Cat not eating wet food? Explore the potential reasons for the newfound fussiness
Picture this: It’s lunchtime, and you’ve opened a tin of your cat’s favourite wet food, but there’s no pitter-patter towards the bowl! What happened? Has your cat gone off wet food, or is there an underlying cause for the sudden fussiness? Let’s find out!
A cat not eating wet food they’ve previously enjoyed could be a sign of health issues, but it's more likely a signal to shake things up in the kitchen. Even if we feed them tailor-made meals, our feline companions can grow tired of a repetitive menu.
Luckily, there are several ways to rectify the situation and get them back on a healthy semi-moist and moist food diet. Untamed is your greatest ally in the battle against picky eaters, and we’ll gladly share our knowledge of feline nutrition. Now let’s get your cat to eat wet food again!
Why won't my cat eat wet food anymore?
I said, I’m not hungry right meow! Do you not speak cat, human?
Source: Sergey Semin
Among commercially available types of cat food, wet food is the closest to the feline natural diet in terms of nutritional value. Whether they’re a Siamese purebred or an adopted stray kitten, your pet is an obligate carnivore, evolved to feast on meat. High-quality wet food contains the bioavailable nutrients cats would get from freshly slaughtered prey, minus the harmful bacteria found in raw food, such as undercooked meat or eggs.
Wet food is:
- Rich in animal protein and amino acids like taurine
- High in moisture
- Filled with natural vitamins and minerals
- Low in carbohydrates
Most vets recommend a predominantly wet-food diet because of the positive effect on feline health. So, what happens if your cat won’t eat wet food anymore? It’s best to look into the underlying cause of this behavioural change and start from there. Your feline companion may refuse to eat because of:
- Underlying illness
- Too many treats
They might be ill
A sudden change in your cat’s eating habits is a sign something may be wrong with their health. If your pet refuses to eat a particular product or suffers from overall appetite loss, keep track of their behaviour in the following days.
Don’t panic—if your cat’s not eating wet food, they might merely have an upset stomach. For example, they could’ve caught a mouse earlier and are suffering from indigestion.
If your cat’s not back to normal after a few days, and the appetite loss is followed by other symptoms (e.g., fatigue, fever, nausea, diarrhoea, etc.), there might be an issue with their health. Possible medical reasons your cat stopped eating wet food include:
- Gastrointestinal disease (e.g., IBS)
- Bowel obstruction
- Dental disease (e.g., tooth rupture)
- Kidney disease
- Viral upper respiratory infection (URI)
- Urinary tract disease (e.g., struvite crystals or cystitis)
Schedule an appointment with your vet and tell them about the symptoms you’ve noticed. They’ll perform a thorough physical examination to determine whether the reason your cat won’t eat wet food anymore is health-related.
They’re stuffed from snacking
Do you hand out treats regardless of the feeding schedule, i.e., whenever your feline friend shows their cute side? It’s time to put an end to this unhealthy habit! Too much snacking in between meals may be the reason why your cat won’t eat wet food.
Complementary food isn’t a problem when kept below 3% of the overall diet. Anything over that is not healthy or helpful. Giving cats treats willy-nilly can mess up their appetite and hinder their metabolism in the long run. Your cat might also start piling on the pounds and struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Uncontrollable weight gain can lead to several health conditions, most notably obesity and feline diabetes.
How do you incorporate snacks into your cat’s diet without overfeeding them? For starters, make sure to give them treats sparingly, no more than twice per week. The type of snack you choose is also important, e.g., you shouldn’t feed them “human snacks” like peanut butter or chocolate.
How about commercially available products? Most store-bought treats contain taste enhancers and other substances that make your cat go bonkers but serve no nutritional purpose. A healthier solution would be to give them high-fibre veggies and fruits, such as strawberries, pumpkins, apples, asparagus, and bananas, to help regulate bowel movement. Remember, while fibre is great for your cat’s gut—it shouldn’t take up more than 3% of their meals.
They’re bored with wet food
Cats are creatures of habit, but that doesn’t mean they enjoy having the same meal every day! Your feline companion may be tired of a particular product and is asking for more variety in their diet.
