Cat behaviour: how to deal with a picky eater

Discover why your cat might be off their food.

cat looking at food

by Emily Gilbert |

Whether your feline friend usually loves wet cat food or dry, if they suddenly start turning their nose up at their bowl, you might be concerned that something is wrong.

If there are no medical reasons for inappetence in your cat, Ness Bird, Nutrition Advisor at Arden Grange has six questions to ask yourself.

1. Is my cat stressed?

Cats are sensitive creatures. They can become stressed for many reasons and this can have a negative impact upon appetite. Has anything changed in the household that may be responsible? Make sure you cat has a quiet place to eat away from any distractions or competition from other pets.

2. Are my cat’s bowl and feeding area dirty?

Make sure each meal is served in a fresh bowl, with no residue of previous meals and rinsed well of cleaning products and unpleasant tasting detergent. Uneaten wet or fresh food should be picked up and discarded as soon as possible.

3. Is my cat’s food past its best?

Cats are sensitive to the freshness of their food, so make sure it is stored correctly in an airtight container away from heat and sunlight.

4. Is my cat’s food too cold?

If you are keeping your cat’s food in the fridge it may be too cold for your cat to enjoy, try allowing food to reach room temperature before feeding.

5. Is my cat eating elsewhere?

The treats and titbits you are giving your cat may leave them less hungry at mealtimes, while cats with easy access to the outdoors may also be supplementing their diet by hunting.

6. Is my cat’s food enticing enough?

As carnivores, cats have a high requirement for protein. A recipe with a high proportion of meat or fish (ideally a named meat source will be the first thing to appear on the ingredient list) can be appealing to felines whose taste buds are finely attuned to umami (meaty/savoury) flavours.

The shape, size and density of food may also play a role. Some cats enjoy dry kibbles while others prefer a moist texture. Did you know dry food can be soaked with a little warm water before serving? This softens it to a texture more suitable for ‘lapping’ and the warmth of the water will further release enticing aromas from the food.

Popular articles to read next

The best cat food for adults, kittens and seniors

The best wet cat food for your feline 2022

The best dry cat food according to real reviews

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us