Raw Information and Resources

Feline Nutrition Foundation Archive

Feline Nutrition Home PageBeginner
Feline Nutrition's Easy Homemade Cat Food RecipeBeginner's Luck: Where Do I Start?How to Transition to a Raw Cat Food DietJust What is a Raw Cat Food Diet, Anyway?Easy Raw Cat Food for the Busy PersonYour Cat's Nutritional Needs: The BasicsThe Benefits of Raw Food for CatsThere's No Such Thing as a Vegan CatEight Effective Bribes for the Kibble AddictDon't Let Your Senior Cat Become a Skinny Old KittyThe Skinny on Senior Cats: Metabolism ExplainedSlimming Your Cat: What Works, What Doesn'tHigh Pressure Processing: The Future of Raw Cat Food?No Bull, Taurine Is a Must for KittyAdding Taurine to a Raw Cat Food DietHomemade Cat Food, a Balancing ActThiamine in Raw Food for CatsCalcium Supplements in Homemade Cat FoodDon't Let Calcium/Phosphorous Ratios Scare YouVitamin E: Liquid vs. PowderArginine: Essential and Abundant for Cat NutritionLysine and Raw Cat Food DietsCare to Compare? Wild vs. Domesticated PreySpooked By Salmonella: Raw Cat Food!Tips for Transitioning Your Finicky Kitties'Natural' vs. 'Grain-Free' Cat FoodFiguring Out the Carbs in Canned Cat FoodTake Heart, But Not Too MuchThe Case Against Cod Liver OilFeeding Kitten Food to an Adult CatRaw Cat Food vs. More FiberProbiotics, Digestive Enzymes and Raw Cat FoodRaw Cat Food and Kibble Don't MixFeline Nutrition: Who Bears the Responsibility?Pet Food and Feeding: Personal RuminationsReading a Pet Food Ingredient Label
Bio-Inappropriate: The Dangers of Dry Cat FoodFeline Diabetes: The Influence of DietFeline Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Nature and TreatmentFeline Hyperthyroidism: What You Need to KnowA Diet for Your Cat's Urinary and Kidney HealthConstipation: Real Help for Your CatPhosphorus Can Be Key for Cat KidneysWater, Water and Water Battles CrystalsFeline Cystitis and Bladder/Kidney StonesHigh Blood Pressure: Yes, Your Cat Can Get It, TooNutrition is Vital When Treating Feline LeukemiaFeline Pancreatitis: Signs of TroubleAnother Furball? It Might Be Feline AsthmaOpen Wide: The Basics of Kitty DentalsCat Scratch Fever: How It Affects CatsDiet and Your Cat's Cancer RiskChunks and Bones For Your Cat's TeethA Cat's Food Allergies and Intolerances ExplainedHow Toxoplasmosis Affects CatsAvoiding Hepatic Lipidosis in Your CatHow Raw Food for Cats Affects Blood Test ResultsGet Kitty Exercising to Trim DownSalmonella: The Chicken or the EggSafe Handling Practices for Raw MeatIf You're Feeling Stressed, So Is Your CatChoosing the Right Insulin for Your Diabetic CatA Veterinarian's View on Raw Cat Food: Andrea Tasi, VMD
Answers: What Exactly is an 'Obligate Carnivore?'Answers: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat's AppetiteAnswers: Why Won't My Cat Eat?Answers: Who Were Pottenger's Cats and Do They Matter?Answers: To Grind or Not to Grind Raw Cat Food?Answers: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat's TeethAnswers: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat's FurAnswers: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat's PeeAnswers: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat's GutAnswers: One More Reason to Ditch Dry Cat FoodAnswers: Do Cats Need Dietary Fiber?Answers: