While cats are not as food-obsessed as dogs and can generally be trusted not to overeat, cats can also be finicky about their diet, what they like to eat, and how they like it to be presented-and if something is not to their liking, your cat may well go off their food entirely.
If your cat does not act out or refuse food, your feeding times may be as simple as putting the food in their bowl and leaving them to get on with it. But if your cat is nervous, very finicky or highly strung, you might find that their mealtimes can be a challenge, for reasons that are not always obvious-and that we will look at in more detail within this article.
Restricting access to food
First of all, cats are generally happiest when they can free-feed, which means leaving food down and available to your cat all the time so that they can graze throughout the day when they want to. This is the most natural way of feeding cats in a domestic environment, as cats like to eat little and often-so unless there is a good reason for having to allocate set mealtimes to your cat, try to allow them to eat as and when they want to.
Not cleaning the bowls enough
Dry food bowls may not get particularly dirty, but they should still be washed, dried and replenished regularly-and wet food bowls should be taken up, washed and replaced every day. If you don’t clean your cat’s food bowls often enough, they might find this offends their sensibilities, and leads to a dislike of eating from them!
Having food too close to the water
In the wild, cats will eat well away from their nearest source of water, in order to avoid polluting it with decaying waste from their finished meals. This means that keeping your cat’s water bowl right next to their food might put your cat off either eating or drinking, and prefer to have their needs met by other means!
Not refreshing the water every day
It is important to wash the water bowl and replace the water in it at least once a day, and never let the bowl become totally empty, stagnant or stale. While dogs will usually happily drink from most water sources, cats are much more particular!
Feeding too many treats
Cats usually go mad for treats such as Dreamies and Whisker’s Temptations, and giving them treats can be a nice way to reward them and make them happy! But treats are usually artificially coloured, salted and flavoured, and not very good for your cat-as well as putting them off eating their proper, nutritionally complete meals!
Giving your cat too many scraps
Cats will often make quite a fuss about sharing whatever it is that you are eating, particularly if it is something like fish or meat. Most cats can get away with sharing a scrap or two on occasion, but bear in mind that human food is once again, often salted or flavoured, or will otherwise be unsuitable for your cat. Be careful too that you do not inadvertently feed your cat something that is toxic or otherwise unsuitable for them.
Substituting complete food with meat or fish
Feeding your cat a complete, balanced diet is usually as easy as buying a bag of such from a pet retailer or supermarket, but some people prefer to prepare their cat’s own meals at home from scratch, which takes a lot of time, knowledge and preparation. You cannot simply stop feeding your cat a complete food and start feeding them meat or fish instead-this will not fulfil all of your cat’s nutritional requirements. Steer clear of giving your cat too much tuna or meat, as these things do not fulfil all of their needs.
Feeding an inappropriate diet for the cat’s age
Complete cat foods are designed to meet the needs of different cats at different life stages, and it is important to choose the right diet for your cat’s age, activity levels and other important factors. Review this regularly, to ensure that you are not inadvertently giving your cat a diet that is not the best fit for their changing needs.
Not paying attention to the feeding environment
Cats need to feel safe and secure when they eat, and they will probably be uncomfortable if they are fed in close quarters with other cats or dogs, or in a busy, lively atmosphere. Try to pick a spot to feed your cat that is calm, quiet and comfortable for them!
Food bowls too close to litter trays or other things
Finally, keep your cat’s bowls well away from their litter tray, bins, cleaning materials or anything else that might smell offensive to your cat, and put them off their meals!
(Article source: Pets 4 Homes)
Foods to avoid feeding your cat
Although we may associate meat or meat by-products with a cat’s nutritional needs, they must be combined with other ingredients to provide complete nutrition. Cooked meats alone can be high in fat and do not contain a proper balance of nutrients.
As with dogs, chocolate can be quite harmful to your cat. While most cats are not drawn to sweets, a chocolate snack can cause increased heart rate, tremors and hyperactivity.
Some raw fish can cause a deficiency of the vitamin thiamine. Signs of a thiamine deficiency include anorexia (complete loss of appetite), abnormal posture, weakness, seizures and even death.
Small, soft bones (such as pork chop, fish or chicken bones) should never be given to your cat, as they may splinter and lodge in the cat’s mouth or throat and cause digestive distress.