How to Get Finicky Cats to Eat


If you’ve read The Conscious Cat for any length of time, you know that cats should be eating a species-appropriate diet of raw, grain-free canned or properly balanced home-prepared food. Cats should never eat dry food, and the money you invest in high-quality, premium food will result in better health and lower vet bills for your feline family members. I’m always delighted when I hear from readers who have switched their cats from a low quality and/or dry diet to a healthier diet because of something they’ve read here on my site.

Sometimes, switching a kitty off the human equivalent of junk food can be challenging. Understanding why cats are finicky, and knowing how to safely make the switch to a healthier diet, or encouraging fussy cats to eat, is an important step toward better health for your cats.

What Makes Cats Finicky?

Rule out medical issues. Loss of appetite, especially when it comes on suddenly, can be an indicator of a series medical problem. When a previously healthy cats stops eating for more than 24-48 hours, this is cause for concern, and requires a veterinary visit. Cats can develop a condition called hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease, which can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

Finicky eaters are made, not born. Kittens who are fed a variety of foods after being weaned from their mother develop varied tastes. Those fed the same food all the time often refuse unfamiliar foods later in life. In addition to ensuring optimal nutrition and decreasing the risk of developing food allergies, feeding a rotation diet will expose cats to different proteins, textures and flavors, which makes them less likely to become finicky and stop eating. Additionally, if your cat eats one brand exclusively, and that brand changes its formula, or is recalled, you’ll find yourself without a ready alternative you know your cat will eat.

Do you have the right food bowls? Cats don’t like narrow or deep bowls. They don’t like it when their sensitive whiskers touch the side of the bowls. Plastic food bowls can give off smells that are offensive to sensitive feline noses, and they can also cause chin rashes in sensitive cats.

Cleanliness. Make sure your food bowls are kept scrupulously clean, but don’t use detergents with a strong scent to wash bowls and the area around the bowls.

Don’t mix medication into a full meal. While giving medications with food can work well, don’t mix it in with the cat’s regular food. Most medications alter the flavor of food, and even though your cat may eat the food with the medication mixed in the first few times, you may be inadvertently creating a food aversion. If you must use food to give medication, use a small amount of a different food, and then feed the cat’s regular meal.

Hard core dry food addicts. One reason why it can be so challenging to get a cat to accept healthier food is in part due to what pet food manufacturers do to make these dry food so enticing to cats. As part of the production process, the baked or extruded kibble is sprayed with animal digest (and yes, it’s pretty much as disgusting as it sounds: digest is material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolisis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue.) Cats love the taste of these digests; for some cats, it’s like kitty crack and actually causes them to be addicted. Some cats also love the texture of dry food and may resist the drastic change in texture from dry to grain-free canned or raw food.

How to Tempt Finicky Eaters

Go slow, and be patient. The key is to transition these hard-core dry food addicts is to go slow, and be patient. And you may need a few tricks up your sleeve. For some cats, it may take several months. I’ve heard of one cat whose human would put down a small amount of canned food next to his dry food every day for several weeks. He refused to touch it, so she wound up throwing it out each time. Then one day, several weeks into the transition, he gobbled up the raw food and never touched his dry food again!

Stop free choice feeding. If your cat is eating only dry food, and you leave food out at all times, stop this practice immediately. This step is critical. Feed twice a day, at set meal times, and take up what the cat doesn’t eat within about half an hour. She gets no other food until the next meal time. Your cat will not try anything new if you keep his bowl filled with the old, familiar food 24/7.

Be prepared that your cat will make you feel like you’re letting him starve. This phase of the process can be much harder on the human than it is on the cat. Persistence is key. A little hunger at meal times can be a powerful motivator to get a cat to accept the new food.

Gradually increase the amount of the new food, and decrease the amount of the old food, until you’re only feeding the new food.

Add some incentives to tempt finicky eaters.

  • Sprinkle freeze dried chicken or salmon on top.
  • Drizzle a little bit of tuna or clam juice drizzled over the food
  • Add small pieces of cooked cooked meat
  • Spread a spoonful of meat-based baby food (make sure it doesn’t contain onion powder) on top of the meal
  • Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the food (yes, the stuff in the green can)
  • Sprinkle nutritional yeast over the food
  • As a last resort, crush a small amount of kibble over the food

Minimize intestinal upset. Most people recommend to transition to a new food gradually, by reducing the amount of the old food and increasing the amount of the new food over a number of days to avoid upset stomach and soft stools. I’ve found that when transitioning to grain-free food, this is usually not an issue, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

I do recommend adding a good probiotic every day. I actually recommend this not just during the transition period, but as a lifelong immune system booster. Probiotics come in unflavored powders and can be mixed in with the food. I use Dr. Goodpet’s Feline Digestive Enzymes, a mix of enzymes and probiotics.

Dealing with a finicky cat can be frustrating, and it can take time and patience, but these tips should go a long way toward getting your kitty eating healthier food.

Photo: istockphoto

101 Comments on How to Get Finicky Cats to Eat

  1. Beck
    October 5, 2015 at 4:21 am (1 week ago)

    I hope you can help. I recued my Sphynx Prunella a year ago. When I brought her home she was eating Blue Buffalo and had stunky runny poop. She quickly transitioned to Rad Cat Raw chicken 2x a day w Natural Instincs raw kibble (her ultimate favourite) at night as a snack to keep her from waking us up. Poops were solid & all was well. Last April she stopped eating her raw and after much research I started her on 2 Tiki Cat Chicken or Turkey cans a day. Then slowly started incorporating her raw back in as her dinner.
    That was working perfectly until 2 weeks ago. She was in the ER for 2 days after a reaction to a new med. then she began refusing to eat. After several days of supportive care and 1 can of baby food, the vet finally gave her Hills Urgent Care canned. A high calorie, highly palatable food used in extreme conditions, along with an anti nausea pill. Awesome! She started eating again. But now, she won’t eat anything else! I put out her normal meals (raw, Tiki, kibble snack) out and she doesn’t even look. I’ve put the old foods in the same bowl w the vet food & she eats around it. I’ve tried sprinkles, chicken stock everything I can think of.
    It is important to keep her on a grain, veggie & carrageenan free diet. Do you have any more advice? She isn’t really picky, she just doesn’t really care about eating. I put out her food & she checks it out & eats it later. Maybe she is interested in a pate style food. I just haven’t found one that would fit the bill. I know I cannot allow her to stay on this Urgent Care food for more then a few days.

