Is Your Cat a Picky Eater? Training Guide to Help Them Eat
Why fresh food?
Before we talk about how to get your cat to try something new, let’s talk about what to feed them. There are many different types of cat food available — dry food, canned, raw and fresh — and a few reasons why fresh food is worth the little extra work of transition.
- Your cat is an obligate carnivore.
In human: that means your cat is a natural meat-eater. So why not just feed your cat chicken and canned tuna? Cats need taurine, arachidonic acid, and pre-formed vitamin A to support healthy organ function. Nom Nom meals for cats are made of real chicken and fish — what your cat would eat in the wild, with the nutrients they need and a few veggies for vitamins. (Plus you don’t have to do the cooking.)
- Your cat needs to eat water.
While dogs will happily chug-a-lug at their bowls, cats, whose ancestors came from arid desert areas, are used to getting their hydration through what they eat. A dry food diet, nearly devoid of water, can cause dehydration and lead to urinary tract infections and kidney issues. Fresh food has the ideal water content needed to support your cat’s digestive system and overall bodily functions.
- Your cat may need less food than you think.
More than 55% of house cats in the US are overweight. If your cat is used to eating kibble, they could be getting three to four times more calories than they need, and mostly from carbs — not optimal for a natural meat eater. A chubby kitty can look cute, but those extra pounds can cause serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory ailments. A diet of real food without fillers can lead to a balanced weight. Nom Nom meals are made of fresh, real ingredients and are pre-portioned according to your cat’s individual health and weight goals. Each meal is just the right amount.
Why the full bowl?
Cats are notorious for being picky when it comes to their food preferences (among other things). Even when offered healthy meals that contain palatable proteins, like fresh chicken or fish, there’s still a chance they’ll refuse to eat.
Cats’ preferences aren’t always based on what’s best for them, either. The meals your cat loves could be the feline equivalent of fast food. Tasty? Yes. Good for them? Not always. A healthier diet can help support their overall health and immunity, meaning fewer vet visits and a lot more purring. So how do you get them to transition to a new diet successfully? First, let’s explore why they might not be warming up to the new food.
If your cat is hesitant to try their new food, don’t be surprised — or give up. There’s probably a good reason and it could be that:
- It’s just new.
Cats are neophobic, or resistant to new things, like new foods or changes in the environment — with of course the exception of a new empty box to jump in...
- It’s not smelly enough.
The feline sense of smell is sharp, but they’re more attracted to strong scents. The new food may not have as strong an aroma as what they’re used to eating.
- It’s too sudden.
An abrupt switch, without time to get used to the new food, can make even a hungry cat walk away.
- It’s not as much fun.
We love giving our cats treats because they get so excited about them. Sometimes that means we give them too many treats, and after that, mealtime doesn’t mean much. A kitty full of fun stuff plus one or more of the problems above can add up to food refusal.
One last note: If your cat hasn’t been eating much of their familiar food either, consult with your veterinarian about other possible issues.
Transition tips for fussy felines
Now that you know what kind of food to feed your cat, it's time to transition. And for many kitties it takes time. If you’re noticing a lack of interest, it’s seldomly about the quality of the meal. And oftentimes more about your cat being, well, a cat. It may take some effort on your part to get them to open up but once they do, they’ll thank you for introducing their new favorite. Here are some tips to help them make the leap into healthier eating:
- Start with a small spoonful.
Begin by offering a little bit of Nom Nom as a treat. If your cat likes it, then slowly increase the amount of Nom Nom as you decrease the amount of previous food at every meal.
- Warm it up.
Cats like food with strong smells, and warming your cat’s Nom Nom meal can bring out those real ingredient scents and entice them to try it. Just place an unopened meal pack in a bowl of warm water for 20 to 30 seconds before serving.
- Try a separate dish.
Put a small amount of Nom Nom in a separate dish next to their regular food so your cat will begin to associate the smell of the new food with mealtime. Then, at every meal, slowly increase the amount of new food as you decrease the amount of the previous food.
- Make mealtime the new playtime.
Chasing a toy and pouncing on it mimics what cats would do with a would-be meal in the wild. Try playing with your cat before mealtime to stimulate their appetite.
- Pretend to eat it.
Sounds silly, but for families who share their food with their cats, pretending to eat some Nom Nom can help! This tactic works especially well with cats who like to beg or steal food at mealtime. (Fact: You could eat your cat’s Nom Nom food — it’s made from real, USDA Grade-A ingredients — but let them have it.)
- Start a feeding schedule.
When food is available all the time, cats can become overly selective. Try a set feeding schedule of twice a day at times that work for you. That way, your cat will learn to expect food at those times.
- Try tough love.
Offer your cat Nom Nom and withhold the previous food for a meal or two. Be sure your cat doesn’t go more than 24 hours without eating. If they won’t take to the new food, give them their previous food for a meal. At the next meal, try again — remember, kitties can be very stubborn.
Successful changes happen gradually, and when you want to make sure your pet is as healthy and happy as possible, it’s worth it to learn a few new tricks. Let us know how it’s going; we’re here to help and answer any questions at [email protected]. For more on cat nutrition and feeding, check out the guides below.