Cats in a Bind over PhosphorusAnswers: Let's Talk About Cat BarfAnswers: Making Raw Cat Food Kitty-SizedAnswers: Raw Food for Cats, What About Eating Bones?Answers: Getting Kitty to Like ChunkyAnswers: Are Exotic Meats Nutritious or a Novelty for Cats?Answers: Raw Food and Outdoor Cats, What About Worms?Answers: Take a Deep Breath and Cut the Mouse in HalfAnswers: The Stomach Contents of PreyAnswers: Flaxseed Oil for Kitty?Answers: Plant vs. Meat – The Protein Feud for Cat FoodAnswers: Kitty That Only Wants FishAnswers: Is It Okay for My Cat to Have Milk?Answers: Feed My Cat a Raw Egg Yolk?Answers: Raw Cat Food for My Cat's Mystery Allergy?Answers: Your Cat's Acid StomachAnswers: Cat Urine Ph, Why It MattersAnswers: Kittens Go Through Teething, TooAnswers: Raw Cat Food for All of Those Kittens!Answers: Why Did My Cat's Fur Get So Silky?Answers: Goaltending the Cat Food BowlAnswers: Who Are AAFCO and the NRC?Answers: Taking the Complexity Out of B Vitamins for CatsAnswers: The Paradox of Prescription Diets for Cats
How to Think Like a CatRaw Meaty Bones for Cats: Adult Supervision Required!Let Me Tell You About Raw Cat Food. Hey Come Back!But Kitty, What Nice Teeth You Have...Sasquatch vs. My CatI Worry About My CatYour Cat Worries About ThisYour Kitty May Need to Go to Chunk SchoolAre Cats Clandestine Consumers?Dry Cat Food – The Big EasyEight Cat CuriositiesCats and Cantaloupe: A Method to their MadnessThe Myth of the Finicky CatFalling Off the Cat Food Recipe CliffCat Daddy Talks Cat DietThe Popularity of Cat PoopThe Most Important Member, YouYou Said You Feed Your Cat, What?Oh! Those Dirty Little Kittens!It's My Cat's House, I Just Live ThereBlack Cats Are Not Unlucky at AllLessons From the Stoic CatIs There a Cat in the House?Rice Isn't NiceDon't Let it Bug You Kitty!Tell Your Cat to Chew on This!Cat Longevity and the Ultimate Test?Bug Patrol and Cat Stampedes: Life with Lots of CatsWhat Scraps?
Feeding Raw Food In Australia: What's Up Down UnderThe Cemetery Cats of Buenos AiresCats Are Paying Attention to Your FeelingsCheetahs in Captivity Need a Better DietIt Started With a Caracas Cat Named CaterpillarConsidering a Hybrid Cat?Tales from the Trenches: Feeding Kittens a Raw DietSaving Alistair: How Lyn Thomson Helped Stop IBD 11,000 Miles AwayRaw Cat Food Essentials and Fun Stuff, Too!There's No Kibble Served at the Big Cat RescueWhat Bob Dole Taught Me About Raw FoodAn Answer For Alex: Raw Food and Tight RegulationMangiare Crudo in Italia (Raw Fed in Italy)Melamine to Frankenprey: A Documented JourneyCould Everything We Know Be Wrong?A Brief History of Commercial Pet FoodWhen a Vegetarian Feeds A Raw DietRead Me! Great Books About CatsDuke's Story: Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseAdoption: What Should We Feed Our New Kitten?Malaysian Kittens Meet Frankenprey!Raw Food Co-ops: Make Buying Less Trying!Feeding Cats Ring Dings and Krispy Kremes
One Page Guides
Cats Are Cats!What Should You Be Feeding Your Cat?The Dangers of Dry FoodRaw Feeding for BeginnersTransitioning to a Raw DietEasy Recipe for Success
About Us
Welcome to Feline NutritionThe Feline Nutrition FoundationA Message from the FounderThe Feline Nutrition Foundation Mission StatementThe Feline Nutrition Team

