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Helping Your Cat Accept Fresh Food

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Helping Your Cat Accept Fresh Food

Cat's aren't picky. Changing your mindset on the situation makes it easier to take the time your cat needs to learn to eat a new type of food.

Cats are often called picky, but their instincts about food are an ancient safety mechanism. What kittens learn to eat when young is usually what they want to eat as adults. This includes the format of food, as dry-fed kittens usually grow up to be kibble chowhounds.


Cats are also very invested in how food smells. Cheap foods usually use questionable ingredients to entice cats to eat by appealing to their sense of smell.


It can take time for cats to accept new foods, but if you always make it a choice you'll gain their trust in the process, no matter where you're starting on the food journey.


Use a separate bowl, saucer, or plate for new foods so your cat can see and smell the new food without having it mixed in with their existing food. Yes, you'll be throwing away food in this process, so use tiny amounts to start with.


Food should be at room temperature, not cold. Cold foods don't smell much, and scent is the main attraction for cats. If you warm the food be sure to test it before putting it down, ensuring that it's room temperature so that their whiskers don't warn them away.


A great food to start with is bone broth. Not only is it healthful and hydrating, it can become a great way to sneak supplements into your cat's diet.


Start with a couple of spoonfuls of plain room-temperature bone broth on a saucer. This can be left out for part of the day so your cat can sample it any time, they may even choose this instead of water when they get thirsty. Using bone broth made for pets, like the ones from Smallbatch Pets, ensures that there are no added ingredients that could be problematic. You can avoid waste by freezing some of it in ice cube trays and thawing it as needed.


When you decide to start adding supplements start with a tiny pinch, gradually increasing the amount so they can acclimate to the change. Dividing supplement amounts into multiple servings helps, and, win-win, helps your cat stay properly hydrated. A popular choice to start with are the Health Nuggets from Nupro because they can be fed dry for the crunch-hungry kibble eaters or soaked in the broth and smashed to create a gravy.


Cats who are dedicated dry food eaters often have an easier time switching to freeze-dried and then canned or gently cooked food before trying raw foods because freeze-dried food is closest in texture to kibble, and canned food has a stronger smell than raw. Trying different brands and meats is often the key to success because they all have different scents and textures. Smallbatch Pets Meal Bites for cats are a favorite freeze-dried food that can be offered on the side or sprinkled on top.


It's all about small steps in the right direction toward a less processed and healthier diet. Some cats put on the brakes with raw food even after several months of taste testing, and that's ok. The most important step is getting cats to accept meat-based diets with plenty of moisture and kicking the kibble habit.


Don't be afraid to experiment, and don't get frustrated. Just remember that what we love about cats is their wildness, and avoiding strange new foods is part of that.


Download our Pet Health Guide on this topic, as well as our Pet Health Guide explaining the importance of getting cats off dry food.



Hello, my name is Tori and I am the owner of Dexter’s Deli. I have had cats all of my life and currently live with two exotic Bengal cats. It’s true, Bengal cats truly are regal creatures, holding court and proving to be more demanding and adventurous than any of my previous cats.


Bengal cats first came into my life unexpectedly through a new relationship. Now, 10 years later, I have grown to love the predictably adventurous and demanding nature of Bengals that makes them so fun and also, at times, challenging.


Our 2 Bengals, Tula (11yrs) and Rocky (4yrs) have grown up true to their heritage, and from the time they were little kittens their Bengal nature influenced their unique taste for the extraordinary, setting the stage for a lifetime of culinary bliss eating a raw, fresh-food diet.


It’s true, that because they were raised on fresh food, we did not have to take time to introduce small portions of raw, fresh meat alongside their regular meals. Rocky will not even nibble on dry cat kibble after being raised just on raw goodness.


Truly all cats can enter the era of fine feline dining, the fresh food (a.k.a. "paw-some") revolution that has cats purring for more. The good news is most of our feline companions can be transformed from ordinary eaters to culinary connoisseurs. Even the fussiest eaters or feline food critics can be swayed away from dry processed kibble to a healthier more nutrient-rich and hydrating diet.


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