If you have been living with a cat for some time, you are probably well aware of its quirks and meticulous behaviors. And, while they have a strong disliking for change, cats can also get bored of eating the same food every day.
Just like us, our furry companions prefer some variety in their diet. Our whiskered friends are born with a palate that urges them to seek nutritional variety through hunting different forms of prey. This helps to ensure that they receive all their nutritional needs.
Unfortunately, most cat owners find it easier to feed their pets the same food every day, primarily for economical reasons. They may not realize that this failure to provide variety can lead to boredom and even allergies in their cats.
This post will explore why your furry companion refuses to eat, and what you can do to spice up her meal time.
Do cats get bored of eating the same food?
If you were given the same food for every meal, every day, you would likely soon get tired of the same flavors and textures. Well, just like humans, cats can also get bored of eating the same food every day.
Domestic cats cannot speak up if they are displeased with their food, leaving them no choice but to eat what is served in front of them. In reality, though, cats do care about the variety of food they eat. In their natural environment, our feline friends originally benefited from a variety of tastes and textures through hunting different prey – birds, insects, or rodents, for example.
Domesticated cats no longer need to hunt for food, and instead, rely on their owners for variety. A lack of variety in your cat’s diet might cause her to turn up her nose at meal times. If this is the case, you will need to find ways to spice up her food bowl.
How to know if your cat is bored of her food
One obvious sign that your furry friend is tired of eating the same food is when she ignores her food bowl.
Although cats do not appreciate change, they do like a bit of a change in their diet from time to time. To combat your cat’s food boredom, try changing up the flavors a little bit. If you have been feeding her tuna-flavored cat food, try liver or chicken flavors instead.
Most importantly, try to learn your cat’s favorite brand and stick with it, choosing other varieties or flavors of food from the same brand.
Food variety is important – this is why
As mentioned, most cats will appreciate a variety of textures and flavors in their food. A diverse diet will also ensure that your feline’s nutrition is well-balanced. Aside from the essential vitamins and minerals, a variety of food will also help boost her immune system and prevent the development of certain food allergies.
Keep in mind, though, that switching your cat’s food is not always that easy. Different cat foods contain different ingredients, tastes, and smells, and some cats respond well to a particular brand while others do not.
If you have been feeding your cat the same brand of food for a long time, then changing her food overnight will possibly cause vomiting and an upset stomach. Changing the food should be a gradual process: for best results, try introducing a new variety a few times a week until Fluffy gets used to the new flavors and smells.
Can you feed your cat dry food only?
Contrary to what many people believe, cats can be perfectly healthy with just dry food, provided these are nutritionally balanced. Cats generally do not mind eating dry food all the time, as long as they do not get bored of it.
Feeding your pet dry food only comes with several pros and cons. First and foremost, dry foods are economical and allow free feeding. They are also easier to use in treat-dispensing toys as a means of stimulating your feline companion.
The downside of dry foods is that your cat might not get enough fluid. We all know how cats ignore their water bowls most of the time; it can be difficult to force our kitties to drink, which increases their risk of dehydration.
While a dry food diet works fine for most cats, you need to make sure that your chosen brand provides all the nutrients to keep your feline healthy and happy. And, most importantly, make sure that your cat is well-hydrated by providing access to fresh, clean drinking water.
If your cat shows signs of food boredom, it may be best to consider mixing her dry food with wet food to introduce new tastes and textures.
Why has your cat stopped eating the same food?
There are a number of reasons your feline friend may suddenly tire of eating her regular meals. The root cause could be purely instinctual, or due to a health issue. If you notice a change in her eating habits but she is otherwise behaving normally, perhaps it is best to make some changes to her diet. However, if she shows other unusual symptoms, you should pay a visit to your vet.
Some of the common reasons your furry friend may be ignoring her food include the following:
1. Sensitive whiskers
Have you noticed your cat consuming only the center portion of the bowl and leaving the rest of the food around the edges? She might be experiencing whisker fatigue.
Most cat owners view whiskers as merely a physical trait, just like normal facial hair on humans. But the reality is that your kitty’s whiskers are much more complex than normal hair. Whiskers, or vibrissa, are connected to sensitive receptors deep under your cat’s skin and act as antennae.
Essentially, whiskers help your furry companion collect information about the environment, such as knowing how high she can jump from a tree or how close she is to a wall. And, there comes a point at which these tiny whiskers can experience fatigue due to overstimulation. When the whiskers are touched very frequently, such as brushing against a food bowl when the cat eats, your feline friend might start to feel stressed and uncomfortable.
The solution for sensitive whiskers is to change your cat’s food bowl for something smaller and more shallow, to prevent her whiskers from brushing against the sides of the bowl. Hopefully, the new whisker-friendly dish can help her get her appetite back.
2. Health issues
A number of health issues might be responsible for your cat’s altered eating behavior. It could be a simple toothache or something more serious like an infection or intestinal problems.
Aside from her sudden loss of appetite, make sure to look out for other symptoms. A poor appetite that extends for a couple of days, accompanied by symptoms such as lethargy and vomiting, could be caused by an underlying medical issue.
Otherwise, if this is the first time that your cat is not eating, she might just want you to change her food to something tastier.