Blog & Newsletter

Current Specials

Current Specials

This content is archived from the Feline Nutrition Foundation

The Myth of the Finicky Cat

Updated: Friday, May 24, 2019 05:43 PM
Published: Saturday, October 11, 2014 04:01 PM
Written by Margaret Gates

I'm often asked what to do when kitty doesn't want to eat the new raw cat food you're offering. I hear words like "stubborn" and "finicky." While that may describe what's going on, it's from a decidedly human perspective. I think it's time to delve into a little cat psychology to help us understand what's happening in that little kitty brain. People like to say they are creatures of habit. I would agree, but habit isn't quite the right word. They stick to what works. That kind of behavior makes a lot of sense for them. They learn what works pretty early in their lives. It's especially true when it comes to food. Notice I say "learn." While cats are predators and have a hunter's natural instincts, those instincts are basic. They learn the nuances and details as they grow up. All that play behavior is practice for the hunt. They may look like they're just having fun, but don't be deceived, this is How to Be a Cat 101 for them. They're practicing the skills they need to survive.

In the wild, a mom would bring prey – either already dead or close to it – back to her kittens. This is not only for practice in hunting, but also to learn what it smells, looks and tastes like. This prepares the kittens for what they will have to do for themselves. They are taking the skill set they are born with and applying it to the local fauna, whatever that might be. They are learning what works to stay fed. This is the single most important lesson they will learn, along with how not to get eaten. Even if they aren't consciously aware of it, their brains get it. These lessons get filed in the "remember this or die" category.

Your kitty probably didn't get those lessons, but she doesn't know that. She still took those early, first meals and dutifully filed them away as vitally important. With this in mind, it's a little easier to understand why some cats look at a new food in total puzzlement, not understanding that it's food. They've already learned what it takes to survive in the world they know. For them, changing what has worked so far probably seems like a very bad idea, indeed. This is why the younger a cat is when you try to transition them to raw cat food, the easier it usually goes.

Now that we have a better idea of what's going on in kitty's mind, you can see why "stubborn" doesn't apply. She's just good at being a cat – applying those successful life lessons to the real world. In fact, they are brilliant – at being cats. "Finicky" also doesn't apply. Look at what they eat in the wild – practically anything that moves and can be caught. As a species, they are anything but finicky. But once they learn what works as far as food is concerned, getting them to change can be hard.

All that said, they can learn to change. Any cat can. You just have to find what works for that individual. When I switched my clowder to raw food years ago, they all took to it right away, except for Kai. He absolutely refused to eat it. I tried mixing a little raw cat food into his canned, but he'd eat around it. He didn't understand this was food. He knew what food was – and this wasn't it. I tried a different tactic. I fed him his canned food on a plate and put a small spoonful of raw food next to it. I knew he wouldn't eat it, but that wasn't what I was trying to do. I wanted him to associate the subtle smell of the raw food with dinner. I knew he could learn. He had already proven he was very good at learning. I told him I could keep this up as long as was necessary. For three months, the raw food was on his plate at every meal, with no exceptions. For three months, he ignored it. But his cat brain, the part that can learn, wasn't ignoring it. One day, after those long three months, I turned around to find him wolfing down a plate of raw rabbit. He needed time to learn something new, or more accurately, to unlearn something he already knew.

Even Stanley, the Feline Nutrition logo kitty, had to be taught. She loved raw food for cats, but I couldn't get her to eat chunks of meat. This was important for her dental health, so I needed to do something about it. She seemed interested, but it was as if she didn't know how to eat it. It makes sense. She had only eaten meat that was ground up. She, too, had learned well what food was. I tried cutting the meat up into tiny cubes, and she still didn't know what to do. So, I picked up one of those little pieces and offered it to her on my finger. This got her interest. She ate it. Yes! I kept testing to see if she would eat it if I put it back on the plate. In the beginning, that didn't work. After a week or so, she would eat the little pieces from the plate. Over the next six weeks, I slowly upped the size of the pieces I gave her until she went for the bigger chunks. Now, she gnaws with the best of them.

So, if you're having trouble transitioning your cat, don't give up and don't get frustrated. Remember, the cat that seems stubborn is actually demonstrating she is good at learning. You just have to find the right way to help her.

Margaret Gates is the founder of the Feline Nutrition Foundation.