Is it true that cats are neophobic and picky about everything? While many cat owners consider their kitties as having hesitancy to change, there is good reason behind most of this. Understanding why our cats can be picky is key to helping expand their palettes and increase enrichment.

The definition of neophobic is:

having an extreme or irrational dislike of anything new or unfamiliar.
“foods rejected by neophobic children”

However, a well known fact about cats is that felines love novelty. Whenever we move furniture in the house or bring in a new box/toy/bag – the cats are right there asking to be a part of it. So, do we believe cats are neophobic simply because they are skittish around new people, don’t typically like to go on trips and can be difficult to eat new foods? If so, let’s explore why cats are neophobic, or not.

Why cats are scared of new people or animals in the home

Cats aren’t like small dogs. If you’ve ever had a small dog you likely watched as he ruled the home. Dogs are predators, and so are cats… but they are also prey. It’s in their instinctive nature to hide from unfamiliar mammals. Unless your cat has been abused by humans, the fear of other animals will be stronger than the fear of humans for most kitties. We don’t allow other animals in our home, unless under urgent situation, so as to keep our cats’ stress levels low; however, if you will consistently have guest pets in the house then you can slowly socialize your kitty to accept the situation. It’s easiest and crucial if we socialize our cats as kittens. Socialized kittens are often super friendly to new guests in the home. That’s the case with our black panthers, but not the rest of the clowder. The rest were abandoned. Be patient with your cat’s level of fear.

Why cats don’t like to go on trips

Cats that travel often with their humans are actually fond of travel. Cats, however, that are always at home and never get into a 4000 lb vehicle that shakes, smells, makes humming noises and moves in a way that they aren’t used to will likely not enjoy a car ride. In most cases, our cats don’t get into a vehicle unless it’s a trip to the veterinarian’s office. And who likes to go to the doctor? Not me… and definitely not our cats. So they have no positive experience with car rides. Have compassion with your cat’s experience levels. Take them for rides on good days – just for the fun of it. It’ll help ease the fear of trips in the long run.

Why cats refuse to eat new foods

Commercial pet food companies (owned by the billion dollar corporations) have done extensive research on how to get cats to eat their highly processed foods. Cats initially, being undomesticated and obligate carnivores, wouldn’t even try the crunchy kibble made from decomposed leftover meat, wheat and restaurant oil scraps – even though the dogs would (see, cats are smart!). What the companies found was that they could use certain chemicals and digest from dead animals to attract and addict cats to their foods. This started years ago and still continues to this day. Why? Because it works.

We think cats are neophobes when it comes to their food, but they (and we) have actually been tricked into addiction. On top of this chemical addiction, many of us lay out an all-day-buffet of food for our kitties. If you had a buffet of the food that you’re addicted to available to you at all times, would you switch to a better diet? Likely not.

Have sympathy for your addicted kitties and help them from this addiction compassionately and slowly. You can check out our Get Fresh With Your Feline Week videos for ample tips and tricks on getting your cats to eat a better diet.

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