Another possible explanation is that your cat may have developed a preference for dry food. In that case, start mixing wet food with a few grams of kibble to get them to eat. Dry biscuits shouldn’t be the basis of your pet’s meal plan because of the high calorie and low moisture content, but a mixed diet will do the trick.
If your cat stopped eating wet food out of boredom, try adding different flavours into the mix. For example, once they’re fed up with chicken, switch to tuna or salmon recipes.
Combine gravy, pate, shredded meat, etc., and let your cat pick their favourites. Heating the food or adding soup or broth is another way to entice your picky eater to finish their meal. If you’re preparing a homemade meal, remember not to add any onions, garlic, or other allium veggies because they’re toxic to cats.
How can I get my cat to eat wet food?
Wet food is the best diet choice for your indoor cat, so trying to get them back into it is a worthwhile endeavour. If the reason behind their recent fussiness isn’t health-related, you can try the following tips:
- Mix wet food with other ingredients—You’ve tried switching brands, textures, and flavours, but your stubborn cat still won’t eat wet food? Add a few dry biscuits to their serving to trick them into eating. It doesn’t have to be kibble—any other ingredient will do the trick, as long as they like it and it’s feline-friendly! Your cat might gush over milk, but the high lactose content will give them an upset stomach. A splash of yoghurt or lactose-free milk would be fine, but it’s best to avoid dairy altogether and use something else
- Make sure the feeding bowl is always clean—Sometimes, the problem isn’t the food itself but the leftover smell in the bowl. Felines are notoriously picky about their feeding spot, so the slightest inconvenience might make them skip a meal. You should clean their feeding bowl thoroughly after each meal, especially when they’re having something hearty like fish broth
- Store the food according to instructions—If not stored correctly, wet food can go bad. That’s why many manufacturers use preservatives to extend the shelf life and maximise profits at the expense of the food's healthiness (an issue you won’t find with Untamed products). Your cat’s sharp senses can detect the questionable odour before you notice something's wrong, so trust their instincts. Also, remember to store any open tins of cat food in the fridge
- Impose a strict feeding routine—It’s possible your pet isn’t refusing to eat but has a bad habit of picking at their food, which is why they never finish their meal. Instead of allowing them to sniff at their plate for hours, try enforcing a strict routine. Make them realise they can’t be too picky with their meals by taking away their food after a limited period. Come up with a feeding schedule that’ll work and stick to it until the diva behaviour is corrected
- Provide a safe environment—If your cat stopped eating wet food, it might be because they’re stressed. Felines need a private, calm environment to feed, so you should leave them alone when they’re eating (unless your pet wants you to pet them)
Has your cat stopped eating wet food? Try Untamed and see them running towards the bowl!
Now that’s more like it! The flavour and texture are divine. My compliments to the chef.
Image (c) Untamed
Whether your pet is bored or stuck in “fussy mode,” Untamed is the solution to the problem. Our delicious recipes will get your cat back on wet food and have them asking for seconds!
We’ve worked hard to come up with the ultimate feline diet, ensuring each meal is:
- Full of protein—The protein content in a single serving of Untamed food is twice the industry standard. We don’t use plant protein, meat derivatives, or other useless or harmful substances—only the best animal protein for our feline delicacies
- Made with whole meat—We use premium meat cuts in our tasty and nourishing recipes. Each ingredient is of human-grade quality, and the final product is packed with bioavailable nutrients your cat needs to stay healthy
- Vet-formulated—Veterinarians designed our meals to meet your cat’s unique biological needs. Each serving is nutrient-dense and free of all known allergens
- Ethically produced—When we say we care about creating a better world for our feline friends, we mean it! Untamed packaging is recyclable. We get our ingredients from sustainable sources and leave a neutral carbon footprint
- Impossible to resist—Untamed meals are as tasty as they are nourishing. Watch your fussy eater twist their whiskers in anticipation when you open a tin of our gourmet cat food
We gently steam all our meals to make sure the original bioavailability of the ingredients is preserved during production. Because we don’t over-process our food, your cat will start feeling the Untamed effect soon after finishing their first dish! Here’s a breakdown of the short- and long-term health benefits our diet provides:
Within a week
After two months
Within four months
Check out our delicious recipes!