    • Ingrid
      October 5, 2015 at 9:17 am (1 week ago)

      Merrick has a new line of limited ingredient pate style foods out that are carrageenan free. I believe Ziwi Peak also took the carrageenan out of their formulas, and they’re pate style, so that may be an option for you as well. Have you tried nutritional yeast as an incentive yet? It seems to work wonders for some cats.

  2. Matthew
    August 9, 2015 at 4:10 pm (2 months ago)

    I tried to get my cat to eat wet food but he is so stubborn and he would just walk away every single time. He would rather starve himself than eating wet food. I have tried a few tricks like mixing dry with so little portion of wet, starve him for a bit(for about 12 hours), but they did not work at all. I even tried to just place a very small amount of canned food right next to the dry food, not mixing it but just right next to it, he would walk away when he smelled the food, by that I mean he did not eat the dry food too! Then I decided to start from the beginning and set meal times for his dry food meal first(I had been free feeding him for 9 years)…but the thing is he eats so little every meal. I am very worried because he is consuming so much less than he used to be(about 1/3) and his weight has dropped to7.3kg from 7.5kg in 5 days. He is an obese cat and I am really worried. I really don’t know if I should try for a few more days or adopt other ways…I really need help on this :(

    • Ingrid
      August 9, 2015 at 4:45 pm (2 months ago)

      Has your cat had a checkup recently, Matthew? With an obese cat, you really have to be careful since he’s at risk for hepatic lipidosis if he stops eating.

      Here’s more help on weaning a cat off dry food – but please get your boy checked out by your vet as soon as possible:

      • Matthew
        August 9, 2015 at 6:56 pm (2 months ago)

        Yes, he is healthy in general except the overweight problem and a little bit dehydrated. The vet suggested the transition but I just do not know how to implement it in the right way. My cat never really finished the food all at once because of free feeding. He usually ate a little amount but would eventually finish off the bowl. However I am just frustrated that even I started to set the schedule, he still consumes this little amount..

  3. Carolyn
    May 1, 2015 at 12:41 am (6 months ago)

    I adopted my 6 year old female cat from the spca. She has had a bladder stone and urinary tract problems. I was feeding her both dry and wet food (blue wilderness, organix and wellness) and now the vet wants me to feed her Hills CD food dry and wet. She doesn’t like any of it. I am going to put her back on good canned food, grain free and quit the dry food. Do you think this will be enough to stop more Urinary tract problems? Thanks

    • Ingrid
      May 1, 2015 at 6:10 am (6 months ago)

      Eliminating the dry food will definitely help her urinary tract problems, Carolyn. I would discuss supplementation to acidify or alkalanize the urine with your vet. It will depend on the type of stones your cat had as to what the urinary ph target is. Given that your vet recommended Hill’s c/d, he/she may not be open to that approach, and you may need to work with a holistic vet.

      • Kelli
        May 1, 2015 at 9:21 am (6 months ago)

        Ingrid –

        What do you think if Carolyn would add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to her cat’s water a couple times a week? It worked for two of mine.

      • Carolyn
        May 1, 2015 at 11:17 am (5 months ago)

        Thanks for your response. I will try talking to the vet and see if they are open to this approach.

  4. Kelli
    April 23, 2015 at 2:55 pm (6 months ago)

    My cat was diagnosed with stomatitis. It came on very quickly. Since we adopted her 8 years ago, we’ve tried every day to give her a little canned food, or freshly cooked meat. (Her litter mate loves all of this.) To this day, she absolutely despises real meat… denies it and reacts the same as if I offered her hard-core minty toothpaste.

    I don’t know what to do, and am afraid that the healing time after having her teeth pulled may kill her if she won’t eat. I’ll probably have to force-feed her some high-protein broth.

    In fact, I’m thinking of starting this now, hoping she may acquire a taste for it.

    I’m absolutely desperate for any suggestions not listed in your post – or, if you agree that I should start force-feeding before it’s time for surgery.

    • Ingrid
      April 23, 2015 at 3:14 pm (6 months ago)

      You may be surprised how well she will be eating after she has her remaining teeth pulled, Kelli. Once the pain is gone, she may be far more inclined to eat than she is now.

      One thing I didn’t mention in this post is nutritional yeast. It works really well to entice some cats to eat:

      Force feeding is rarely a good idea, especially not with a cat who has mouth issues. You may want to discuss a feeding tube with your vet. You can find great information about feeding tubes on Dr. Pierson’s site:

      • Kelli
        April 23, 2015 at 3:53 pm (6 months ago)

        Ingrid – Thank you so much for your quick response! I’m concerned about the nutritional yeast, considering she probably has IBD as well. I’m assuming it may be different than regular yeast (which isn’t good for an IBD kitty)?

        So sad that Peanut got the Depo shot and it lasted only 1 month… which means she’ll need her teeth pulled. She’s been on Bio-Dent, and I started her today on B-complex, slippery elm, and CoQ10.

        When I suggested force feeding her, I meant only broth. Hopefully she can get some good nutrition, and she can see that the flavor isn’t as bad as the aroma may be to her.

        She only stopped eating this morning at 8 am… but, she’s drooling. It doesn’t sound that bad, but she’s the one who eggs the others on to beg for a meal every flinging half hour.

        I’ve bookmarked the nutritional yeast page you suggested, and will talk with my vet tonight.

        Thank you again, Ingrid!

      • Kelli
        April 27, 2015 at 12:45 pm (6 months ago)

        Ingrid –

        I just wanted to give you an update:

        We’ve linked a probable culprit to why our cats have been getting sick since February: their food. That’s when we had changed to a ‘Hairball Formula’ (won’t say brand… but it starts with a ‘P’).

