Food for Picky Cats: Getting your finicky cat to eat well

Does your cat turn up its nose at the food you offer it? A picky cat that seemingly refuses to eat can leave you feeling helpless. However, even picky cats deserve the best nutrition. Read on for some tried and tested tricks to get your cat to stop refusing its food.

picky cat
Photo by Sam Chang on Unsplash

Why is your picky cat not eating?

Your cat may not be eating for many reasons. However, having picky cats definitely makes things harder, especially when it comes to mealtimes. Here are some factors that might exacerbate food refusal. 

  • A lack of routine. Cats are creatures of habit and a lack of routine in their feeding schedule can be disruptive to their meal times. Free-feeding for fussy cats might not be the best idea. 
  • Too many treats. If you’re tempting your picky cat to eat with treats, then your cat will learn that they get a reward for refusing to eat their meals. 
  • Picky cats often have preference for certain foods and flavours.
  • The serving dish is dirty. Yes! Cats can be particular when it comes to cleanliness.
  • If your cat usually eats dry food but is suddenly fussy, it may be time to replace your food supply. Dry food can absorb moisture and turn stale. 
  • If your cat usually eats wet food and is now refusing it, it may be that the food is too cold. Try warming it up in the microwave to room temperature, especially if it was kept in the fridge. 

What can I feed a picky cat?  

The best food for picky cats are healthy and balanced foods that they are willing to consume. 

Wet food for picky cats

Sometimes, cats prefer a particular texture or flavour. For cats who eat better when they are offered wet food, there are actually many choices on the market that you can try, such as raw cat food, semi-moist cat food and canned food. Canned food for picky cats usually has a gravy component that can help tempt your cat and increase its appetite during meal times.  

Once you identify a texture and taste that your cat likes, stick to the formula for consistency. 

Dry food for picky cats

Sometimes, cats won’t eat wet food, preferring kibble. However, finicky cats may not consume all that you offer at once. For these cats, you can measure out the day’s portion in the morning so that you know exactly how much your cat is eating. You can help selective cats who prefer dry food to eat better by adding a ‘dressing’ on dry kibble. For example, you can sprinkle some meal toppers or add some bone broth or gravy from canned food to the dry food. 

Tips and tricks to get your picky cat to eat

Here are some tips and tricks that might help get your fussy cat to eat. 

Get into a routine

Cats love routine. A feeding routine may help your cat get used to specific times of the day when they expect to eat. 

Try different types of foods

You can try offering your cat different types of food. There are many types of cat food available on the market that you can try out such as wet food, kibble, and freeze dried. PetCubes offers a wide range of raw cat food specially formulated for your cat’s nutritional needs.  

Reduce treats

Giving your cat too many treats can cause their appetite to suffer. It also decreases their need and motivation to eat their main meals as the said treats are filling them up. Treats should be limited and if possible, given at specific times of the day. 

Try a meal topper

Sprinkle some toppers over your cat’s meal to add some exciting flavours. Your cat may just gobble it down. 

Try a different protein

Some cats may prefer poultry based recipes rather than purely fish based recipes. You can try proteins such as Beef & Chicken, Venison or Wild Kangaroo

cat food

Switch it up

Make mealtime exciting by rotating foods. If your cat is choosy, it might become bored quickly with the food it is eating and some ‘new’ food might tantalize its appetite. However, you will have to ensure that there are no digestion issues from the changes. 

Add some liquid

Adding moisture, such as topping the meal with some bone broth can make food smell better and tempt your finicky cat. Additionally, bone broth for cats is an excellent source of nutrients.  

Encourage your cat

Be with your cat when it's eating and encourage them to finish their meal. Praise them when they finish their food to show that you are pleased. Compliment your picky cat and give it extra attention when it eats well. 

Clear uneaten food

If the food has been untouched or unfinished for a few hours, pick it up. This will encourage your cat to eat while the food is out. It also ensures that your cat doesn’t end up eating spoilt food. 

Try different serving dishes

Test out feeding your cat using different bowls, saucers or plates. Do ensure that the dishes are made out of safe materials such as ceramic or stainless steel. 

Change feeding locations

Try placing your cat’s food dish in another area of the home. As cats are not social eaters, choose a quiet space away from the busy areas of the house. Ensure that the food and water dish is not too close to the litter box. 

Check with your veterinarian

If your cat seems to be lacking appetite consistently, consult your vet to make sure that there is no underlying medical condition that might be causing this issue. 


Picky cats can be hard to feed, but it’s not impossible to find a suitable, nutritious and well balanced diet that they love. You might have to try out several ways to feed them before they eat, but don’t give up. Your fussy cat will eventually eat.