Food and Nutrition

Is your Cat a Picky Eater? Here's Why ...
In general usage the term ‘palatability’ is used to define the quality of a food which makes it pleasant to eat. Food preferences of cats are very individual, and cats are often described as finicky eaters. Some cats may refuse food that they don't like, almost to the point of starvation. Palatability therefore plays a major role in feeding pet cats.

Statements about palatability in cats are often generalised. It is, for example, a popularly held belief that cats prefer fish to meat, however, studies have shown that while fish may be highly palatable to some individuals, it is rejected by others.

Proprietary cat foods come in many different flavours and formats. There are a variety of wet foods with different textures, such as chunks in gravy or jelly, as well as loaf products. Dry foods also are available in a variety of flavours and kibble types.

It can be helpful to try and introduce a variety of different flavours and textures to your cat’s diet, so that your cat will become more willing to accept new foods. Many cats do seek some variety in their diet and will welcome a new type of food. However, at times of stress most cats will prefer a diet which is familiar to them. Cats can even lose their appetite, if they feel that the natural order of their life has been disrupted – for instance by moving house, by being boarded in a strange home, by the arrival of a new baby or even another companion pet. If this happens, you should make sure that your cat feels extra secure during the period of change by giving her plenty of love and attention.

Introducing a food that your cat does not like to eat for example when you have to feed a special diet prescribed by your veterinarian, to help treat a specific disease is best done by mixing the new food slowly into one your cat likes, and increasing its proportion daily, until you have totally switched her over to the new food. Changing a cat’s diet can be a challenge, but with persistency and patience, this can be done satisfactorily in many cases.

Cats generally do not like to eat food served straight from the refrigerator and prefer to eat food at room temperature, which is closer to their own body temperature and that of fresh prey. This may originate from behaviour to ensure that only fresh prey is eaten. If you keep an opened can of food in the refrigerator, remember to let it stand in the room for a while to reach room temperature. If your cat refuses her food, it may help to warm it slightly to around 35 C (be careful not to serve it too hot!). Alternatively, you can try a single serve cat food in aluminium trays or pouches, which is served fresh at every mealtime.

Also, don't forget to keep your cat's feeding dishes clean, as the smell of stale food may be enough to put some cats off their food!
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