        I sooo want to say the brand, because there are many online complaints about them within the past couple years.

        We have now switched to grain-free – different brand.

        Peanut has reacted incredibly well to the concoctions we’ve given her in the past few days (B Complex, CoQ10, Slippery Elm, very low dosage of Pepcid). I’d say she’s about 80% her normal self.

        Also, our others aren’t constantly hungry, and seem very satisfied after their meals.

        We had asked the vet about the nutritional yeast. He agreed with you that it absolutely stimulates the appetite, but he didn’t want to give me a definite yes or no because of her stomatitis.

        He also agreed that B Vitamins (in small doses) stimulate appetite.

        • Ingrid
          April 27, 2015 at 1:14 pm (6 months ago)

          I’m so glad Peanut is doing better. Thank you for sharing your suspicion about the food.

          • Kelli
            July 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm (3 months ago)

            I wanted to give you an update on Peanut.

            We kept up with that concoction, along with force-feeding her droppers full of pureed beef / egg /or chicken, and having the grain-free dry food available for her – making sure it was always fresh. We only did the yeast for 2 days because her stomach was touchy.

            Incredibly important, I think, is that I brushed and massaged her every day. My theory is that the less mobile they are, the stiffer and more uncomfortable they get.

            We tapered off the extra stuff after a little while. BioDent was kept the same.

            At about the 3 week point, Peanut started eating again without coercion.

            At nearly 9-years-old, she suddenly has a great liking for real meat and egg.

            I truly believe it’s because of force-feeding her.

            When I say ‘force-feeding’, it isn’t as if I crammed this into her mouth… but, just about a dropper full, a few times a day. And that was given VERY slowly to make sure she was swallowing every bit, and not inhaling it.

            She no longer has signs of stomatitis, but we’re not getting our hopes up, and won’t consider stopping the BioDent.

            Thank you for having this blog, and for all the info you’ve given.

          • Ingrid
            July 1, 2015 at 4:33 pm (3 months ago)

            Thank you for the update, Kelli. I’m glad Peanut is doing so well!

    • Anne
      April 27, 2015 at 3:06 pm (6 months ago)

      I have a cat who is almost 17 yrs old and lately he has become finicky. He will only eat a small amt of the wet he has been eating awhile…I have tried other brands but still wont embrace, become real finicky with dry too. He has always been small but is a bit skinnier now. Cries for food but doesnt like anything lately I give him…any ideas?

      • Ingrid
        April 27, 2015 at 3:29 pm (6 months ago)

        Has he had a check up recently, Anne? I’d be very concerned if he’s noticeably thinner. There may be an underlying health issue that is causing him to be so finicky.

  5. Rita
    April 17, 2015 at 2:18 pm (6 months ago)

    I think it is cruel to deny food to your cat. I have read that if a cat does not like the food,it will go without.

    • Ingrid
      April 17, 2015 at 2:21 pm (6 months ago)

      Nobody is suggesting to deny food to a cat. You are absolutely correct that some cats will refuse to eat if they don’t like a food, which is why the article cautions cat guardians that a cat who refuses to eat for more than 24-48 hours requires veterinary attention.

  6. Emerald B
    January 2, 2015 at 7:40 am (9 months ago)

    Is blue buffalo wet canned food a good food to switch to? I was feeding him an all natural kibble and he seemed fine for the most part. But occasionally he would get sick with what us IBS in humans and would have to get steroid shots. I got a few cans of the blue buffalo wet food but before I make the full switch I want to make sure it’s safe and good. The can says 100% grain free and 95% of the kind of meat ie: duck, salmon and chicken. Also how many cans per day? He’s about 20 lbs.

  7. Marianne
    December 15, 2014 at 9:34 am (10 months ago)

    My cats wont eat their wet food when I add the probiotics. I can’t return it so I want to make use of it. Any ideas how I can get them to eat it ?

    • Ingrid
      December 15, 2014 at 9:53 am (10 months ago)

      Have you tried all the tips in this post, Marianne? You can put the probiotic powder in a gel cap and give it that way, but I don’t recommend it since most cats hate to be pilled.

  8. Mitzi
    November 19, 2014 at 6:39 pm (11 months ago)

    Our 4 year old siamese girl has been through the transition like a dream, and was on raw only for a week. Now in the past few days she barely sniffs her dinner before she walks away from it. She does however eat when we offer her a chicken neck or treats. Her sister eats her dinner every single time so I am not convinced it’s the food itself… Whenever I sprinkle her treats on it she just looks at me as if she’s saying ‘great now you’ve ruined my treat!’ I’m a bit lost how to get her back on her meals, I feel like we’ve tried everything on this page and she just won’t be convinced….

  9. Penny Gupta
    November 19, 2014 at 10:31 am (11 months ago)

    Is it common for a cat to like one canned food and than dislike the food. Our Doobie liked a particular food with salmon but now prefers the other kind. I tend to have to change her food variety. Is this common?

    • Ingrid
      November 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm (11 months ago)

      It is common, Penny.That’s why it’s a good idea to feed a variety of flavors and brands so cats don’t get stuck on any one single food.

  10. Kimber
    November 9, 2014 at 9:44 pm (11 months ago)

    Update, after another day of having to force feed her I took her back to the vet & her liver panel was way out of wack. Had to rush her to a specialist & they put a feeding tube in her. It’s been 6 full days now of a feeding tube & she still does not feel very well. I think right now I am battling her upset tummy. She shows interest in food but starts licking her lips as if she is going to be sick. So we have a long road ahead of us & another check up tomorrow. Wish us luck & keep her in your prayers

    • Deborah
      November 10, 2014 at 2:02 am (11 months ago)

      Hi Kimber,
      One of my kitties is just recovering from exploratory abdominal surgery to diagnose what is probably cancer. She has not been eating well for some time and her weight loss was the first indication she wasn’t well. You mentioned you thought your kitty might have an upset tummy…that was one of the best pieces of advice we’ve gotten from our vet, that cats who don’t eat well often generate excess stomach acid and this makes them nauseous (and then they eat even less). While we were waiting for surgery day we started our kitty on Pepcid AC – and it really perked her up, she ate more than she had in a long time. While you are figuring out your kitty’s underlying issues it might be worth asking your vet about Pepcid.

