoor cats. They often perceive change as a threat.

    Q: Does my cat need more than just dry food to eat? Why?

    A: No, dry food is fine as long as it’s a commercially available food from a major manufacturer. Some people are radically opposed to dry food. Some people hate canned food. I think you should feed your cat what he likes.

    Q: Should I free feed my cat (always leave food out) or just put food down for a short period of time?

    1 | 2 | 3
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    cat at table
    What's safe for them to eat?
    Maine Coon cat breed
    What they do and why cats have them.
     
    Kitten in litterbox
    How to solve them.
    cat meowing
    Why some cats are so talkative
     
    cat on couch
    Evaluator
    Kitten using litter box
    Quiz
     
    sleeping kitten
    Slideshow
    sad kitten looking at milk glass
    Slideshow
     
    cat at table
    Slideshow
    muddy dog on white sofa
    Quiz
     
    Maine Coon cat breed
    Article
    Pets: Behavior Problems in Cats
    Slideshow