When I’m watching wildlife documentaries, as I often do, I see the leopard hunting a rabbit, then an impala the next day, and a warthog the next. I look over at my own cat, sitting there on the couch, belly up, licking her hindfoot, and feel sorry that she must eat the same boring cat food day in and day out. Do cats get tired of eating the same food every day, or are we projecting our feelings onto our cats?
Cats can get tired of eating the same dry kibble every day and feeding them a combination of wet food and dry food is recommended. Change up the flavors and textures occasionally, but do so slowly, to avoid upsetting their stomach.
Personally, I could not imagine eating the same food every day. Because I love my cats and want to indulge them and keep them stimulated, I feed them lots of different treats, but their primary diet remains a combination of dry food and wet food. Here’s why:
Do Cats Need Variety in Their Diet?
In terms of nutrition, cats have six basic needs: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Commercial cat foods are designed to adequately meet all your cat’s nutritional requirements. Cats can survive on a diet of just dry cat food. Animals do not perceive food in the same way that we do.
But have you ever noticed your cat meowing extra loudly when you open a package of seafood? Louder than when you pick up their bag of kibble. Or have you seen how fast they come sprinting into the kitchen when they hear a tin being opened? Your cat has an extraordinary sense of smell, and they know that some things taste better than others. Cats don’t strictly need variety in their diet, but I think they deserve it.
My Cats Never Finish Their Food
It is normal to think that when your cat doesn’t finish their food, they are bored. However, there are several reasons why cats do not finish the food you give them.
- Feeding alongside other pets. Mealtime is a vulnerable time for cats. Naturally, in the wild, cats are primarily solitary animals. Eating with other animals can be stressful for them because they fear other animals competing for their meal.
- Their whiskers may be too sensitive touching the bowl. Cat’s whiskers are sensory organs, and it can be overstimulating for them when their whiskers touch their food. If your cat eats the food in the middle of the bowl and leaves the rest, it may be that sticking their face into the bowl to reach the food at the edges is too uncomfortable for them. Switch to feeding them in a shallower bowl or a plate.
- Too much food at once. Our cats, just like their larger relatives in the wild, enjoy eating many small meals throughout the day. In nature, cats are opportunistic hunters, feeding on many small prey items throughout the day. It’s unlikely that your cat will finish their food if they are given a big portion at once.
- Stress. If a cat stops eating altogether, it might be due to stress. Significant environmental changes like moving to a new house, getting a new pet, or having noisy builders working next door can be stressful to a cat. When cats are stressed, it is normal for them to avoid their food.
- Boredom. Cats can be as fussy and unpredictable as people, and sometimes they do just simply get tired of eating the same flavor and texture of wet and dry food.
Switching Up Your Cat’s Food
Various brands of commercial cat food contain different percentages of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Rotation feeding is recommended by vets to ensure that cats have a complete and balanced diet. This is done by feeding your cat two or three different brands at a time. Some vets also recommend changing a cat’s food brand occasionally to avoid cats developing allergies to any ingredients.
When considering cat food brands, always try to feed your cat the best quality food that your budget can manage, to ensure that their vision, teeth, and urinary tract stay healthy. The inexpensive cat food brands (often the ones you can buy at a grocery store) contain grain fillers to bulk it and low-quality protein sources, like hooves and beaks. These ingredients are less digestible to cats and can cause them to develop allergies.
We do need to remember that cats are creatures of habit, and they feel safe eating the same flavors and textures regularly. Switching up their diet too frequently and drastically should be avoided because it can be chaotic and stressful for them but offering them a treat here and there won’t do any harm.
How to Introduce Your Cat to New Food
Introducing a cat to a new food can be a challenge if the process is rushed. Switching to a new food too quickly can upset their stomach, causing diarrhea or vomiting. Your cat will take one or two weeks to get used to the smell, flavor, and texture of the new food. Here is how to easily make the transition:
- Mix a little of their new food (no more than a quarter of their meal) in with their old food for the first two to three days.
- Feed them a half-and-half mixture of their old and new food for the next few days.
- Move onto feeding them a mixture that is mainly their new food with a little of the old food for a day or two.
- Feed them 100% of their new food.
Keep an eye on your cat’s behavior (and their stools) and either speed up or slow down the transitioning process, depending on how they react to their food. After all, nobody knows your kitty better than you!
What Treats Can I Feed My Cat?
I ensure that my cat is getting optimal nutrition by feeding them a combination of good quality wet and dry food and changing up the flavor, texture, and brand occasionally. However, I still want to give them a special treat sometimes.
Indulge your kitty with little bits of cooked or freeze-dried beef, chicken, liver, fish, or scrambled egg. Small pieces of deli meat or cheese are also great treats for your cat.
Contrary to popular belief, cats are lactose intolerant and should not be given a saucer of milk as a treat! It can upset their stomach and cause diarrhea. You also should not give your cat tinned fish, like sardines or tuna. Canned foods that are intended for humans contain lots of salt and oil. Only give your cat tinned fish that is made for cats.
Avoid feeding your cat any human food, especially grapes, raisins, chocolate, onions, garlic, and anything that contains xylitol. These foods are toxic to cats.
Treat Them Wisely
The golden rule when it comes to giving your cat treats is moderation. Treats should be considered “extra” to their primary diet and should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s daily calorie intake. Obesity, because of too many treats, is common in cats.
A fantastic treat for your kitty, that is calorie-free is catnip or cat mint. It grows quickly or you can buy it as a dried herb from most pet food stores. Another plant that cats enjoy munching on is cat grass or pet grass. Cat grass is a similar plant to oat and wheatgrass, and one can easily grow it, even on a windowsill. Do not be alarmed if your cat regurgitates the grass, it is normal.
Cats can get tired of eating the same dry food every day. Therefore, it is recommended that you feed a combination of wet and dry food to your cat, rotating flavors, textures, and brands occasionally. However, too much variety too regularly can be stressful for cats. Introducing your cat to a new food should be done slowly, by mixing the old and new food for a week or two.
Your cat’s primary diet must consist of good quality wet and dry food to ensure that their nutritional needs are met. You can give them special treats for affection or reward them after taking medication or having their teeth brushed, but treats should make up a tiny portion of your cat’s daily calorie intake.