      Best of luck, hope your kitty gets better!

      • Kimber
        November 10, 2014 at 3:50 pm (11 months ago)

        Thanks for the advice I’m at the vet now & will ask! Thanks for the well wishes everyone.

    • Ingrid
      November 10, 2014 at 7:06 am (11 months ago)

      I’m so sorry, Kimber. All my best to both of you!

    • Datdamwuf
      November 10, 2014 at 10:41 am (11 months ago)

      I am so sorry, Sending good energy for a fast recovery.

  11. emme
    October 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm (12 months ago)


    I know exactly what you are going through! I have the world’s pickiest cat! I’ve tried all the foods you listed, and she has eaten all of them -once! Then she tires of them and I have to find something new. Thank goodness PetsMart and PetCo are so good about taking returns even when the can has been opened (as long as there is at least half of the food left, so this should help you save some money)!

    I have found that if I add a tiny bit of sardines (I buy the kind packed in water), and mix it into the food, the smell alone will entice her enough to plow through her food. Sometimes that’s all she needs, as it’s really the encouragement to get her near the food in the first place. I have also noticed that at times I actually have to bring the plate of food over to her, as it seems as if she’s forgotten where her dining area is. Once she sees/smells her food, she will follow the plate back to the “table” (haha), and chow down.

    I hope this helps – I certainly know how it feels to worry about your babies!

  12. Kimber
    October 27, 2014 at 2:14 pm (12 months ago)

    I am at my wits end. I have changed all of my cats food from dry to canned about 6 months ago. The transition was very smooth, so easy in fact I was a little scared. Well now my nightmare begins; I started all of my cats on Hounds and Gatos canned cat food, while one of my most picky eaters did not like the flavors the others cats loved I was able to get her to eat the chicken. Now no one is eating the food, I have tried every canned cat food out there. I have skipped meals to make sure they were hungry, I’ve tried fish flavors, tried heating it up, serving cold, adding water, tonight I will try Sprinkle parmesan cheese on the food. I don’t know what to do I can’t go back to dry food, my picky eater suffers from crystal & she is not able to eat hard food anymore. My cats are losing weight since the change & for some this is a good thing but for my picky princess who I swear thinks she is a glamor girl this is not ideal. This hiccup is coasting me $100’s a month just trying to get them to eat, I need help in a big way & fast. FYI, all cats have had a checkup & are in good health, so they are just being butt heads to the MAX.

    Canned food I have tried ( all flavors)
    Hounds & Gatos
    natural choice
    natural balance
    life stages
    purfect bistro
    pro plan
    fancy feast
    Nature’s Variety
    max cat

    Please help me I am pulling my hair out & not sure how much longer I can go to bed knowing my babies are hungry.


    • Ingrid
      October 27, 2014 at 2:31 pm (12 months ago)

      I don’t really have any other suggestions beyond what I already covered in the article, Kimber. The best you can do is keep trying. If your cats stop eating altogether, contact your vet.

    • DatdamWuf
      November 9, 2014 at 4:24 pm (11 months ago)

      Please try Fortiflora by Purina, it’s a probiotic but it contains the same flavoring they use in their dry food, what I call “kitty crack”. This worked for my cats, you just sprinkle it on the food. You can get from the vet but it’s cheaper online.

      One other thing, people have the idea that cats like variety, most of them really don’t. My cats are picky about what they’ll eat too, once I find one they like I stick with it. Right now I feed my cats the same two kinds of canned food every day. Two kinds because each of them likes a different one better than the other, heh.

      Good luck!

      • Ingrid
        November 9, 2014 at 5:45 pm (11 months ago)

        Fortiflora is fine as a temporary solution, but since it contains animal digest, it’s not a good longterm choice. And feeding the same food day after day actually creates finicky cats, as explained in the article.

        • Datdamwuf
          November 9, 2014 at 6:27 pm (11 months ago)

          I wasn’t suggesting using the Fortiflora forever, just to get them liking a new food, it’s what I use it for, sorry for the confusion. I just read your rotation diet and one of your suggestions is basically what I do. They get a different food in the morning than from the evening. I buy new/different grain free canned foods occasionally and see if they like them, if they do that goes into the rotation. What I run up against is that there are very few FISH FREE canned foods available. So essentially, the foods I’m willing to feed them are limited to chicken, duck, rabbit. They do like a Core mix that has some venison. I found out the hard way that feeding them a single can of food with fish in it will immediately cause them to turn up their noses at anything lacking fish.

          • Ingrid
            November 10, 2014 at 7:09 am (11 months ago)

            You are so right about the fish flavored foods, and it’s so frustrating!

  13. magdelyn
    August 22, 2014 at 11:39 pm (1 year ago)

    I’m just switching to raw, with a little canned wet to entice. the problem is for these 3 days so far, no poop. and only one pee a day. i added cat grass for the constipation and will see tomorrow if it worked. i feel like it’s important they poop by tomorrow morning. should they be peeing more than once a day, also? anyone know?

    • Ingrid
      August 23, 2014 at 6:44 am (1 year ago)

      Cats who eat raw food will have smaller, drier and less frequent stools. I am concerned, though, that you’re only seeing urine once a day – that’s a bit unusual. You don’t mention how long ago you switched to raw, but since raw food is higher in moisture than dry, you should be seeing more frequent urination, not less. If your cat hasn’t had a veterinary check up recently, this may be a good time to get her seen by your vet.

    • Sarah
      September 7, 2015 at 11:03 am (1 month ago)

      One of my cats had issues with constipation.

      I was told by my vet, that a cat should be having a bowel movement daily.

      You can mix pure pumpkin into your cats food, as it acts as a laxative. I would give my cat 1/4 tsp per day. Your cat may not love pumpkin though ;).

