Is your cat a finicky eater? Here are some tips to help get their appetite back, and to keep them at a healthy weight.
I will be talking about free feeding vs. feeding your cats at regularly scheduled times. Not all cats will be finicky eaters, but there are ways to prevent this from happening.
By leaving your cat’s food down all the time, this can create a finicky cat. When food is down all the time, your cat may start to turn its nose up at the food. Also, a food dish that is out all the time may be considered “dirty” to your cat, which is another reason they may be finicky. By feeding them in a clean bowl at every feeding, this prevents this problem. A clean water dish is also very important.
Feeding a cat by leaving food down all the time (free feeding) allows your cat to eat when they feel the need. This is sometimes a necessity as you may be very busy and out of the house for most of the day. If your cat is at a healthy weight, and is not a finicky eater, then you do not need to worry. You can continue free feeding, but just keep an eye on your cat to make sure they do not get overweight or stop eating.
Feeding your cats twice a day on a regular schedule is a healthier way to feed them, and it will help prevent finicky eaters. When your cat learns the schedule, they will look forward to their meal. Also, it is easier to notice any changes in your cats eating habits if you feed them at specific times of the day, and you have the ability to regulate the amount of food that they eat during the day. This way, you can adjust it accordingly if your cat’s weight fluctuates. And, if you do see that your cat has lost its appetite, then this may be a sign that they may be ill, and you can react more quickly and get them to the vet if needed.
Of course, feeding wet food at a regular schedule, but leaving the dish down if not eaten will create a foul smelling meal and bowl, which will create a cat that does not want to eat. If your cat does not eat its regular meal in a reasonable amount of time, pick it up and dispose of it. Do the same with dry food (you may not need to dispose of dry food, it depends on how finicky your cat is). This way, your cat will soon learn that in order to have a regular meal, they will need to eat their meal at feeding time.
Another thing to think about is keeping your cat’s meal consistant. Changing their food around and giving them variety actually can create a finicky cat. Find a food that your cat likes, and stay with that food. You may want a little food variety in your life, but your cat will be more than happy to eat the same meal day after day.
Kittens vs. Adults
Kittens need extra protein and extra calories than adults to support them as they grow. Your kittens need about two to three times as much food per pound of body weight than your adult cats do. For this reason, they should be fed at least twice per day, maybe even three to four times per day.
Adult cats should be fed twice daily for better health, and to create a cat that wants to eat. If you can, and if you want to try to get your cat on a regular schedule, remember to transition them over slowly. Even though they will be eating the same food, a quick transition from free feeding to a regular feeding schedule can upset your cat’s system. Start by picking up their free feed bowl for a few hours at a time, and gradually increase the time their food is up, until you are feeding them on a regular schedule only.
A finicky cat may not take to a new feeding schedule right away, and you may feel the need to go back to the old free feeding when your kitty does not eat for a few days (yes, this is a possibility). But stay strong and your cat will come around. If your cat is really finicky, and has not been eating by free feeding, and does not respond to a new feeding schedule either, then your cat may be ill and you should consult your veterinarian.