‘Help! My cat is not eating anything. What do I do?’ Yes, this is a major worry that most cat parents share. Cats can be fussy eaters and more so as they turn older, fall sick or if you need to change their food. You must understand that they are creatures of habit and find it difficult to adjust to change. This definitely poses a challenge when you try to change your stubborn feline buddy’s daily diet. So, here are a few tips to make the dreaded task easier!
Why should you change the diet?
There are a lot or reasons for you to change your pet’s food. They may have food allergies or intolerances, they could be diagnosed with kidney problems or could be overweight. They may also need to change their diet for better dental care. Whatever maybe the reason it can be quite a stressful and testing time for both cat and their owners because the fact is that cats do not like changes in their environment, especially in their food. They will be happy to eat the same food every day.
Make the change gradually
Any new changes to the diet must be introduced gradually to your pet. It takes about a week for them to adjust to the new food. Your pet has enzymes and bacteria in their body that have adapted to the old food so a sudden change in diet may cause an upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. What you need to do is to include small portions of the new food mixed with the old one and slowly increase the portion of the new food each day so that on the 7th day they are able to eat only the new food.
Utilise their sense of smell
Cats are very much attuned to the sense of smell and will refuse to eat the new food until it is warmed up to the normal body temperature. This comes as part of their natural instinct to hunt and eat things that are freshly killed and warm. So, serve their food only after heating it up until it is slightly warm.
Changing from dry to wet food
If your cat has urinary infection or is diagnosed with diabetes then they should be fed a high protein wet food. But if your pet has a particular fondness for dry kibbles or biscuit then you can still mix them into wet food so they adapt better to eat the new food.
You can also try adding warm water to their kibbles or mix an onion free and salt reduced stock that will tease their appetite. Experiment with cottage cheese, barbequed chicken, small chunks of tuna or a few biscuits.
Most cats respond better to touch. So, pat them gently and stroke them from their head to tail while they eat. It will encourage them to eat. You can also try hand feeding them as it will definitely strengthen the bond between the two of you.
Ensure your pet gets enough exercise as it will increase their appetite. So, keep them busy and on their feet! Bring out their toys, go outdoors and make them play. Once you introduce them too a physical activity the exercise will help them to eat whatever you put in their bowl.
If your pet absolutely refuses to eat no matter what you do then your last option would be to syringe feed them. Your vet will place a feeding tube if your cat has stopped eating.
What to do if they really do not eat?
You must understand that cats do not eat regularly. But if they go hungry for a long time they can easily develop a serious condition called hepatic lipidoses, which is enough to make them very sick and weak. So, if you notice that your pet is eating lesser food and is starving themselves for more than a day then you must take them to be checked professionally by the vet.