      The other option is to dissolve a laxative powder in water, and then mix that into their food. Restoralax or Laxaday is good (the human stuff, you can buy it in any pharmacy section). I would give my cat 1/8-1/4 tsp (dry powder, then dissolved into water) daily; adjusting depending on the softness of his stool.

      I ended up using many the laxative powder over pumpkin, as my cat was not fond of the pumpkin.

      • Ingrid
        September 7, 2015 at 1:55 pm (1 month ago)

        Not all cats will have daily bowel movements; it depends on the type of diet you feed. I don’t recommend laxative powders – if a cat requires daily use of those, I would investigate the reason for this, as it is not normal.

  14. Heather
    July 28, 2014 at 1:58 pm (1 year ago)

    After five years of trying different foods for my ‘picky cats’ I have recently found the secret to getting them to eat what ever food I put in the bowl – I moved their food dishes!

    I moved the dishes to separate areas in the dining room. They are in corners, so not one walks behind/beside them. Shadow has emptied his bowl every meal for the past week! He has also eaten food he previously would not eat.

    As for treats, I buy freeze dried turkey, but in the dog size bag as it is so much cheaper than the cat ones. The pieces are bigger, but I just break them up.

    • Ingrid
      July 28, 2014 at 2:02 pm (1 year ago)

      Brilliant move, Heather!

  15. emme
    July 27, 2014 at 5:53 pm (1 year ago)

    my baby, soulee, was just diagnosed with diabetes, at age 15. she has been eating canned food for a couple of years, but i supplement with dry food as she is extremely picky (she will go 4-5 days without eating any wet food!). after eating one of the large cans of the very expensive prescription stuff the vet sold me, she will no longer eat that. she will also no longer eat any chicken that i cooked for her (roasted or boiled). she did eat last night, so i’m not too panicked yet (ok, i am a little), but i really need some alternative canned foods that i can feed her aside from the food that the vet has recommended. My cat will only eat chicken and turkey!
    thanks so much!

      • emme
        July 27, 2014 at 7:07 pm (1 year ago)

        ingrid, first of all, thank you for responding so quickly! i will definitely look into the foods you have suggested. i finally got my girl to eat a small amount of the canned food the vet sold me by crushing up two pieces of the forbidden (gasp!) dry kibble and sprinkling it over the moist food. i felt that it was a small sacrifice in order to get her to eat something!
        can i ask where you got your information/knowledge to try the brands that you suggested? when i have tried to check out the ingredients listed on cans of cat food, they all list % of protein but never carbs, even on the hills prescription diet that i got from the vet.
        thanks again for all your help! : )

        p.s. are there any “treats” that you suggest? soulee does love her treats (i know, it’s my fault – i spoil her way too much). i have found freeze-dried chicken and turkey, but that’s really expensive, and i don’t think she’s overly fond of it (not to mention my budget).

        thanks! thanks! thanks!

        • Ingrid
          July 28, 2014 at 6:30 am (1 year ago)

          The brands I recommend are brands I either feed my own cats or would feed my own cats, and the selection is based on thorough research by me. You are right that carbs are not listed on petfood labels, but it’s not that hard to calculate approximate carbohydrate contents. Simply add all of the listed nutrients and subtract the total from 100% – this will give you a fairly accurate number.

          I don’t recommend treats other than freeze-dried chicken or turkey. I know it’s more expensive, but look for online sales and buy in bulk, that will help your budget.

      • emme
        July 28, 2014 at 9:42 am (1 year ago)


        thanks once again. your info is making me feel as if there might be a light at the end of this very dark tunnel. i’ve have been up most of the night with my girl who has been begging for something to eat, but will not eat anything i’m offering. i will go to the store as soon as i can!

        you are a lifesaver!

  16. Margie
    March 14, 2014 at 10:17 pm (2 years ago)

    Leo is a 3 yr old male that was recently diagnosed with crystals even tho I was giving him a grain free diet almost all his life. I think it was the nutritional yeast that I sprinkled on his food (that he got totally spoiled with and wouldn’t eat anything without it) that added the imbalance of magnesium and caused the crystals.

    He’s had a touch and go with recovery because about 1 1/2 weeks I let him back outside and a day or two later he started throwing up dramatically (5 times in a day and a half) and became extremely dehydrated. I switched vets to a holistic vet and she agrees with me that we need to get him switched over to a raw diet and OFF that nasty and unhealthy c/d diet. Her recommendations were 24 hours on a bland boiled chicken diet and no c/d for that time because she suspected this might be a contributor to his vomiting. He actually tolerated this and with some homeopathic remedies he made a dramatic turn around. He was so hungry but not really eating the chicken the next day so I gave him some (small amount) of the c/d and the next morning he was vomiting again. So no more c/d!!

    But that makes it so hard because he won’t eat ANYTHING. No canned, and I can’t give him any dry because it’s too high in mag. The ONLY thing he’ll eat is wheatgrass. I bought some to juice and he was really interested so I gave him some and he was begging for more. I was afraid to give him too much because I’ve always seen this as a way that cats employ to vomit. But I know that greens are very healthy for you.

    He’s playing, drinking, peeing, sleeping and bored as heck to stay inside, but I’m keeping him in till I’m sure he’s out of health danger.

    Any tips for transitioning since we can’t “go slow” from an old to a new food?

    • Ingrid
      March 15, 2014 at 5:29 am (2 years ago)

      Have you tried all the tips outlined in this article? Since he seems to love wheatgrass so much, have you tried sprinkling some over his food?

      • Margie
        July 28, 2014 at 3:25 pm (1 year ago)

        Ingrid, thank you for getting back to me on this. I was so worried about it all but I want to report that all three of my kitties, including Leo, have successfully transitioned to a raw food diet. AND they all LOVE it.

        The plain bland chicken worked well for Leo for about 10 days or so, then I started mixing in raw meat. I got lots of help from the gal at Pet Barn. It seemed touch and go for a while because while Leo had his issues to deal with, his mother had been having increasing issue with her kibble (same has his before he got the crystals). I think it was an allergy to grains.

