How to Get Your Picky Cat to Eat: A Guide for Frustrated Cat Owners

Cats are notorious for being picky eaters. It can be frustrating to constantly cater to their ever-changing tastes and preferences, or struggling to get them to try something new. But fear not, because there’s a scientific reason behind their fussiness. Cats are “imprint eaters,” meaning that the first types of food they eat after nursing become imprinted in their brains as the only acceptable options. They form strong associations with taste, temperature, smell, texture, and shape of food, as a way to protect themselves from unknown or harmful substances.

Understanding this behavior can help you navigate the challenge of finding the right food for your feline friend. In this guide, we’ll lay out a plan to help your picky cat eat and stay healthy.

Start with a Healthy Diet – Lots of Protein and Wet Food are Key

When it comes to finding the right food for your cat, it’s essential to provide them with a healthy diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need animal-based nutrients to survive. Their diet should consist of high amounts of protein, moderate amounts of fat, and minimal carbohydrates. Meat provides the necessary macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids that cats require.

To entice your cat to try new food, introduce them to an irresistible diet with plenty of meat and wet food. If your cat is accustomed to dry kibble, the transition to wet food may need to be gradual to avoid digestive issues. Mix a small amount of wet food into their dry food or hide wet food under the dry food and slowly increase the ratio of wet to dry over time.

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However, keep in mind that while this approach works for most cats, some may refuse to eat altogether. In such cases, try offering a small amount of wet food in a separate dish next to the dry food or place the new food in unexpected locations, triggering their curiosity or hunting instincts.

Essential Nutrients for Your Cat’s Diet

Before introducing new food, ensure that it is nutritionally balanced. Here are some key ingredients to look for in cat food:


Cats require lean meats like poultry, beef, pork, and rabbit. It’s crucial to choose high-quality proteins as the primary ingredients in your cat’s diet. Fresh or canned raw food is ideal, as it closely resembles their natural diet. Animal organs like liver, kidney, and heart can also provide excellent sources of protein. Avoid feeding your cat overly fatty meat, skin tissue, seasoned meat, or foods high in sodium.


Healthy fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for supporting your cat’s immune system, coat health, and brain function. Look for wet foods that contain at least eight percent fat to meet their Omega-6 requirements. Additionally, consider using a fish oil supplement that is high in Omega-3 to ensure a balanced intake of omegas.


While cats don’t require carbohydrates in their diet, a small amount of carbs can provide additional fiber and bulk to their meals. Avoid cat foods that contain fillers like corn, wheat, and soy, as these can lead to inflammation and digestive problems.

Cat licking lips

Tips and Tricks to Encourage Your Picky Cat to Eat

If you’ve tried making their food as appealing as possible and your cat still refuses to eat enough, here are some additional tips you can try:

  • Warm up their food to release enticing aromas.
  • Add a small amount of water to make the food more palatable and keep your cat hydrated.
  • Experiment with different protein sources to keep your cat interested.
  • Sprinkle a bit of catnip to capture your cat’s attention and stimulate their appetite.
  • Offer different flavors and textures of food to provide variety and keep your cat engaged.
  • Pay attention to your cat’s water preferences, as some may prefer fresh water in a separate location from their food. Consider using a water fountain bowl to keep their water fresh and appealing.
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However, if your cat consistently refuses to eat anything new for several days, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian. Cats can be stubborn, and some may even starve themselves rather than eat food they don’t perceive as suitable. Your vet can help determine if there are underlying health issues contributing to your cat’s lack of appetite.

A Word of Caution

When you finally find a food that your picky cat enjoys, be cautious with your choice. Many cat foods contain cheap fillers and low-quality ingredients that may taste great but can lead to health problems. Look for high-quality options like our Kahoots Café de Cat recipes, which have undergone extensive palatability studies to ensure they are the tastiest on the market. These recipes focus on simple, honest ingredients such as chopped sardines, red meat, albacore tuna, calamari rings, and tiny prawns. They provide high moisture content and include all the necessary vitamins and minerals for a complete and balanced diet.

Try, Try Again

If you’re struggling to find the perfect food for your picky feline, don’t give up. Remember that cats are naturally selective eaters. Keep experimenting with different flavors and textures, ensure they feel safe while eating, and provide fresh water. With patience and persistence, even the most stubborn of cats can eventually find a food they love. However, if your cat continues to refuse food after several days of trying different options, it’s best to seek professional advice from a veterinarian.

Thanks for reading our tips on how to get your picky cat to eat! If you have any questions, we’re always happy to help. Feel free to reach out to us at Katten TrimSalon.