Untamed food is made with premium, ethically-sourced meat, such as:
- Chicken breast and liver
- Duck breast
- Salmon fillet
- Tuna steak
- Sardine and mackerel fillet
Our menu is marked by delicious recipes designed to provide nourishment and bring joy to our feline friends! The most popular products include:
- Chocka Chicken in Jelly—Extra moist chicken breasts soaked in jelly and light on the tummy
- Tuck-in Tuna in Jelly—Cruelty-free tuna simmered in jelly and hearty fish broth
- Chocka Chicken with Duck in Jelly—The ultimate poultry platter, high-quality chicken breast mixed with whole duck meat, served in jelly
- Tuck-in Tuna with Salmon in Jelly—Delicious whole meat tuna soaked in jelly and served with high-grade salmon fillet
- Chocka Chicken in Gravy—A delicious dish for the sensitive feline, made with shredded chicken breast and steamed in natural gravy
Take the Untamed online quiz and design the perfect menu for your fussy eater!
How to get a cat to eat wet food? Pop open a tin of Untamed’s Tuck-in Tuna in Gravy and watch them go wild!
Image (c) Untamed
How do I become a member of the Untamed community?
When you and your pet become members of the Untamed clowder, each meal will be a gourmet adventure! Check out our trial pack on our online cat food store—sign up for one and treat your cat to exciting feline delicacies every day. All you have to do is:
- Visit our Try Now page
- Tell us about your cat
- Select a meal plan and place the order
We'll deliver your custom-made meal box within a day, with no additional shipping fees! Once your cat samples everything, you'll start receiving monthly pre-portioned cat food boxes tailored to your kitty's preferences.
If you want to alter or cancel your order for any reason, you may do so from your account.
My kitten won’t eat wet food—have I done something wrong?
In the first few weeks of their lives, kittens depend on their mother for nourishment, meaning they feed solely on breast milk or kitten replacer formulas (KMR) if they’re fosters. Once they start eating solids at around week three, kittens require a balanced diet based on the following nutrient ratio:
Up to 20%
Less than 3%
Because the baby’s nutritional needs are different from those of an adult or senior cat, it’s best to feed them specially formulated kitten food. These recipes are designed to safeguard the kitten’s developing stomach and sustain their growth. While both wet and dry variants are available, moist kitten food is more nourishing because of the high protein and moisture content. Dry biscuits are also highly caloric and could mess with their weight.
The shift from KMR to solids can be difficult, so don’t be discouraged if your kitten won’t eat wet food at first! The taste and texture may be foreign to them.
Here’s what you can do to make the transition easier:
- Mix the wet food with kitten formula—If you soak the wet food in KMR, your baby cat will be drawn to the familiar aroma. As they get used to the new meal plan, gradually decrease the amount of KMR until there’s only wet food left in the bowl
- Try hand-feeding them—Your foster kitten sees you as a parental figure, which means you have their full trust. If you offer them a taste of wet food out of your hand, they’re more likely to accept it. Try dipping your finger in the juice and prompting them to sniff or lick it. Once they get used to the new product, you can start serving it in a bowl
- Use a small feeding bowl—Serve the wet food in an easily accessible bowl at room temperature (do not heat it up because it can upset their tummy). If you create a routine and safe environment, kittens are more likely to accept wet food. Smaller bowls will also help you get their portions right and prevent you from overfeeding
Remember these tips because you can use them when the time comes to switch to big cat food!
Whisker fatigue—causes and prevention
No thanks, mom, I’m not hungry. My whiskers feel wonky…
Image (c) Untamed
Besides adorning their visage, cat whiskers have an important sensory function. The tactile hairs pick up information from the environment, like smells and spatial layout, and send the signals directly to the feline’s central nervous system.
Since your pet’s whiskers are incredibly sensitive, they can become overstimulated. The overload of sensory information can result in “whisker fatigue”—a temporary condition affecting the cat’s appetite.
If your cat stops eating wet food and behaves strangely, for example, circles the bowl, meows loudly, paws at the food, or acts aggressively, they might be overwhelmed.
Get them a new feeding tray wide or flat enough for them to eat without brushing their whiskers on the sides. It may sound silly, but it’ll help ease their senses during mealtime and prevent whisker fatigue. Consult your veterinarian if your cat’s appetite doesn’t return after the switch and the strange behaviour continues.