        ALL the mixtures of raw foods and even the vitamin supplements suggested for raw food diets had some level of grain: rice bran or something. Now that I mix just the chubs of raw meat (with ground bone) and a spoonful of Health Force “Green Mush” (GMO free, raw, organic, for animals) and some ground seaweed (for taurine) They are happy and barf free kitties!

        I’ve also since my last post, discovered that Leo’s crystals likely came from him sneaking over to my neighbors yard and eating the bread he’d set out for the birds and squirrels. I talked with him and even offered to buy bird seed (cuz bread isn’t healthy for them or the squirrels) and he wouldn’t let me. He was stubborn and only wanted to put the bread out. The holistic vet said that this was likely a main source of how he might’ve gotten those crystals. But it’s hard to be sure because I don’t know how much he was eating. Then my nasty neighbor said he was going to “shoot and kill” my cats if they got in his yard again. Ugh…

        So after contacting the police and other authorities, I’ve since built a cat fence on top of my existing fence, and keep my kitties in. It’s actually the better solution. So far, only a few slips out but it’s working. And now that everyone is on the raw food, they’ve lost weight, feel better, and no more barfing (unless they eat a gopher or something!).

        Anyway, thanks for the feedback.

        OH, and I learned that wheat grass would have been fine. I was afraid to give him too much because I thought that it might make him barf more, but I’ve learned that wheat grass has a smooth blade, whereas the grass that makes them barf has little “teeth” and THAT causes them to barf. But wheat grass is perfectly fine!!

        • Ingrid
          July 28, 2014 at 3:50 pm (1 year ago)

          Thanks for the update, Margie. That’s really interesting about your vet thinking that the bread might have been the source of the crystals. And how awful about your neighbor threatening to kill your cats, but it sounds like in the end, building a cat fence for them will keep them safe and happy and you won’t have to worry.

  17. Helene Rosenzweig
    February 22, 2014 at 1:20 pm (2 years ago)

    My Sami was eating pate when I brought her home at 6 weeks. Then she quit eating the pate and she went on to shreds. I also put out dry . Was eating shreds and now she’s ignoring it. I was thinking of switching brands but I’m gonna try some of your tips like add parmeson cheese and put it in a wider bowl. Hope it works. Helene

    • Ingrid
      February 22, 2014 at 5:36 pm (2 years ago)

      Let me know how Sami does, Helene.

  18. Tami Amburn
    February 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm (2 years ago)

    I have to try the parm cheese for Cali. She is kidney and comes and goes with her eating. I agree that we make them picky eaters and its very hard to change once it done. You forgot to mention heating up slightly in microwave to entice them some.

    Very interesting comments tho.

    • Pam
      February 19, 2014 at 8:59 pm (2 years ago)

      I feed wet and dry….My fur boy,Sosa is used to dry and enjoys it so I give him some but a small amount. My fur girl, Clawdeen isn’t that crazy about dry food. What I do with the wet food is add a small amount of water to it to “gravy” it…and I always heat the wet food for a few seconds in the microwave. I figure I don’t like cold food so why should they.Put it on a plate, heat it and then put it in the bowls. So far no kidney issues…both pee fine….

  19. Sam
    January 6, 2014 at 7:15 am (2 years ago)


    How would I entice my cat that has just had surgery on Thursday the 2nd to eat some small amounts of food regularly? She went from being overweight to skin and bones eating her kitty litter. First trip to the vet had blood work and it came back normal. She was diagnosed with stress. She was sent home then after a few more weeks she went back on Christmas eve to vet. He ordered a ultrasound. This found a blockage (tumor). So her surgery involved taking out the tumor part of her bowel and joining her small intestine to large. Major surgery and then three days of vet care. Its cost me a fortune and also her tumor has been sent off, they believe she has lymphoma. I’m praying she doesn’t.
    Sorry for the long rant however since she is skin and bones I need her to eat small meals regularly to get her strength up and put on weight.
    Ive offered all sorts of foods however she has only eat minimal lamb mince once at 8am and once at 8pm. Its stressing me and making our family fall apart as im so concerned for her and neglect everyone else.
    Please help any way you can.
    Much appreciated

    • Ingrid
      January 6, 2014 at 8:06 am (2 years ago)

      I’m sorry about your kitty. If you’ve already tried all the suggestions in the article, and none of them are getting your cat to eat, you may need to talk to your vet about a feeding tube.

  20. Lisa
    January 2, 2014 at 2:35 pm (2 years ago)

    Great article Ingrid, I’ll have to try the parm cheese for my little Miss Molly as I’d like to get her on raw . She’ll eat air dried or freeze dried raw but nothing from the freezer. Mikey loves raw but bc of Molly, she’s holding us up for a full transition. They eat mostly ZiwiPeak canned. Btw, I enjoyed meeting you at the Col Square holiday market, brr! Keep up the great work and best for 2014!

    • Ingrid
      January 2, 2014 at 3:11 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks, Lisa, and Happy New Year to you! It was a pleasure to meet you in NYC, despite the cold! Let me know whether the parmesan cheese works for Miss Molly.

  21. Susan
    December 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm (2 years ago)

    One of my cats suddenly developed diabetes. I switched him to low carb high protein canned food (Evo) along with 2 insulin shots a day and in 2 1/2 weeks he is in remission. He will never eat dry again. I have a multiple cat household and only 1 is giving me a problem to the switch over from dry to canned. I will try the Parmesan cheese tonight and see if that helps with her.

    • Ingrid
      December 9, 2013 at 1:24 pm (2 years ago)

      That’s wonderful that your cat went into remission after 2 1/2 weeks. Let me know if the Parmesan cheese works for your holdout, Susan.

