Cats have strong personalities – they know what they want and when they want it. That is why we love cats. But this trait can sometimes be baffling when it comes to cat food. Cats are picky about what they eat, which leaves it up to you to figure out what they like. And it can be heartbreaking when your cat is avoiding their food bowl or picking at their meals.

Never fear – we’re here to help. There are several reasons why cats may not be eating what's on their plate, and not all of it has to do with the food. In this article, we explore what you need to consider beyond a cat food list and how to get your cat lapping up their meals.

Know your cat’s eating habits

All cats have specific eating habits that suit them. Remember, cats are predatory animals and so their eating habits reflect that. Cats usually like to eat at dawn and at dusk, which are the quieter times in the day. Some cats like to pick at their meals slowly, eating snatches here and there, so it is important to make sure the food is kept out for them.

Also know what kind of cat food your cat likes. It does not have to be fancy food – what you can pick up from the cat food shop near you – but it does have to healthy and to their preference. Some cats have very specific preferences about wet food or dry food, so make sure you know what they like.

Knowing your cats eating habits makes it easier to understand why they may now suddenly not be eating. It allows you to better pinpoint the problem.

Has there been a sudden change in diet?

Some cats are easy-going about their food – give them anything and they will love it. Others, however, can be very picky about their diets. Routine especially is very important. Whether you buy your cat food online or feed them a homemade diet, cats tend to like a regime. Change the regime and they tend to view everything with suspicion.

If you plan to change their diet for some reason – perhaps because you have found cat food that is better for them or because the vet recommended a change in diet – make sure you introduce the change gradually, over three to four days.

Your cat may be ill

Sometimes, what looks like fussy eating may just be a loss of appetite. Loss of appetite happens for various reasons in cats, and can be caused by vitamin deficiencies or by certain illnesses. Dental problems , for instance, can affect your cat’s appetite, as it may be difficult to chew. Digestive issues or more serious illnesses, such as liver disease, may also cause low appetite. If you are worried, take your pet to the vet. A medical professional is always better placed to identify the problem.

You haven’t placed their food bowl in the right place

It is easy to see picky eating as related to your cat’s diet. Perhaps you’re worried about the cat food online. But there is a lot more to your cat’s food regime than what is in the bowl. Cats are natural predators, which means they like their privacy when eating. This evolved as a precautionary measure out in the wild – you do not want to be caught unawares while eating – and persists in house cats today. If your cat seems hesitant to go towards their food bowl, try moving it to a quieter place or one that is less visible.

Cats are also very clean creatures with a sensitive sense of smell. If your cat’s food bowl is near their litter tray, they may also be reluctant to go near it. In such cases, simply changing the bowl’s position can create wonders.

Is the food still good?

Cats have very sensitive noses. This means that smell plays a crucial role in their eating experience. If the food smells great, they are more likely to eat it! Even when you buy cat food online, always try and serve food at room temperate so that it smells more aromatic.

If food has sometimes been left out too long, it can spoil. Cats can usually smell this, and will definitely be able to taste it. If cats suspect the food is not good, they will steer clear of their feeding bowls and look for a meal elsewhere. This is a good thing; Make sure you change any left over food in the bowls so that it is always fresh.

Your cat has been feasting at another person’s table

Oh, it happens. Cats are exploratory animals and often seek out new and novel tastes. If your cat has suddenly lost its appetite for a diet they usually adore, it is probably because they have found something else that has caught their fancy. This is common among outdoor cats, as they can often eat from other cat’s food bowls or be fed by friendly neighbors.

In such cases, you need a cat food list and some detective work. Find out what your cat has fallen in love with. Try a range of foods until you pinpoint the problem. Then you can gradually mix that food item into your cat’s regular diet to get them back to that food bowl.

The balance of nutrition in your cat’s food is not right

Cats can be very sensitive to the balance of nutrition in their food. As obligate carnivores, cats need a high percentage of meat in their diet—they cannot live without it (read more here). They need to amino acids in meat-based protein to survive. New research has shown that cats prefer foods with a high ratio of protein to fat, and can be picky about food that doesn’t meet this standard.

So do not take it personally if your cat turns up their nose at their food. It just means they are looking out for their health—which makes your job easier!