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A question about feeding finicky cats...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm a newer member so I guess I'll start off by giving just a little background information about me and my kitties before jumping right into the question.

I am the very proud mommy to 2 cats named Cassidy and Delaney. Cassie is a 1 year old, female, medium-haired, orange and white tabby. She is spayed, up-to-date on her vaccinations, and just under 7 pounds. She is healthy with her only known health issue being mild gingivitis. Delaney is about 11 months old and is also female. She is a domestic short hair and is a brown and white tabby. She is very petite at just 5 pounds (though she is rapidly growing now that she is healthy and in a nurturing environment) and is spayed, up-to-date on her vaccinations, and healthy. Both girls have had issues with upper respiratory infections (possibly herpes), but are currently not showing any signs or symptoms. They are your typical young cats -- spunky, playful, and super sweet. And I couldn't be happier!

But, that being said, I wish I could be happier with their diet. Both Cass and Laney came from the same shelter, but were adopted separately at different times. However, since they were at the same shelter, they were both being fed the same diet -- Hill's Science Diet: Healthy Kitten Development. Once I brought Cassidy home, I immediately wanted to switch her to a better quality food such as the Wellness I had been previously feeding my RB kitty, Hank. However, Cass wanted nothing to do with the Wellness, the Chicken Soup for the Kitten Lover's Soul, or any of the other healthier options I looked into. I even tried Nutro, Purina One, and various other brands of dry and moist food without avail. The only dry food she will touch is the Science Diet and while it's frustrating to me, I suppose it's better than the alternative -- her not eating at all. And with Delaney the situation is the same...

I have tried slowly weaning them from the Science Diet to a better quality food, but each time I even attempt to mix it in with their regular dry food, the only food that is eaten is the Science Diet. I've also tried offering both types of food in separate dishes and that, too, stands alone. I've tried different flavors, mixing it in with their wet food, and only offering the better quality dry food, but with each attempt it's much of the same. That all being said, I'm finally coming to the realization that my kitties might just be as stubborn and picky as I am and that I need to focus on what they will eat rather than what they won't. But is this an okay stance to take? Or should I be continually trying to manipulate their food tastes (to my wallet's detriment and their discontentedness)?

I should also say that I do free feed the Hill's Science Diet (a 50/50 mix of the Kitten Healthy Development formula and the Adult Optimal Care formula) along with a 3 ounce can (per cat) of either Fancy Feast, Friskies, or Whiskas wet food. I've also tried the better quality wet foods on Cass and Laney, but they will let it sit whereas with the above brands they are at least getting in some nutrition and moisture. They eat well so long as I cater to their tastes, but I worry about the effect it's going to have on their health in the long-term. While I know Science Diet is certainly not ideal, am I doing the right thing by feeding them what they will eat?

I do provide healthy treats where possible and I also supplement, on occasion, with a raw diet and other natural foods. They are steadily gaining weight at this point and also receive Lysine supplements to help assist repair and protect their immune system due to their possible past herpes infection. My vet is happy with where they are physically and they are apparently healthy, but it doesn't hurt to ask questions and explore alternative options, either. And that's what I'm doing here...

How have you cat owners dealt with the finicky eaters in your life? And, do you think I'm on the right track here or do I need to take another look at what may or may not be right for my girls?

I love my kitties to pieces and want to do all that I can to protect their health so that they will be healthy, happy, and, well, living, for as long as possible. So, that all being said, any suggestions?
post #2 of 14
Originally Posted by Alison Joy View Post
How have you cat owners dealt with the finicky eaters in your life? And, do you think I'm on the right track here or do I need to take another look at what may or may not be right for my girls?

I love my kitties to pieces and want to do all that I can to protect their health so that they will be healthy, happy, and, well, living, for as long as possible. So, that all being said, any suggestions?
I have a senior cat who is VERY picky. We've tried quite a few different foods. Earlier this year we tried a bunch, including Wellness because it has Glucosamine in it. We tried some with less ingredients and some with more ingredients. All ended in diarrhea or barfing or both. Nabu put his foot down. For us it's Iams Healthy Naturals or we have issues (he also likes/does well on Iams Digestive care). It works, they like it, and everyone is doing well. So that's what we're feeding. Stimpy is my only cat who can eat anything and not have problems, the other 2 have pretty sensitive systems. I know I don't feed a well liked food on this board, but it works for my cats.