  22. Queenieee
    July 25, 2013 at 9:43 pm (2 years ago)

    I hope I”m not a terrible cat mom for what I’m about to tell you…but if what I’ve been doing is wrong, I certainly want to stop. I go deep sea fishing and last year when I got my three new babies, the youngest (and most feral) would steal the skin strips that identify the type of fish it was after I’d taken if off during freezing, and he would eat it. It was a fairly small strip. It was ocean fresh and had little (if any) actual raw fish on it. Since then, I’ve given him “treats” when I go fishing of fresh fish skin that has raw fish meat still attached…is this a bad thing??

      • Queenieee
        July 26, 2013 at 4:46 pm (2 years ago)

        Thank you…I read the article, and the fish I’m feeding wouldn’t fit into any of those categories as they are fresh caught, wild, (mostly) rock fish such red snapper, grouper, blue bass, chuckle heads, etc. Again, they are NOT farmed, they are caught wild off Channel Island National Park. My concern was the fact that I was feeding them RAW meat, even though it wasn’t a large amount or often, for some reason, I became concerned about potential parasites. As long as I don’t have to worry about parasites, I will continue my practice, since I seldom fish more than once a month. If I’m extremely lucky, I go twice a month,but that’s very rare. I guess I’ll just consider my cats lucky to get royal treatment to be able to get fresh, raw fish occasionally!! Thanks for your help.

  23. Clare
    July 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm (2 years ago)

    How long is it ok to leave out wet food, i accidently forgot to take it up one night and he had it eaten in the morning, meanwhile if i gave him fresh wet in the am he would not eat it, he is trying to detox from kibble for 7 years but is slowly getting there, its very hard and i worry that he is not eating enough, he is also agitated and not as relaxed and playful as when he was on dry kibble, he wants to eat grass so i cannot let him out to lounge on the chairs in the sun like he used to,

    its a fustrating process no doubt

    • Datdamwuf
      August 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm (2 years ago)

      I hope it’s OK too, I leave canned food out all the time and they seem to like it “aged” better, been doing it for years so pretty sure it’s not an issue. after all a wild cat will bury food and come back to it later so I just figured it would be fine.

  24. Sarah
    July 25, 2013 at 8:10 pm (2 years ago)

    As a vet tech, I have a couple of other bits of advice for you all. Canned food is good for cats – particularly males – as it has a lot of moisture and this will help cats prone to Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease or urinary cystitis. But, cats do tend to gain weight on canned food, so be sure not to over-feed. Also, canned food can make your cat more prone to tarter buildup and dental disease. I recommend brushing your cat’s teeth (pet toothpaste, never human stuff) or at least using a dental water additive to help prevent tarter.
    Finally, never ever EVER let your cat go more than a day without eating. Unlike people and dogs, cats absolutely cannot tolerate missing meals (fasting) – they will quickly develop a life-threatening condition called “hepatic lipidosis”, which is a very serious liver issue. Gradual changes to the diet, as described above, is a must. With finicky dogs, it’s ok to let them not eat until they are hungry enough to eat what it is you offer them, but you cannot do that with cats.

    • Ingrid
      July 26, 2013 at 6:38 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you for sharing your advice, Sarah. I disagree with you on two points: in my experience, most cats actually loose weight once they start eating only canned food. Dry food is too high in carbohydrates, and that tends to encourage weight gain. As for canned food making cats more prone to dental disease, that myth just won’t die, and unfortunately, many vets continue to perpetuate it. The animal digest that dry food is coated with to increase palatability (and yes, it’s just as disgusting as it sounds) leaves a residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages the growth of tartar and plaque. As for the theory that dry food scrapes tartar off teeth, most cats don’t chew their kibble long enough for any of the scraping action that is the theory behind this myth to kick in. What little they do chew shatters into small pieces. Some pet food manufacturers offer a “dental diet” that is made up of larger than normal sized kibble to encourage chewing, but in my years at veterinary practices, I’ve seen many cats swallow even those larger size pieces whole. Your recommendation to brush is great – it’s the only way to prevent tartar – and it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds.

  25. Shavonne
    July 25, 2013 at 7:15 pm (2 years ago)

    My cat eats hardly anything no matter what I try to feed her, but she drinks a lot. She doesn’t lose nor gain any weight, and she acts very normal; the vet said there was nothing wrong with her to pinpoint why she eats so little and drinks so much. Her main diet is dry kitty kibble, but I mix in wet canned food every couple of days which she enjoys; I simply can’t afford an all wet food diet for her. I’ve tried moistening the kibble with this cat “gravy” I found at PetSmart which supposedly has vitamin supplements in it- nothing. I’ve tried sprinkling a small pinch of shredded cheese or swirling in a quarter tablespoon of sour cream (both of which she enjoys)- nothing. I’ve tried a few small pieces of chicken and beef- nothing. Her food bowl is accessible all day but I only put in a set amount of food twice a day. I deep clean her bowls once a week. She still only eats a few bites per meal. Any advice or explanations?

    • Ingrid
      July 25, 2013 at 7:32 pm (2 years ago)

      Has she had any bloodwork done recently? I’d be very concerned about the excessive drinking.

      • Shavonne
        July 25, 2013 at 7:34 pm (2 years ago)

        Yes. The vet says she’s healthy.

  26. Nicol
    July 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm (2 years ago)

    Which wet food are grain free? What she likes is gourmet gold. Is this grain free?

  27. Nicol
    July 25, 2013 at 5:40 pm (2 years ago)

    I thought that dry food is healthier than wet food. This is what the vet told us. My cat is always eating dry food in the morning and wet at night.

  28. Julie
    July 25, 2013 at 10:22 am (2 years ago)

    We have 2 cats, an elderly die-hard dry kibble eater, the other loved the dry kibble, but would also eat some moist. When our vet suggested a gradual change to Instinct moist, it was a difficult transition, but we have managed to do it. Your suggestion for pulling up the free range bowl of dry was scary for us, but we needed to do it. Now both cats eat Duck & Chicken varieties of Instinct moist, and we use the leftover bag of Instinct dry kibble as nighttime “treats” and give them each 5-10 little nuggets, which is kitty crack for them. I sprinkle some derma herbs (from the vet) and Dinovite into the elderly cats food, and her fur has never been nicer, and she pulls out her hair much less. Great suggestions in your article, and they truly work if you don’t give in.

