There aren’t many things that are more frustrating than a cat who is fussy about her food. Getting finicky cats to eat can try even the most loving cat parent’s patience. There are a lot of different things you can do to entice a finicky eater. Nutritional yeast is one of the least known, yet potentially most successful weapons in your fight against finickiness (I’m not sure whether that’s a real word, but it should be!)

What is nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast that is grown on sugarcane or beet molasses. It is sold in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder, and can be found in the bulk aisle of most natural food stores. It has a strong nutty or cheesy flavor, which is why it is used as a cheese substitute in many vegetarian or vegan recipes. It also tastes great sprinkled over popcorn. Nutritional yeast is great source of B vitamins, a good source of potassium, and is nearly 50% protein. It is  naturally low in fat, sodium and it is sugar and dairy free.

The difference between nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast

Nutritional yeast is different from brewer’s yeast, which is a by-product of the beer brewing process. Brewers yeast also contains many vital nutrients, but has a more bitter taste. Some cats seem to like it. If you want to try brewer’s yeast, make sure to read labels: some manufacturers will add garlic, which is toxic to cats.

Nutritional yeast for cats

Not every cat will like the taste of nutritional yeast, but most cats love it. I use it with both Allegra and Ruby. Ruby can be a bit fussy about her food, and sprinkling a little bit of nutritional yeast over her meal will get her eating every single time. Allegra goes absolutely crazy for the stuff and starts dancing around my legs as soon as I get the jar out of the refrigerator.

You can’t really overdose a cat on nutritional yeast. I give between 1/4 to 1 teaspoon a day, depending on how much is needed to get Ms. Fussy to eat.

Concerns about phosphorus in nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast does contain phosphorus, which can be a concern for cats in renal failure. “The typical dose of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon would only add about 14 mg of Phosphorus,” says homeopathic feline veterinarian Andrea Tasi of Just Cats Naturally. “This would only matter if a cat is in advanced renal failure, or if the diet is otherwise high in phosphorus.” Dr. Tasi’s cat Fifi, who had chronic renal disease, loved nutritional yeast and got some on her raw food every day.

As far as flavor enhancers go, they don’t get any healthier or more effective than nutritional yeast.

Have you tried nutritional yeast for your finicky eater?