Cats have a few reasons why they might be considered picky eaters. If you ever had a cat, you simply had to encounter situations in which your cat seemed spoiled and too picky with its food. Serving new food to your cat, which you know is a perfectly healthy food, and than watching as you cat smells it than turns away and ungratefully leaves, is usually nothing to be alarmed about. Before you get mad at your cat and start viewing it as a spoiled brat, we will give a clear insight into cats thought processes and biology when it comes to its eating habits. This way you will get a better understanding of your pets behavior and at the end of the article we will give you some tips and tricks to get your cat to eat the food you provide for it.
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Cats walking away from a full bowl of food are nothing new and surprising. Reasons for your cats annoying behavior such as declining new food or in some cases suddenly refusing to eat the same food it was happily eating for months, can be many. The second scenario in which a cat walks away from a food it is used to is a bit rarer and it can suggest a few thing happening in cats surroundings and in the cat itself, we will cover later in this article. But for now, we will focus on the first scenario and answer the question why won’t your cat eat perfectly good cat food bought from a pet store or something you cooked that you know cats can eat…
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One of the most common reasons for this behavior is a so called “neophobia”. Just like every other known phobia, neophobia manifests itself as a irrational fear, in case of neophobia fear is being triggered by something new and unfamiliar. This phenomenon Is common amongst human kids but recent studies show that it is quite common with cats as well. To put it simply, your cat is scared to try the new food that you presented to it. This Is no reason for you to think that your cat doesn’t trust you anymore. It is in fact a biologically based behavior. During evolution if a cat ate something new and it turned out to be poisonous or harmful for it, there would be a certain death waiting for it. So over time cats developed a defense mechanism which was making them way more cautious when it comes to tasting new food. Which means you can relax, your cat still trusts you and loves you, and you have nothing to do with its picky behavior In this scenario.
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The second most common reason cats leave their food bowls intact, is the nutritive value of the new food. Cats are hypercarnivores, meaning they are natural born hunters and usually over 70% of their diet consists of meat. For them to stay lean and agile as they are, they need to have a strictly balanced diet. Studies show that a perfect balance between meat and fat in cat food is 1,0 : 0.4 that way a cat gets enough energy both from protein and fat. And the most fascinating fact about this is that cats are aware of their balanced diet and you can’t trick them into breaking it. They can sense nutritive values within their food and if it doesn’t match their requirements, a cat will simply walk away. And if that is not fascinating enough for you, you can read about experiments in which cats eat a balanced food with an orange flavor, and leave the unbalanced food with a fish flavor. How cats sense the nutrient ratio within their food is still an unanswered question.
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And now lets talk about the third scenario in which a cat refuses to eat the food its already used to. Basically in this scenario you are influencing your pets behavior. Unlike in other two scenarios, this time a cat is trying to tell you something by declining food. Cats are one of the most stubborn creatures on the planet. Declining food it likes and is used to, in most case scenarios it's basically a hunger strike.
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A rebellious act to let you know that you changed something, and that it wants things back to how they were before. This change that your cat doesn’t like can be a lot of things. It could be a new feeding bowl, a feeding bowl in a different place, their water and food too close to each other… it can also be a new pet you got, perhaps a puppy or another cat. Most cats like eating alone, so if there is another cat or some other pet that tries to eat from the same feeding bowl at the same time, your cat might feel pressure and will stop eating from that bowl. Cats view their eating as a calm and peaceful part of the day, in natural circumstances cats eat their food only when they are 100% sure they are alone and there aren’t any predators around. Of course, your cat shouldn’t go more than 24 hours without eating, if that happens you should consider that this behavior might be a symptom of illness and take it to the veterinarian, but if it turns out your cat is not sick, there are a few tips and trick to get it to eat again.
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You can feed it rarer, if you wait for 6-12 hours your cat will surely be hungry and the probability of it eating the food is much greater. You can also pet them and play with them right before feeding so that you get them in a friendly mood and make them feel safe. Some other tricks include sprinkling some tuna or raw meat over the food you want them to eat or even some parmesan cheese that some cats find very appealing.
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