Owners of cats know that cats can really make a house a home. So if we see them not enjoying their food, by ignoring it or eating very slowly, it makes us want to think of ways we can help them take more of an interest in their food. Not only do we, as humans, know that eating can be a hugely enjoyable pastime, it is also of the utmost importance to eat a well balanced diet that provides all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients a cat needs.

In our guide to how to make eating more enjoyable for cats, we look at five ways and tips that can help your feline friend up their food intake if they are not eating enough and losing weight.

Make It Fun 

Cats will adore having to work for their food so try to make giving them their meal that little bit more fun for them. As intelligent creatures, they love this sort of challenge and relish the chance to use their brains – whether it is to extricate their food or in some other game.

Some good options are to get cat balls with small holes that are just about big enough for their food – wet or dry – to come out of when they hit the ball repeatedly. Another good idea is to get a board that has little stuffable bits coming out of it that your cat has to work for to get to his or her food.

By making it a game, they are far more likely to keep going with actually eating their food as opposed to when it is simply left out for them in their bowl every day.

Leave Them To It 

It’s good to remember the personality and characteristics of cats. While not true all felines, regardless of breed, some are simply far more sensitive than others. This means that they will not like eating their food in a noisy space or place. Some will not like eating food near a human or anything else they perceive to be dangerous. While cats are often creatures of habit, if they don’t like eating their food, try moving their bowl to a different spot and see if that makes a difference.

A good rule of thumb, regardless of temperament, is to have a big enough distance between a cat’s feeding bowl and his or her little box. If it is too close, it will be like eating from where they go to the toilet and will immediately put them off their food, however much they like what you have left out for them.

Above all, try to leave them to it. You may not realise it as their loving owner, but standing over them until they have finished their food can make them very nervous and intimidate them. This can be incredibly off putting for even the most brazen of cats so give them their space to eat their breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Think of Innovative Ways to Feed Them

If cat owners come up with new and innovative ways to feed their cats, other than simply pouring their food into their dog bowl, they may find that this is a great way to learn how to stimulate your cat’s appetite.

This does not take a great deal of time, but ways like throwing bits of food for them to run off and catch can be extremely effective. Or hiding their food around the house in different places can also see a cat’s appetite improve. Some cat owners look towards automatic feeders however to help their cats enjoy their food more. The best automatic cat feeders will allow a cat to hit a button or activate the feeder by passing in front of it so they learn to approach it whenever they are hungry. This has been seen to help cats enjoy their food that little bit more if they have control over when they are fed.

Choose to Give Them Canned Food on Occasion

We all know that kibble is good for your cat’s digestive systems, and the very best brands always formulate their food to ensure that they are providing cats with a balanced diet that includes everything they need. This means that they will ingest all the vitamins and minerals they need to maintain a healthy body, sleek fur coat and sparkly eyes along with teeth and gums that are always in excellent condition.

However, the same kibble over and over again may not pique your cat’s interest all the time which could be a factor into why they appear not to be enjoying their food. If you think this could be a reason, why not try giving them canned cat food every once in a while – perhaps every third meal.

Some argue that canned food is actually better for cats given that they are natural carnivores. To some extent, believers in this theory are right in that dry kibble simply cannot meet their needs in terms of proteins, but kibble can also be far too low in water and too high in fillers or carbohydrates. In fact, some animal nutritionists would go so far as to argue that cats do not need carbohydrates at all.

Canned food advocates even go on to say that changing their cats’ diets to solely canned food ended up saving them money in terms of vet bills as their cats’ diet was so much better overall plus they ate the right amount as opposed to picking at kibble and not finishing a portion.

Avoid Foods That Can be Toxic to Cats

This may sound obvious, but owners who are wondering how to stimulate their cat’s appetite should ensure they are not giving their cats any food that is actually toxic to them. This can happen quite inadvertently at times and it can be found to be a reason that a cat who usually enjoys his or her food has suddenly lost their appetite.

While eating food that is toxic to them can obviously be fatal at times, if a cat ingests toxic food in small quantities it does not necessarily kill them but it will give them a nasty tummy bug that can put them off their food almost immediately.

Foods to be wary of that can cause such issues are sometimes obvious and sometimes not nearly well known enough to be dangerous for cats to ingest. For instance, alcohol and caffeine are obvious no goes, but there are actually some dairy products that should be off limits to cats too. As is the same with dogs, grapes or raisins or chocolate can be harmful if eaten in far too large a quantity so should be avoided all together. The same can be said of foods from the onion family like shallots, garlic and chives. Cats should also be carefully watched to make sure that they are not eating any xylitol which is a sweetner we can find in sweets and toothpaste.

Obviously keep the medicine cabinets locked at all times too to ensure that they don’t swallow anything dangerous in there either.

kitten eating

How To Stimulate Your Cat’s Appetite: The Bottom Line

All these tips for how to stimulate your cat’s appetite should be able to help those with felines that are a little off their food. However, it is good to remember not to try them all at once as you won’t realise what it is that is making the difference – plus trying them all at once may inadvertently put your cat of his or her food even more as they tend to be creatures of habit.

Ultimately, however, if you are very worried about your cat and his or her appetite – or lack thereof – you should go to the vet immediately to talk through your worries. Vets will be the best source of knowledge not only on the food market and therefore the food stuffs available to you that might help, but also they will be able to give your cat a thorough check up to ensure that they have no medical reason to be off their food all of a sudden. Their lack of appetite could be a symptom of something more serious so if you are even a little bit worried, it is a good idea to pop in just to put your mind at rest. Your vet will be all too happy to help and it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our much loved pets.

Sources:

  1. How to Encourage Your Cat to Eat, wikiHow
  2. 7 Ways You’re Feeding Your Cat Wrong, Vetstreet
Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for MyPetNeedsThat.com, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!

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