05 Sep Variety is the spice of life! – Feeding Fussy Felines
My cat is a fussy eater!
Many cat owners tell me that finding a wet food their cat will eat is difficult. Cats are stereotyped as fussy eaters and for many of us this rings true. My first cat, Misty, was a fussy eater. I would try wet food after wet food in the hope I’d eventually find something she would eat. In the end I gave up, and she went on a dry only diet. Many years later, after Misty passed away, we adopted little kitty Millie. She’s sassy, cuddly when she feels like it, and is also a fussy eater. This time round, I had more knowledge from doing my own research into pet food, as well as a few years’ experience of working with cats under my belt.
There are two things I’ve learned when it comes to cats and wet food. The first, is that if you overfeed dry food they are less inclined to eat their wet food. And the second? Cats get fed up quickly.
What’s so important about providing wet food in their diet?
There is an ongoing debate about whether wet food is equal to, better or worse than, dry food. Personally, I think if you’re going to give your pet a commercial pet food diet then it should be either wet only, or a mix. At least 50/50 wet:dry. Why?
A cat’s natural diet (a prey diet) is low in carbs, and has a high moisture content. They rely on getting a large amount of their water from what they eat. Which is why cats are notorious for not drinking enough water, however you provide it to them. Not getting enough water can lead to urinary crystals, and kidney problems down the road too.
Wet food contains a high moisture content, usually around 80% and it’s vastly lower in carbohydrates than dry food.
So how do you encourage your cat to eat wet food?
Step One: Cut back the dry food!
I’ve found that cats who are free fed tend to show little interest in wet food compared to dry food. Many cats, given the choice, will pick dry food over wet food. I tell clients to start weighing out the dry food according to the feeding guide. The first thing they discover is that they were feeding their cats too much food. The second, is that their cat will start to eat their wet food.
When introducing wet food into your cat’s diet, remember you have to adjust the amount of dry food you give them. If the food package says a cat’s daily amount of dry food is 60g, and the daily amount for the wet food says two tins, then half the amount for each. Then tweak it if need be. To learn more about how much food you should be feeding your cat, check out the previous blog post here.
It is a myth that a cat will only eat what they need!!! If this was true, then 50% of the UK cat population (according to the PDSA’s 2017 survey) wouldn’t be overweight or obese. Remember: the higher the quality of food you provide for your cat, the less they need to eat.
Step Two: Variety!
You find a brand your cat will eat, woohoo! First thing you do is run to the pet store and buy it in bulk. It’s an easy trap to fall into as a cat owner. However, cats get bored easily. If they are fed the same food day in, day out, they will eventually get fed up with it. Could you imagine eating the same meal every single day for the rest of your life? Each bite would become less appetising as the days went on.
Finding a few different wet food brands and flavours for your cat to eat is essential. If they get something different every day, they can’t get fed up with it!
My own two cats get four different varieties of dry food. For wet food, they get eight different varieties. I still regularly search for new cat food brands to try out, both for them and for our hotel guests too.
Which wet food do I try?
There are three main types of wet food: Terrines/Pate, Chunky/Shredded meat, and Soups.
Soups can be a great place to start. They are mainly broth with some meat/fish and veg, so if your cat is the type to lick their wet food rather than eat it this is a good choice. It’s a good introduction to encourage more water into your cat’s diet.
Terrines/Pate are very hit and miss. I find the majority of fussy cats won’t touch it – they don’t seem to like the texture of these wet food types.
The shredded meat type of wet food is the one we provide at The Purr Hotel. I find these types are your best bet on getting your cat to actually eat their wet food.
Sugar? In cat food?!
Always read the ingredients list, many pet foods add sugar! Our cats don’t need this in their diet! So why do they add it? Because our pets get addicted to it. It adds no nutritional value to the food, and the fact they have to add sugar probably means it doesn’t taste all that good without it! It’s also very bad for their teeth. Wet foods that come in ‘gravy’ almost always have sugar in them – avoid!! Some jelly types have sugar too.
- Weigh out their dry food in accordance to the feeding guideline. When giving them wet food, half the amount of dry food they should receive daily.
- Variety is key! Ensure your cat has a different wet food every day, for as often as you can. This makes it less likely for them to go off it.
- Avoid wet foods that add sugar. Like hoomins, it’s bad for their teeth and their health.