Cats are lovely—they’re relatively low maintenance, adorable when they want attention, and they usually do silly things that we humans find hilarious. However, cats can be fussy in many ways; they might prefer your used pile of clothes to the brand-new pet bed you got them or be incredibly picky eaters.
Cats are very particular about the foods they eat. When it comes to wet food, cats rely highly on the food’s smell and textures, not necessarily the taste. You might find your kitty only licking the jelly or gravy from wet foods instead of eating the chunks.
Picky cats are not an uncommon problem—many cat owners struggle when changing a cat’s diet to include wet food. But every change comes with a bit of a learning curve, and in some cases, it’s essential to take note of your cat’s eating habits to make sure they’re still healthy. There are, however, a few ways to make wet food more appealing to your furry friend.
Why Would A Cat Only Eat The Jelly?
Yes, your cat might be ‘picky’—but it’s for a good reason! In the wild, cats hunt for food, and their senses are heightened to detect spoiled or rotten meat. Since they are highly susceptible to smells and textures, these aspects of wet foods can either appeal to your cat’s taste or be downright off-putting.
If your cat is new to wet foods, don’t spend your entire budget on one brand! Instead, try a few different brands to find one your cat likes. You might even want to alternate the flavors to keep things interesting. Keep an eye on the ingredients and opt for foods with less artificial flavoring and more animal protein in their recipe.
Keeping an eye on the ingredients helps you keep your cat’s diet healthy. Some wet food brands add artificial flavorings to make the food more appealing to cats. They will like these wet foods a little more, but it’s similar to what junk food is for humans—it might taste and look appealing, but it’s terrible for their health. It might even ruin their appetite for less artificial, healthier alternatives.
While domesticated, cats still have those built-in instincts from their wild predecessors. If your cat is new to the home, they might be reluctant to sit down and enjoy an entire bowl of food in one sitting. They might just be consuming the easier-to-eat bits and leaving the rest for later. Alternatively, bigger chunks might be unappealing to some cats.
Give your cat some time to eat. If your cats like to eat slowly, you can leave the wet food out for another hour—just not long enough for it to go stale. If they don’t seem to like the chunks at all, try a different recipe. Many cats like wet foods with flakes instead of big pieces, and many cats prefer pates over any chunky wet food types.
There’s also the possibility of a botched batch of cat food. We like to believe pre-bought foods are all quality-tested, but there’s always the possibility of one bad batch slipping past notice. If your cats seem to stop being interested in a brand they used to love, but eat other brands fine, contact the customer care line and let them know.
Ensure that your cat has a fresh, clean bowl of water available. Cats might not drink a lot of water since their thirst threshold is relatively high compared to other household pets. That might be why they prefer the jelly and gravy from wet foods—in the wild, a cat’s need for water is met by moisture from the fresh prey they catch.
Should You Be Worried?
If your cat changes their eating habits suddenly, there might be an underlying issue. If you have ruled out any other possibilities, you should consider a trip to the vet. Cats are masters of hiding their problems—so appetite and habit changes could be the indicator of something much more severe. Not eating the chunks from wet foods could indicate that your cats have dental issues.
Types of Wet Foods
There are so many different types of wet food to choose from; you probably have to test a few to find out what your cat likes. If your cats don’t like chunky foods, you can give other types and textures a try to see whether they change your cat’s mind. These types vary in texture and taste, and each pet might prefer one to the other.
- Loaf-like chunks
Chunks, shreds, and flakes usually come in jelly or gravy—and your cats might have a preference for either type. Pates and mousses are typically ideal for older cats and kittens, especially if they have a hard time chewing through the chunks or shreds.
How to Get Cats to Eat Wet Food
First thing’s first: cats won’t “eat if they are hungry enough.” Cats are stubborn and determined pets. They are far more likely to starve themselves than eat something they don’t like. Experimenting with brands and flavors is very important. Find something that your cat likes instead of forcing them to eat something they don’t like.
While you can’t force your cat to eat, you might be able to trick them into eating it. There are a lot of methods to make foods more appealing to your furry friend.
- Just give them a taste. Cats might be a bit skeptical of the food at first—and that’s completely normal. Putting some of their wet food on their nose or paws would force them to lick it off. They might like it, or they might not—but it might encourage them to eat the wet food on offer.
- Heat the wet food before serving it. Heating food can make it smell more appetizing and make the chunks more flavourful and aromatic. Cats rely on smell to guide their eating habits, so they might find warm foods more appealing. Stir the food before serving it, so it’s evenly warmed, and make sure it isn’t hot enough to burn your kitty.
- Mash the food with a fork. If your cats seem to dislike the chunks but eat the gravy or jelly without a problem, try mashing the pieces with a fork to make it easier for them to eat. This method works for most chunky wet foods. In the process of licking up the gravy or jelly, your cats might ‘accidentally’ eat the mashed-up chunks as well.
- Mix wet food with dry food. Cats moving from a dry-food diet to eating wet food might have difficulty adjusting since they aren’t used to it. If you want to get them to try it out, mix some of the new wet food with their favorite dry foods. It might trick them into eating the wet food along with their dry food.
- Put a treat in the middle of the wet food. Cats might be more inclined to eat wet food they don’t like if there is some reward involved—even if that sounds ridiculous. Put one or two of their favorite treats in the bowl with their wet food. In their excitement to get to the treats, they might gobble up some of the wet food, too.
- Stick to set mealtimes. If they’re free-feeding cats, try to set mealtimes for them during the day. Set mealtimes help cats maintain a routine and appetite, and they might eat the wet food more willingly, knowing that this will be their meal.
- Add some water. Cats’ intense focus on texture over taste might be what’s holding them back. If all else fails, add a little bit of water to their wet food and see whether that changes their approach to the food.
Keep in mind that cats can be what we consider to be picky, just like humans. They can also grow tired of the same flavor over and over, just like we do. Try switching up the flavors or the brand to keep it interesting. They might also be tired of the same texture—alternate feeding them wet and dry food if possible.
Don’t panic unless this behavior is out of the ordinary and all other issues have been ruled out. If you are concerned, feel free to give your vet a call. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our beloved pets. If your cats don’t like something, don’t force them to eat it. They are stubborn enough to let themselves starve before eating something they consider unappetizing.