My opinion: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Some cats do really well on Science diet.
post #3 of 14
Originally Posted by littleraven7726 View Post
My opinion: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
I think there's something to that. You could feed the highest quality food available (whatever that is - there is certainly lots of debate on that topic!), but if your cats won't eat it, what's the point? You have to go with what works for you.
post #4 of 14
Originally Posted by motoko9 View Post
I think there's something to that. You could feed the highest quality food available (whatever that is - there is certainly lots of debate on that topic!), but if your cats won't eat it, what's the point? You have to go with what works for you.
yes, so true your cats overall behavior and appearance will give you a good idea if what your doing is working for them, their simply is no perfect food.
post #5 of 14
After almost a year of trying to convince my boy (also adopted) to eat premium wet, I say just give them what they will eat!

My first cat thrived on Fancy Feast and Friskies dry--a stray who adopted me and lived to almost 20.

I think if the cat is basically healthy, any reputable food that the cat will eat is OK. I know that my guy is very clear about what he will eat--and won't eat.
post #6 of 14
I also agree with that is they eat it and do well on it, I wouldn't stress on it. Many cats thrive on friskies, cat chow, Science Diet, etc.... One of my cats can't handle high quality, he gets the runs from it.
post #7 of 14
I went through this with a border collie. I'd give her a food, she'd eat it for a couple days, then not anymore. I went through SO many bags just to find something she'd eat. It finally dawned on me, she's not gonna die if she skips a couple meals. I finally just picked a food that I wanted to feed, and told her to eat it or starve, I didn't care anymore (I was so fed up and was NOT going to eat kibbles and bits, which would have been her choice). She protested, but she ate it eventually. She's not picky anymore. My dachshund came to me eating pedigree dry and canned. She tried this too, but I didn't give in. She eats anything now.

Cats are the same, just give them food. They will eat it. No healthy animal will starve itself when food is available.
post #8 of 14
Have you considered trying canned food rather then the dry. Have you tried Natural Balance? Most all cats will eat the NB. Science Diet dry is crappy food.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
I appreciate all of the responses, experiences, and suggestions that have been offered. This has been a difficult situation for me as I strongly believe in providing animals with the best, nutritionally sound food available. And I've done a tremendous amount of research regarding feline (and canine) nutrition. However, my cats don't seem to have the same feelings as I do when it comes to nutrition .

To reiterate, I do feed my cats wet food on a daily basis. They each receive a 3 ounce can of wet food each evening in addition to the dry food they are free-fed. I am not convinced that going to an all-wet diet would be appropriate for my girls although this has been something I've been discussing with my veterinarian. It has been a struggle to get my cats to eat wet food at all as it appears their preference is naturally the dry food. And being that they are so finicky about food, I'm not necessarily willing to rock the boat -- especially since their condition overall has finally improved. As far as the wet food I am feeding, it is certainly not the best quality, but, again, is the only food that I can get them to eat. They typically eat Fancy Feast although I frequently feed Friskies or Whiskas to break up the monotony. The rotation of types and brands of food seems to keep them interested and, therefore, I've found that by doing this they are eating well consistently. I have tried other canned and pouched food such as Wellness, Merrick, and Natural Balance among others, but it is much of the same and rather than eating a healthier food they are choosing to not eat at all. And, to me, that's not solving the problem but rather adding to it...

As far as dry food is concerned, I have tried the Natural Balance and it sits untouched. I've researched a number of different foods and have purchased them, fed them, and tried to problem-solve when it became apparent that the Cassidy and Delaney would refuse to eat them. But, it's been to no avail. Unfortunately, the only food they will eat consistently and well is the Science Diet. I am aware that it is not the best food available today, but it's the only thing that I've found thus far that they will eat. And, after further discussion with my veterinarian and another I consult with regularly who deals with holistic medicine and nutrition, it has been decided that it is better to continue on with what they will eat than force a food on them which will mess with their digestive systems and possibly cause them to lose condition. And while Science Diet has never been my first choice, my girls ultimately have made the decision that this is what they are going to eat and, despite my best efforts, I'm not going to change that.

The discussion has turned to the possibility of feeding the better quality food despite the probability that my cats will leave it untouched. In some situations I agree that forcing a particular food on an animal is appropriate for their health and needs. However, at this point in time, I'm not willing to stand back and watch my cats potentially refuse food because I want them to eat a higher quality product. Both of my girls came to me underweight and with some health issues (albeit minor in the grand scheme of things). Cassidy and Delaney are just now improving and maintaining an appropriate weight gain. I feel it is risky to switch their food at this time -- especially since they are responding well to what they're being fed presently. And while this may be an appropriate stance for some owners to take, I'm not willing to go this route with my cats. Perhaps in the future, but certainly not now...

