Cats and Fussy Eating

Cats have a reputation for being finicky and fussy when it comes to food. However, if fed the correct way, they can abstain from this type of behaviour – fussiness is not an inherent trait bred into cats.

If you provide a cat with a nutritious and palatable diet, they will be happy to eat the same type of food every day.

Let’s explore the different aspects of why a cat may be acting fussily, and – if applicable – what you can do to change their fussy behaviour.


It’s important to be aware that what might initially look like fussy eating may just be your cat eating slowly and intermittently. Many cats are nibblers and prefer to have a mouthful of food here and there as they please.

Don’t worry if they don’t finish their meal straight away, it is by no means a conclusive sign that they do not like their food.

Too many treats

One reason your cat may be avoiding the diet prescribed to them is because they’re possibly eating too many treats.

You should not give your cat scraps from a meal or too many cat treats, as not only will they fill themselves up too much on treats, they might get to a point where they abstain from their diet because all they want to eat is their treats.

Your cat may complain for a while if you take away their treats, but eventually they will start eating the food in their bowl, and by doing so, they will get the nutrition they require from their diet.

Additionally, try to ensure that no one else is giving treats to your cat, whether in your household or in the neighbourhood. It only takes one person to change how your cat expects to get their food.

If possible, speak to your neighbours to ensure they aren’t allowing your cat to eat at their home.

Introducing a new diet

If you’re changing your cat’s food, the best way to integrate their new food into their diet is to introduce it gradually. Start by mixing a little of the new food with their regular food – gradually increasing the amount until the cat is used to the taste and substance of the new food, and will eat just the new food contently.

Environmental effect

It may not be the food that’s keeping your cat from the food bowl, it could be the environment that’s having an effect on their eating habits. For example, something may have spooked them (e.g. a loud, sudden noise) when a particular food was served.

Has anything changed in your house, like a new cat, a new puppy, or even a new bowl? Cats can have compulsions about food and food aversions just like people. They may just want their old bowl back or their old feeding station returned, or perhaps they want their food bowl returned to the location that they’re used to.

Even the temperature of the food served is important as cats generally prefer to eat food that is at room temperature or slightly warm.

Solitary Eaters

As a general rule, cats prefer their own bowl. They may even prefer total privacy, which means they should have their own specific spot far away from any other cats in the house, and should be bothered as little as possible while they eat.

Recognising your cat’s peculiar eating behaviours before implementing their new diet sufficiently is vital.

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When to intervene

In rare occurrences, some cats will stop eating for days if you don’t give them what they want.

Cats should not go more than 24 hours without eating. If your cat has not eaten for more than 24 hours because he is sick or acting sick, take them to your veterinarian for a diagnosis.

However, if they are not eating because you are trying to change their diet, you should give them a little of what they’re used to after 24 hours. Remember to introduce a new diet by mixing it in with their current food before replacing it entirely with their new food.

If your cat suddenly becomes fussy for the first time after having never exhibiting finicky behaviour, or appears to be losing weight, you should discuss matters further with your vet.

Sometimes behaviour that appears fussy could be a sign of a digestive upset, hairballs, or the need for dental treatment.

If you’re still not sure why your cat appears to be exhibiting fussy behaviour, make sure you speak with your vet for further information.

We hope this article helped you learn more about cats and fussy eating. If you have another question about medicine for cats, how to give them pills, or any other questions about cats then we’d like to help. Submit your question below.


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