3. Different smell
Cats are fastidious animals when it comes to smells, and this includes their food. Your furry friend might simply not like the smell of her food.
Just like humans, cats use their sense of smell to assess whether the food is appealing for them. It also helps them to know whether the food is safe to eat. Picky eaters like cats often have unique preferences for certain foods, so it will help if you can find the specific brand that your cat likes.
Perhaps your furry friend prefers foods with stronger aromas, or maybe she likes something milder. Keep in mind that the freshness of the food can also affect its smell. Cats with extremely sensitive noses can tell if the food has gone bad and they might refuse to eat it.
4. Feeling full
Cats have small stomachs, so it can be completely normal for them not to finish an entire bowl of food. That said, there are also some cats that cannot control their eating, depending on their temperament.
If you find some leftovers, it is quite possible that your cat will come back to finish her meal later.
Perhaps your cat is eating small meals each time due to her predatory instincts.
Out in the wild, cats’ eating behaviors are generally not dictated by hunger. Instead, they hunt their prey frequently throughout the day and eat whenever they have a catch. That means wild cats tend to eat small and frequent meals, several times a day.
These predatory instincts are deeply ingrained in most cats, even though they are domesticated. It is therefore important to provide your cat access to food throughout the day. She might not finish her bowl in one sitting, but she will definitely come back for more later on.
Is it okay to change your cat’s food?
Just like humans, cats do get bored of eating the same food every day. That is why it is very important to add a variety of textures and flavors to keep your cat interested and well-nourished. If your furry friend is used to eating dry cat food, it may be time to consider adding wet food to her regular diet.
Keep in mind, however, that such changes cannot happen overnight. Cats are hypersensitive to any change, not just in household routines but also in the taste and smell of their food. Most cats will experience an upset stomach if their regular food is suddenly changed.
So, before introducing a new food, make sure that the change is gradual. Also maintain the same feeding routine to keep your furry friend happy and content.
How to change your cat’s food
If you find Fluffy getting bored of her meals, try the following tips to smoothly adjust her diet:
1. Slow transition
Changing your cat’s diet must be a slow and consistent transition. Cats do not do well with sudden changes, and that includes food. Instead of a sudden change, slowly introduce a new brand of food over seven to ten days until your whiskered friend is able to make the necessary adjustments. Otherwise, she will likely suffer digestive issues due to the sudden switch.
Rather than throwing out your cat’s old food, gradually mix it with the new brand for several days. If your cat is used to eating dry food, slowly mix some of the old dry food with wet food.
Watch out for any signs of digestive distress such as vomiting or diarrhea. If your cat struggles with her new diet, stop feeding the new food immediately and switch back to her old food. Consult your vet before changing her food again.
2. Choose high-quality cat food
Choosing the right food for your furry companion can be overwhelming. On the bright side, having so many options on the market can also help you switch easily if your cat gets tired of her regular diet. No matter the brand, however, it is extremely important not to compromise on quality. Proper diet and nutrition play an important role in your cat’s well-being and minimize veterinary expenses due to serious medical issues.
Before making a switch, thoroughly research the new brand to find out whether it will meet your cat’s nutritional needs. Look at the ingredients as well as the reviews from other fur parents. If in doubt, you can ask your vet for advice as to which food will work best for Fluffy.
3. Make mealtimes interesting
Cats might sometimes get tired of their regular food because they do not find it stimulating.
Just like their wild ancestors, our domestic cats are born with predatory instincts – they are wired to hunt and chase their food. Since domesticated cats no longer need to work so hard to feed themselves, they might find their meals less interesting.
So, how can you make your cat’s meals more appealing?
We all know that our furry companions enjoy working for their food, so why not play with them before giving them their meals? Cats are intelligent animals and generally love being challenged, both mentally and physically.
Some good options include a cat maze, meal-dispensing toys, treat ball toys, or puzzle toys. Alternatively, you can get creative by hiding your cat’s favorite treats around the house. Fluffy will adore searching for tasty rewards and it will keep her more active. Just remember where you hid the treats so you can retrieve them if she does not find them before they spoil.
4. Mix wet and dry foods
Cats like to have different textures in their food, so if you have been feeding your cat dry food for a long time, it might be worth considering mixing in some wet food.
Also, cats are well known for disliking water as they are designed to get most of their fluids from their prey. Unfortunately, domesticated or indoor cats do not hunt for food, leaving them at greater risk of dehydration. Feeding your cat wet food will therefore also help to keep her hydrated.
Another advantage of mixing wet and dry foods is to save on costs. Wet foods tend to be more expensive and might not always be sustainable. On the other hand, dry foods are cheaper and more convenient. To get the best of both worlds, mix the dry and wet foods together and watch your kitty enjoy the variety.
However, as mentioned before, you must make this change gradual to prevent digestive issues. Start by giving her the mixed dry and wet food just a few times a week, changing it to daily depending on how she adjusts.
Most cats get bored of their food at some point, due to a lack of variety. To keep your furry companion healthy and happy at meal times, try to ensure that she experiences new tastes and textures to keep her interested in her food. If despite the added variety, she continues to be a picky eater, it is probably best to seek advice from your vet about the right diet or to rule out any underlying medical issues.
Image: istockphoto.com / Remains