I adore my cats and am trying to do all that I can in order to ensure their continued health and happiness. And while I would prefer for them to eat a better quality food, what's important is that they are thriving on what they are presently being fed. And, until I see evidence otherwise, I think we are on the right track. This decision comes after a lot of research, many discussions with my regular vet, and consultations with a holistic vet -- I'm not going this alone and will continue to try to do what I can in order to provide the best environment, nutrition, and care for my girls. It may not be the popular choice to continue feeding a lower quality food, but if it means my cats maintain condition and are healthy despite that fact then I am okay with it.

Again, I appreciate all of the input and feedback provided. It's helped spur a decision on my part and has certainly helped bring me comfort in all that I'm doing for Cass and Laney.
post #10 of 14
My picky-eater cat Toby was eating Science Diet dry at the shelter also. I bought a bag of it when I brought him home and then slowly transitioned him to Wellness dry which he loves. He eats a mix of Wellness Complete Deboned Chicken and Wellness Indoor. If you call Wellness, they'll send you a few samples and coupons. He also loves Fromm Chicken A La Veg dry and Fromm Surf & Turf dry. For wet, the only thing I can get him to eat is Fancy Feast Medleys.
post #11 of 14
You say you supplement with raw? In what way?

Just curious really. Is it possible to switch to an all raw diet or make raw a bigger portion?

I'm lucky that my boys will eat anything however, Harley is known to eat too fast, not chew and regurgitate. With raw, franken pray method, this never occurs.

post #12 of 14
I know you aren't convinced, but all wet really is best. If your can't wont eat any of the healthier dry foods, just ditch the dry food or feed the Science Diet on a very minimal basis.

I don't really know what else to tell you.
post #13 of 14
While IMHO Sd is junk food ... You feed the best you can afford and the CAT WILL Eat ... I have to agree with the IT aint broke dont fix it ... Many many cats have lived long healthy lives on "junk " food , may yours be in that group...

IMHO I have to agree trying more wet the low end wet IMHO is better than the dry
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Once again, I'd like to thank everyone for taking the time to read and respond to this thread. I so appreciate your experience, information, and support on this issue. And, while I only have a few moments to respond, I did want to make sure that I returned to this thread to answer some of the questions and concerns asked of me.

As far as feeding a raw diet is concerned, I'm not quite there yet. I have been researching raw diets and have spoken with a holistic vet about the possibility of switching to an all-raw diet in the future. However, for a number of reasons, it is not the right time for me to begin going this route. That being said, I have started to feed raw as a supplement to my girls' regular dry and wet food diet. The holistic vet recommended a product by Feline Future called Instincts TC. After much consideration, I did go ahead and purchase a small package of this product and follow their directions using chicken. Since then, I have been feeding 1/2 cup of the mixture to Cassidy and Delaney about 2-3 times per week. This has not been popular with either of my cats and that is part of the reason why I see this as more of a supplement. I am currently waiting for my next package to arrive and this time I will be using something other than chicken so, that too, may change this whole situation. In time, if the girls seem to be doing well with the raw diet mixture then I will work on increasing the frequency of raw meals. But, again, while the all-raw diet looks good on paper, I don't want to rush into something that is not right for Cass, Laney, or me. But it is something that I'm strongly considering and researching and in a couple of weeks I may be considering going all-raw, but, for reasons stated above, we're not quite there yet...

As far as going to an all-wet cat food diet, I'm not ready to go in that direction either. And that comes at the advice of my veterinarian as well as my feelings on the issue. However, as of last night, I have increased the wet food that they're eating from one 3 ounce can per cat each day to one-and-a-half 3 ounce cans (totaling 4.5 ounces) per cat each day. I, myself, am concerned about the lesser quality Science Diet dry cat food offers and so I'm willing to make small adjustments as need be until a more permanent decision is made.

All of the opinions and suggestions offered here have given me a lot to think about and consider. I'm not planning on rushing into anything, but I'm able to make some small changes in the meantime to ensure that Cassidy and Delaney are each receiving care and nutrition that meets their individual needs as well as mine. I am meeting with the holistic vet once I return from my business trip next week to continue discussing feline nutrition and I may make difference decisions following that meeting, but for now, I stand by my statement that as long as Cass and Laney are doing well and maintaining condition, that I don't need to immediately make drastic changes to their diet.

I hope I answered the questions or concerns asked of me, but if you find that you have additional thoughts or comments, feel free to PM me and I will try to get back to you as quickly as possible. Unfortunately I can't take the time to write more at the moment, but I will keep everyone posted as need be while I figure out what best suits my needs as well as those of Cassidy and Delaney.
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