Feed picky-eating cats outside sometimes to encourage eating

This is a tip borne out of personal experience and as expected it applies to indoor/outdoor cats. It is sort of a personal, one-cat, study. It was conducted quite scientifically. A lot has been written about so-called ‘picky’ feeding cat companions describing the cat who leaves food in the bowl or turns up their nose at what is usually their favorite food.

Feed fussy eating indoor-outdoor cats outside in the backyard sometimes to encourage eating
Feed fussy eating indoor-outdoor cats outside in the backyard sometimes to encourage eating
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If my cat leaves some really nice wet food in the bowl which might otherwise go to waste, I put it outside in the backyard. He invariably finishes it off a few hours later.

So, what is going on? Well obviously, this only applies to indoor/outdoor cats only or cats allowed outside within a secure garden enclose. It might work for cats that enjoy a catio.

The key as I see it is that when the domestic cat ventures outside, they revert to a large extent to their inherited wild cat character.

They are defending their territory and are alert for prey animals. The wild side comes out on top. In that mode the bowl of food that they unexpectedly encounter becomes a discovered dead prey animal to be devoured. They may well show no hesitation in finishing the bowl of food that they walked away from earlier. No guarantees but worth a try.

Another factor is that putting food outside is a break with routine. Life can become very predictable for a well-cared for domestic cat. Their whole day is built on a predictable routine which is nice for them as it is reassuring but just occasionally the routine should be broken in a kind way to mentally stimulate and present a little challenge.

The other classic tips to get cats too feed more enthusiastically are:

  • Microwave the wet food (not dry!) for about 5 seconds to warm it which makes it smell stronger. Sometimes wet food left out for an hour or two can be more attractive to cats as it smells stronger too. Watch out for flies laying eggs! 🙄
  • Puzzle feeders for dry foods. These present a small challenge making the food more interesting. I think the MO of puzzle feeders is similar to what I’ve mentioned above about putting the food in the garden. Both stimulate the wild cat brain within the domestic cat which stimulates the feeding drive.

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