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Why doesn’t my cat eat meat?

There may be several reasons why your cat refuses to eat meat?

Cats are typically meat-loving creatures of habit. Cats do not like changes in their routine or the food you provide for them, and most love to eat meat. 

However, at the same time, you may see your cat’s routine change in various parts of its life. Such as they nap in their usual place, then suddenly you cannot find them because they found a different place to sleep. After a few weeks, they may change again. All of a sudden, you notice that your cat now has three or four favorite places to take their nap.

I guess cats are not creatures of change until they want to make a change. If I am the one to change things around, my cats are not too accepting, and sometimes they go as far as to put up a real fuss until I put something back. Including the food they eat.

Cats are Traditionally Carnivores

Being a carnivore means that cats are meat-eaters. In the wild, cats depend on meat. Cats are natural hunters, and if they live in the wild, they are not beyond getting their meat from other animal kills like mice, bugs, squirrels, and even other cats. Cats do not have to fend for their meals in a domestic situation. They rely on their owner to give them fresh water and food daily. They can afford to become picky in their food preferences.

Even a domesticated cat hunts meat because cats are programmed to hunt. Your cat may bring you a mouse, a bird, or a bug at a time or two. I don’t believe that domesticated cats do this because they are hungry. When your cat does this, I firmly believe it is a thank you gift to show their appreciation and love for you. 

Cats come to trust that you supply them with all they need every day. Domesticated cats can become picky about what they eat and what type of dishes you serve their food and water. 

We found the following to be true in our 30-plus years of cat rescue and caring for cats. All cats, like human beings, are different. Cats think and behave differently. Cats like different things and will let you know what they want or do not want. Not all cats like the same things, including their food.

Cats Are Picky Creatures in Foods and Other Things

  • Some cats like eating table food, while others do not like table food. May I also say that it is not wise to offer your cat any type of table food? Your cat will experience a healthier life if they do not indulge in human nutrition. 
  • Some cats eat small kibbles. Other cats refuse to eat kibbles and prefer larger pieces of food.
  • Some cats eat out of metal cat dishes without a problem, while others refuse metal dishes and only eat or drink out of plastic or glass dishes. Cats have tiny barbs on their tongues which help them grab hold of their food. Dishes with a bit of a side help them scoop food up. Flat sauces or dishes do not do well, and the cat ends up pushing the food out and onto the floor.
  • Some cats who eat moist food only eat pate. Other cats hate pate and only eat meaty shreds, meaty bits, or filets.
  • Some cats eat only a teaspoon of food. Others beg for more and are not satisfied until they finish off the can.
  • Some cats only eat first thing in the morning. However, our youngest cat, Lil’ Luke, must go outside, run a bit, get into trouble first, in preparation for his breakfast of moist food.
  • Some cats eat in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Others get hungry at about 3 am. And, yes, we make sure they have a bit extra to eat at this hour.
  • Some cats eat only moist food and hate dry food. Other cats eat only dry food and hate moist food. Some cats expect both dry and moist food.
  • Some cats prefer fish, while others do not eat fish but like chicken or turkey. None of our cats especially like beef. Some accept cat food, quail, rabbit, or duck, and others, no way! It is hard to understand why a cat would refuse meat or fish. And harder to understand cats altogether.

Do I offer table foods for our cats?

A. Yes, at one time, we did. Our cats continue to beg at the dinner table worse than a dog until we finally give in to their demands. A couple of our cats and our budget paid the price when they got sick. 

Human foods contain too many additives, preservatives, chemicals, herbs, spices, and other things that can be toxic to their bodies. Never take the chance of giving your cat table food. Your budget will suffer when you have to make vet appointments to fix the mess that table food made out of your cat’s digestive system. 

When we come home with our weekly groceries, most of our cats meet us at the door and follow us to the kitchen. These cats stick their noses in each bag and are very interested in what we bought. They do not leave our side until every item is put away. 

