Finicky Cats

Finicky cats are known to be picky in many aspects of their normal behaviors not just regarding food. Cats are a discriminating species. They choose to whom they will be friendly and when to obey commands. They have been labeled finicky cats because of their feeding behavior. This finicky behavior was not merely designed to drive cat owners crazy; it can indicate a cat’s diet needs and health.

The cat’s tongue is uniquely designed to detect taste, temperature and food texture. It can ladle liquids, pick up tiny bit of food, remove meat from bones and groom the coat. The surface of the tongue is covered with finger-like projections called papillae. Some papillae contain taste buds, and some contain spine-like structures that help in grooming.

The sense of taste in cats is probably more sensitive than in humans. Most humans cannot detect subtle changes in water freshness. Some researchers believe that cats like to drink out of running taps because they prefer the fresher tasting water.

How do the taste buds of your cats work? Food substances are dissolved by saliva. Taste hairs in the taste buds detect the different sensations, and signals about taste are sent to the brain through pairs of specialized nerves. Through these signals, foods are recognized.

Different taste buds are specific for different sensations. Cats can detect sour, bitter and salty tastes, but they apparently cannot detect sweetness. Taste and palatability is not the same thing. Palatability is crucial to a cat’s decision to eat something.

Cats are sensitive to the taste, texture and physical shape of their food, and these factors determine palatability. Experiments show that cats surprisingly prefer a new or novel shape or flavor of food. Food ingredients that have been determined to affect palatability for cats are moisture, animal fats, protein hydrolysates, meat extracts, certain proteins and acidity. Sense of smell is crucial in cats’ feeding behaviors.

The normal cat food offered at your local pet store may not fit your finicky cats choices so I have found a number of vendors that have special foods such as all natural foods, that will perhaps tempt your finicky cats. Simply go to Pet Products and perhaps try something from Wysong, a specialty food manufacturer, or All Natural Pet Products, etc. You may find something that appeals to what you think your pet may like. The good thing about Wysong is that they have a Trial Pack so you can try a few items without buying a ton of something your cat may hate. Just click on the ad above.

Cats that cannot smell may not eat, and cats that are sick with upper respiratory infections or have congested nasal cavities often lose their appetites. When developing new products, pet food companies research appetite-stimulating odors along with tastes.

These manufacturers know that when cats approach unfamiliar food, they will sniff it first; if they don’t like what they smell, they won’t even taste it. Pet food manufacturers use this information and try to maximize palatability when formulating diets for cats.

  • Offer canned cat food. It has more aroma than dry, so sick cats are more apt to eat it.
  • Warm up food in a microwave. Heating food helps but don’t let it get too hot or remain in the microwave for too long because it can change the texture enough for your discerning cat to notice. Only 1 out of my 5 cats will eat anything heated for more than 8 seconds so they notice something that I don’t.
  • Try baby food (without onion powder). Baby food has a strong smell and may help entice a sick or poorly eating cat. Tuna may also create an appetite in some cats, but it should not be used as an exclusive diet long term because it lacks taurine and other nutrients necessary for your cat’s health.
  • Rotate 3 or 4 favorites with your finicky cat. I’m grateful that only two of my six cats are finicky cats. Chanel will eat 4 different items but never more than one day of the same thing. Revlon will eat 3 things but never more than one day of the same thing, so I've found that if I rotate the choices it works for a while.
  • In between that rotation try out a new food so when one of the choices falters, you have a replacement. It helps to have a cat like Max Factor that will eat all the new items the finicky cats turn up their noses at.

  • Related Articles......

    Cat Behavior Problems

    Cat Nutrition

    Senior Cat Diets

    Return from Finicky Cats to Cat Health Homepage

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