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We all have favorite foods, but felines are notoriously fussy when it comes to what they will or won’t dine on.
And they’ll often decide not to like something — at the precise moment when you were convinced that you'd finally found the one food they loved.
What’s the deal with these finicky kitties?
According to veterinary nutritionist Dr. Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD, DACVN, of the
William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis, there are a few possible reasons for choosy kitties, including the way they were fed as kittens, bad associations with certain foods or cats just being cats.
“Cats that have been fed a variety of foods are more likely to try something new when offered,” Dr. Larsen says. Conversely, a cat repeatedly fed the same food will develop a preference for that food, which can be difficult to change.
And, sometimes, your kitty just may not be as hungry as you thought.
“The reputation for being finicky may be related to the fact that many
cats, especially those
who live indoors, have low energy requirements and don't need to eat much food to maintain their weight,” Dr. Larsen says.
She points out, however, that some cats can lose their appetites when they don’t feel well, so it’s important to get your picky eater checked by a veterinarian. “Because the
signs of illness in cats can be subtle,” Dr. Larsen says, “it can be difficult to determine which occurred first — reduced appetite and finickiness or illness.”
Unlike a lot of species, felines don’t go for sugar or salt, but according to Dr. Larsen, they do like the flavor of protein and amino acids. “Many cats will also prefer foods with higher moisture content, unless they have been
fixed on dry food,” Dr. Larsen says.
In the wild, some cats have natural preferences, so it can be normal for cats — just like people — to have favorite flavors and textures. “One study showed that the wild cats in a region in Spain eat primarily rabbits when available,” Dr. Larsen says, “yet they can successfully switch to rodents if rabbits are lacking.”
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