Wednesday 15 June 2022

2 ways to encourage your cat to eat if they are picky

Sometimes domestic cats can be picky about what they eat. Perhaps they are fed too much or they are just picky like some people. I know of two ways and there might be more of encouraging a domestic cat to eat. 

The first is to gently stroke your cat on their back when the food bowl is presented to them. If they didn't eat before, in my experience they will begin to eat if you do that. Why does this happen? It probably has something to do with newborns being licked by their mother and nursing. It is a throwback to those early weeks.

Stroking a cat can encourage eating
Stroking a cat can encourage eating. Image: Pixabay.

The second method is well known which is to gently heat the food in a microwave. It should be a matter of seconds only, perhaps about four seconds. Heated food will smell more strongly and as domestic cats rely on smell to identify food and its palatability, this should help.

My cat likes prawns which I keep in the fridge. If I want to make them particularly attractive to him, I break them open which helps the smell to come out more and I warm them with a 3-4 second microwave session at 100%. 

His behaviour indicates to me that this makes him more interested in the food. A counter argument to the above is that if your cat rejects the food that you give him, he is not hungry enough. On that basis you should do nothing and not try and encourage him to eat it. If a cat is genuinely hungry, they will eat what is placed before them.

I sense that there is a pattern of behaviour in some homes in which the cat, out of routine and to a certain extent boredom, meows for food but is not hungry. This is similar behaviour to people who eat out of habit at certain times of the day even if they aren't hungry.

Or when they settle down to watch some television, they like to eat at the same time. It's a double pleasure which is better than a single pleasure.

Domestic cats should only eat when they are hungry and the same goes for people! The feline obesity epidemic is partly due to eating were not hungry and for pleasure just as humans do.

Please read Sandi's comment below about adding warm water or broth to cat food to make it more palatable in lieu of warming it up in a microwave.


  1. What I've discovered to help a cat eat who doesn't seem to want the (high quality) wet food is to sprinkle a little nutritional yeast on top of the food that's already been warmed by adding hot water. I don't think it's a good idea to warm cat food in the
    microwave. By adding the hot water or broth to the food, they will benefit from the
    added moisture.

    I've shared this tip with many cat guardians who had issues with their cats not eating
    certain wet foods.

    This doesn't happen so much with dry food because the manufacturers add the addictive substance of animal digest which enhances the smell. Most likely smell is more important than taste for cats. This may be one reason that Temptations treats seem addictive. It's because they are! I don't recommend feeding them these treats at all.

    If a cat refuses certain food, try topping it with something you know they like. I never
    met a cat who didn't like nutritional yeast. I use Bragg, but nutritional yeast my be sold in bulk in certain stores. And it's good for them....and us.

    1. Thanks Sandi. I will point this out in the article.


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