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Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 21387
Experience:  Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
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I have 2 cats that were on dry food their whole lives (8 and

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I have 2 cats that were on dry food their whole lives (8 and 12 years old). We recently changed to can food cause it is just healthier. The issue is that both of them just lick the wet food. They don't bite into it. So what happens is they lick whatever liquid there is and leave the bulk of the pate. Needless to say they are constantly hungry. They seem to like the food they just don't know how to eat it. Anything I can do?

Hi Gene and welcome back to Just Answer!

My name is XXXXX XXXXX it will be my pleasure to assist you and your kitties today.

My apologies that you had not received an earlier answer.

Food transitions are always difficult, as most cats are very picky about what foods they'll eat. I can make the following suggestions: first, try very slightly warming their portions of wet food in the microwave; mix and then test with a clean finger for any 'hot spots' before serving. Serve small meals at first, and if they start eating, give more frequent smaller meals. You can always move up to increased amounts, less frequently. I believe in feeding cats with canned food, 3 times a day.

Next, try serving the food not in a bowl, but on a flat plate, like a teacup saucer or a little bigger 'salad' sized plate (glass or ceramic). Mash the food down with a fork, spreading it evenly across the plate and add some tuna water from canned tuna or clam juice mixed in with the food. The fishy smell will attract them and if you mix it in with the food, they can't just lick it off the top; however, you can pour a little of the liquid over the top after mixing it in with the food.

If you still have no success, try offering some of the food on your finger and if they like it, keep moving your finger down toward the food a little bit at a time, so they see it's the same thing that's on the plate.

Another idea is to mix the wet food with a small amount of the dry food they're used to. Of course, cats are very adept at eating 'around' the food they don't like, so don't be surprised if they might pick out the dry and leave the wet food.

It's important that your cats eat on a steady basis or they will not be getting proper nutrition and this can lead to a serious liver condition called hepatic lipidosis. Typically, they will eventually eat when they're hungry enough, but they can be stubborn and hold out for a while. Of course, you don't want them to become sick if they need to become used to the canned food.

If you did a sudden change from the dry to the wet, start from square one and offer their dry food with a very small amount of wet, mixed in. Every day, add a little more of the wet food and less of the dry. See how it goes. Once they taste the wet food 'by accident', they might like it and start eating it exclusively when you serve it without the dry food. Another important point about wet food; if they don't eat it or don't finish it, you can't leave it out all day like dry food. It contains meat and must be refrigerated, so if they don't eat all their food (even when it's mixed with the dry), you can either refrigerate it and warm it in the micro when you re-serve or pick it up after about 40 minutes and throw it away. Typically, if a cat eats, then leaves the food, if they don't return within about 20 minutes, it means they're finished with the meal.

Please try all my suggestions and let me know if they helped.

I hope all will be well with your kitties!

If you need any additional information or clarification, simply click 'Reply' before rating and I will be happy to continue our conversation.

If my answer has been helpful, a Positive rating and Positive feedback on the survey would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Laughing

If you would like to request me to answer any new, future questions, please begin your post with "For Cher Only" and I will respond as soon as possible.

Thank you for entrusting your important question about your kitties to Just Answer!

Warmest regards,
Cher and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Hi Gene,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Max. How is everything going?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Better. I think I found another part of the problem. There seems to be a pecking order to which cat gets to eat first. Senior male, younger male, older female, then youngest female. What I noticed is our female would always defer to the 2 males as to who eats first. So they would chow down and she would get the crumbs. So I thought I would get each their own dish - problem solved, right? Nope... even though there were separate bowls if they were all in sight of each other she would still not partake. The final answer was to put her in a room all by herself with a closed door so she would feel safe while chowing down.

Hi again, Gene and thanks for your reply with an update on your kitties!

I'm so glad to hear that things are going better! Laughing

Yes, there usually is a pecking order when it comes to eating, especially if they're sharing a bowl. Getting them each their own dish was a wonderful idea. Too bad it didn't make her feel confident enough to eat with her companion cats. Putting her in a separate room by herself was the best idea! You are a very smart cat-parent! : )

I hope things continue to go well!

Warmest regards,
Cher and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you