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.. Encouraging a cat to eat & drink

 

 

• If a cat is not eating as they usually do after a couple of days, you should call a vet for advice.


 

Try different cat foods, some prefer dry, some prefer seafood etc. This may not be simply a cat being "fussy", the animal may be feeling very insecure (they may not be keen on changes) so the scent, taste and presence of something familiar may trigger eating. Ask the re-homing center or cattery s/he came from what food the cat ate there.

• Leave the animal in peace with their food, your anxiety & attention to their appetite could relay to them that something is wrong or that the food is not safe to eat.

They need to be left alone to investigate it, & probably think about its safety for a while before they might taste it (they may even feel that its a trap if you are too attentive to their actions).

• Try warming the food up just a little, this will release flavour, odours & can make a meal more appealing. Cats do not have as many taste buds as we do. Naturally, a cats prey is body temperature, so food coming directly from the fridge may not make as much sense to a cat. Flavour & smell can become subdued by cold. (they could even have sensitive teeth)

• Some cats will eat with company & attention, provided that it is a trusted presence. As kittens learning to eat solids, their mother will place food in front of her neonates for them to eat. They will not eat unless she does this. An insecure cat may have reverted to fearful kittenish behaviour & can need reassurance that the food is safe to eat. You can pretend to eat some of the food yourself - if the cat is beginning to trust you. Sometimes relaxing or even laying down nearby so the cat can see you eating your own food, will reassure the cat to join in & eat their own meal. Try to avoid too much eye contact, make sure to blink & yawn, this will portray that you are relaxed. Some cats will be comforted by encouraging strokes, but it all depends on the personalities and the situation. 

• Sprinkling a little catnip over food can sometimes encourage tasting & then eating, but not too much & only once or twice if it is working.

• Flavourful food on the end of a spoon, gently offered to a cat may trigger taste buds. Do this while keeping as low to the ground as possible, there is no way of standing upright & towering over a cat without imposition.

Good quality commercial catfoods such as Applaws can be very tempting, particularly their tuna varieties. This sort of food can be very rich however, so if a cat is not used to rich wet food, too much can make them sick. It may be best to use just a little as a appetite trigger for a more bland diet at first. If it works, you could try mixing a little into their less interesting food.

It is important to avoid giving cats Tuna in oils, brine or salt water which has been tinned for humans! They are not poisonous, but cats systems do not deal well with added nutrients, this can be bad for their health & wellbeing.

• Some cats will respond to a little cheese, ham or chicken breast meat.

(Cheese should only be given as tasting/eating triggers, cats can have difficulty digesting lactose which can cause them unknown discomfort)

(Ham isn't ideal as cats can find it hard to digest, this is why you SHOULD never find cat food with pork in it. A little used for triggering tasting/eating is ok though)

Plainly cooked chicken breast meat, is very easy for cats to digest & is recommended for sensitive stomachs

Warning - never give an animal anything cooked which could have any bones or bone fragments in it! When cooked, bones become brittle and can splinter dangerously if bitten. Sharp objects can be lethal if ingested.

• A little specially formulated cat milk, can also be left down for them as a treat. (this should never be a substitute for fresh water!)

 

Cats could be put off their food because of health reasons, anxiety & stress, if the food is not fresh, or they are bored of it

Cats could be put off their food because of health reasons, anxiety & stress, if the food is not fresh, or they are bored of it

The licking of lips can be a sign of hunger, but also anxiety

The licking of lips can be a sign of hunger, but also anxiety

Watching a cat eat can make them self conscious & may put them off

Watching a cat eat can make them self conscious & may put them off

Leave food near their safe den & leave the cat in peace with it, don't pressure them

Leave food near their safe den & leave the cat in peace with it, don't pressure them

Fresh water must always be available, even if you don't see them drinking it

Fresh water must always be available, even if you don't see them drinking it

Tasty treats offered with a spoon can be a way of acclimatising a nervous cat to you

Tasty treats offered with a spoon can be a way of acclimatising a nervous cat to you

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