We always have a circle of cats sitting in our kitchen at mealtime, keeping a close eye on our every move. These cats can smell out meat packages, and if they could tear open the packages and take a bite, they would most certainly do so. They wait with bated breath hoping we will drop a morsel of meat. 

I do not give our cats meat. However, if I bake chicken, fish, or hamburger with absolutely no spices, herbs, salt, or pepper, I may cut them into two or three tiny pieces, and they highly enjoy this. This is just enough to satisfy them and stop the begging. I do not make a habit of giving them our meat.

Cat Food Meat Contains Special Nutrients 

If your cat does not eat meat, it is better because meat does not contain the essential nutrients found in cat food formulas. These essential nutrients found in cat food are in the right amounts for your cat, such as, 

  • Arachidonic acid for wound healing
  • Taurine for healthy eyes and heart
  • Vitamins A, B, B12, D, E, K
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous
  • Sodium Chloride (Please do not give your cat salt as this can damage kidneys)
  • Magnesium

Inexpensive Cat Food Versus More Expensive Brands?

There are unlimited brands of cat food on the marketplace today that contain meat. Early in our years of caring for cats, we bought the cheaper cat food brands. By no means will these more inexpensive foods kill your cat. However, over time, these inexpensive foods tend to affect the health of your cat. Cheaper cat foods contain a lot of grain, fillers, and chicken meal. There is a high level of these ingredients in inexpensive cat food versus more expensive cat food brands. 

The more expensive moist and dry cat foods do not include grains, fillers, chicken meal, meat by-products, GMOs, additives, or preservatives. Learn to read the labels on the cat food you buy. The first ingredient listed in any cat food is that food’s highest ingredient. 

For example, if the label reads chicken, salmon, peas, sweet potatoes, etc., that food contains mainly chicken. If the label reads chicken meal, meat by-products, and grain (usually listed individually) with no mention of meat, that brand does not contain meat and mostly chicken meal. Because cats are carnivores, they are more satisfied with real chicken, salmon, turkey, lamb, duck, etc., as the main ingredient. This brand of food seems to satisfy their hunger for meat and their appetite.

As an added note, if you do not know what meat by-products are, they are all the parts of the beef, chicken, turkey, or fish that you would not normally eat, such as the non-rendered parts of the animal. 

Meat by-products do not include hair, teeth, hoofs, or horns. These meat by-products are OK and deemed suitable pet food ingredients by the higher powers. However, I will not feed any of my beloved furry friends meat by-products because I believe that, eventually, these ingredients cause our pet health issues. Meat by-products include the following. 

  • Lungs
  • Spleen
  • Kidneys
  • Brain
  • Liver
  • Blood
  • Bones
  • Fatty tissue
  • Stomach
  • Intestines

What is a Responsible Pet Owner?

All pet owners may believe differently what pet responsibility means, which is alright. After 30 years of feline ownership, the following is what I think it means to be a responsible pet owner. Being a responsible pet owner goes beyond the subject of meat in the life of your cat.

  • You purchase a healthy brand of cat food where the first ingredient is fish or meat, and it has a variety of vegetables and fruits.
  • You take your pet to be neutered or spayed.
  • You see that your pet has a yearly wellness exam.
  • You get your pet the essential vaccinations recommended by your vet (use common sense.)
  • You do not allow your cat to run in the neighborhood.
  • You do not declaw your pet. (my personal belief is against this practice)
  • You treat your cat monthly with a good flea program.

At the end of all things said, do not be too concerned if your cat does not eat meat. There are plenty of dry and moist food brands in the marketplace to try on your cat. Perhaps you have not found what your pet likes to eat. Have you ever dealt with a picky kid, friend, or relative? Never invest in a large amount of cat food trying to find what Fluffy likes. Pet stores often have sample packages available to try, so you can see if your cat likes the food first. You quite possibly have not found the brand they like. 

Consider the dishes you usually put cat food on as a last thought. Most cats will accept glass dishes. It may not be the fact that your cat does not like meat; it may be how you serve the meat. Anything is worth a try.