International Cat Day: expert's guide to feeding fussy felines

Pet behaviourist shares her top five tips for getting your cat eating again

International Cat Day is on August 8
International Cat Day is on August 8

With International Cat Day almost upon us, it’s the purr-fect time to show our feline friends how much we care.

This annual celebration on August 8, which raises awareness of ways to help and protect cats, was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

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It also offers a timely moment to consider any issues around looking after your pet, such as eating.

Cats have gained a bit of a reputation for being fussy, particularly when it comes to food, but sometimes their eating habits (or lack thereof) can be a sign of something bigger.

Hunting activity is ingrained in a cat’s DNA and when this activity is taken away by simply providing food on a plate, it can have a knock-on effect.

“Cats are notorious for being independent pets and that doesn’t stop when it comes to their food,” said Caroline Spencer, pet behaviourist at raw pet food retailer Bella & Duke.

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"Feeding a picky eater can be frustrating when they turn their nose up at mealtime, try to understand what might be affecting this, it could just be something as simple as the placement of where the food is put.”

To get your fussy feline eating enthusiastically again, Caroline has shared her top tips:

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1 Understand your cat’s eating habits

Cats are naturally suspicious animals and new food can cause anxiety initially.

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Keep them interested by incorporating play, especially chasing or hunting activities, before mealtime.

Cats also prefer their food at the same temperature as “prey” would be in the wild. Before placing their food down on a feeding board or plate pop your cat’s meal into a bowl and place in warm water to replicate this.

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2 Find the right feeding location

Cats tend to be private creatures who like the quiet and generally don’t like to be watched while eating.

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Try to make sure the room they eat in is peaceful and free of activity during mealtime: no children running around, no radio playing or dishwasher running.

3 Add tasty additions

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Adding a favourite natural, dehydrated treat or a little bit of beaten raw egg to their food will encourage many fussy cats to get stuck in.

You could also sprinkle your fussy cat’s meal with antler powder, drizzle some bone broth over the top or even add a small amount of tinned sardines in spring water to enhance the aroma.

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4 Work out the best time to feed

Cats are mostly active at dawn and dusk and eat best in the early morning or late at night.

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Have you noticed your cat has an increased amount of energy just about the time you settle down for the evening? Give them a meal after this expenditure of energy and also put food out around dawn.

5 Find the right feeding surface

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Many will be surprised to hear that cats don’t like the smell of plastic or their whiskers touching the side of a bowl while they’re trying to eat.

Try serving their food on a wooden board, glass or ceramic plate instead. Make sure it’s spotlessly clean too – cats don’t like to smell old food while they eat.

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To learn more about Bella & Duke’s nutritional philosophy visit: www.bellaandduke.com