I can’t tell you how many cat parents we come across each day who tell us their cat won’t eat wet food. It’s a thing. In fact, we didn’t think Pooh Bear would ever eat wet food because he was a kibble addict years ago too.
One lesson we learned from transitioning our cats to a moist diet was that we teach our cats what food is. If we feed them dry kibble from a young age, that’s what they know as food. When we try to change a diet they are used to, they look at us like we’re nuts. Or they go on a hunger strike. Depending how finicky they are, transitioning diets can be a very difficult time for our cats – and for us (just ask Adrienne!).
However – just because cats are more finicky with their food doesn’t mean we should allow them to be nutritionally neglected or abused. You wouldn’t let your child eat only potato chips her whole life, right?
We have to be smart as cat parents – and sometimes that means getting tricky as well.
It’s easy for dogs. The majority of the time you simply give them a new food – and they just eat it. And if they’re being picky, you just don’t feed them until they agree to eat the food you want them to eat. That’s just not the way cats work.
You can’t starve a cat. While a fasting period of 8-10 hours is recommended, cats can risk serious illness and even death if they go too long without eating. Anytime a cat refuses to eat for more than 48 hours becomes very dangerous.
That being said, hunger is still our friend. If we’re free feeding an all-day-buffet to our cats (leaving the kibble out for them munch all day!) it’s going to be much harder to give them a new food. Why? Because they’ve got easy access to what we’ve taught them is “food”.
Tips to get your cat eating better food
- Start picking up the dry food at night and letting your kitty get hungry while you sleep. In the morning your cat will be more likely to eat whatever you give him because he’s hungry.
- If that doesn’t work, try adding his favorite treat on top of the food – meal toppers can be very persuasive!
- If he’s still being picky, give him some dry food but mix a little moist food into it too – or place it right next to the kibble. Eventually he’ll eat, even if he tries to eats around the moist food. Consistently doing this will help him to recognize the moist food as “food”.
And if your cat won’t eat wet food after trying this, click here to see how we did it.