  29. Vicki
    July 25, 2013 at 9:35 am (2 years ago)

    We switched over to the good canned food about 6 months ago. What a difference! Barney has lost 6 pounds and has much more energy. We sprinkle yeast powder on his food and also a capsule of chromium in the morning. We have a fantastic vet who has changed our cat’s life.

  30. Clare
    July 21, 2013 at 10:17 am (2 years ago)

    we transitioned our cat to grain free wet food after hairballs became a big issue. he ate the grain free for nearly 2 weeks fine and then stopped, we took him to the vet as we were worried, he has a clean bill of health, but is now a really finnicky eater, we have tried many varities of food, he appears to like tuna and salmon with vegetables from Veruva, but i know that he is not eating well yet on the new grain free diet. he has also become active early in the AM as in 3am ! he never was like that he slept through the night, i ignore him but he crys and mewows to get attention, i am wondering will this all sort itself out ?
    he has not pooped regularly either since switching, the vet recommeded a laxative (cant recall the name) to add to his food now and then to keep him regular. whaany thoughts ?
    the great news is that he has not thrown up any hair ball since we swtiched him and that is just great as i felt so bad for him hacking a hairball maybe twice a week, his coat is also gorgeous now, he is a tuxedo cat,

    • Ingrid
      July 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm (2 years ago)

      For some cats, stools will become less frequent when on a quality grain-free diet. These diets tend to result in less waste. I would add a good probiotic to his food. It sounds like he’s doing well on the new diet and just requires some “tweaking.”

  31. Heather
    July 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm (2 years ago)

    My cats will eat only wet food, but they will also only eat chunky style wet food. This is quite a challenge for me since there is only two brands of chunky grain free food and they are both very expensive. None of the chunky style food comes in big cans. I have tried enticing them to eat pate style food with tuna juice, dried chicken/salmon, kitty sprinkles, cheese etc but they just take a few nibbles and leave.

    They do eat raw (if we are having chicken/turkey/fish), but tend to run off somewhere to hide and eat it (??).

  32. Michelle
    July 3, 2013 at 11:17 am (2 years ago)

    Great advice! I’ve attempted to change to better food for my girls with little success. I’ll try these little tricks. Thank you!

    • Ingrid
      July 3, 2013 at 6:27 pm (2 years ago)

      Let me know how these tips work for you, Michelle.

  33. Gayle
    July 3, 2013 at 10:15 am (2 years ago)

    This is a timely article for me because I have a question about grain free diets. Would a grain free diet cause constipation in my cat? Don’t cats need some fiber? I have been giving grain free dry cat food to my cats and yesterday, one of them was given an enema by our Vet because she had a bunch of “stuff” in her intestine. I am now wondering if feeding her this grain free diet caused this problem?

    • Ingrid
      July 3, 2013 at 6:27 pm (2 years ago)

      Grain-free canned food usually doesn’t cause constipation, Gayle, but it’s possible. Try adding some canned pumpkin (1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon per meal) and see if that helps. Make sure it’s straight pumpkin and not the pie filling.

      • Gayle
        July 3, 2013 at 8:33 pm (2 years ago)

        Thank you for your advice, I will try it

      • Anne
        August 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm (1 year ago)

        My cat has severe constipation, in the last month enemas two different times…I had to force last night some pumpkin into her mouth w/ a syringe, but I dont want to force….any suggestions, she wont even sniff wet of any kind

        • Ingrid
          August 28, 2014 at 12:36 pm (1 year ago)

          Constipation can be caused by a number of different issues. Adding probiotics and digestive enzymes to the diet can help, as can increasing the moisture in the diet. Dry food is not good for any cat, but especially not for cats who have issues with constipation. Have you tried all the suggestions offered in this article to tempt her to eat wet food?

          • Anne
            August 28, 2014 at 12:40 pm (1 year ago)

            not yet , I just found this blog.
            How do I administer the enzymes and probiotics? where do I get them from

          • Ingrid
            August 28, 2014 at 12:53 pm (1 year ago)

            I like this product: It’s a combination of enzymes and probiotics in a flavorless powder that you can just mix in with food.

  34. Deborah Julian Cat Art
    July 3, 2013 at 8:17 am (2 years ago)

    Our cat Billy had a very difficult time accepting canned food. I tried adding all the incentives you mention but he would always walk from the food. What finally worked was offering him four or five kernels of dry food and as soon as he swallowed the last kernel I would place the dish of canned food under his nose and he would eat it. If I got him eating something he liked he would continue to eat whatever I slipped under his nose.

    • Ingrid
      July 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm (2 years ago)

      What an interesting approach, Debbie!

  35. Vickster
    July 3, 2013 at 7:34 am (2 years ago)

    The sprinkled parmesan cheese worked for us! I was desperate to find a way to entice my Angel girl to canned food, but she wouldn’t eat it. Then one day I was surfing the web, and somewhere I saw the suggestion of grated parmesan cheese. Next thing, I was at the grocery store, brought it home and voila! Angel and her brother Chucky now are exclusively on wet food. I even feed wet to my feral/stray cats, except when it’s too cold, or too hot (flies…yuck!) Great post again, Ingrid!

    • Ingrid
      July 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm (2 years ago)

      Good to hear the parmesan cheese worked for you, Vickster!

  36. Marg
    July 3, 2013 at 7:32 am (2 years ago)

    That is some great info. I have one cat that will not eat canned food. But he stays outside right now and eats with the group. Once he is staying inside again, I am going to give it a try again,
    Also I do have a question. I did switch Mahoney over to the grain free food and she is on the enzymes and she not thrown up at all. My question is should, I be giving her different kinds of grain free food?? The enzymes really does help them and also the canned food.
    Glad you wrote this. It gives me the push to work on some of my other cats to eat nothing but the grain free.

    • Ingrid
      July 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm (2 years ago)

      I would rotate a couple of different grain-free foods, Marg – for the reasons mentioned above.


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