Give your fussy feline a choice

If you have a feline with discerning taste who can be a little on the fussy side when it comes to dinner time, perhaps it’s time to change things up a little…
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18th April 2024

“Some cats (like some people) can be rather particular about what's in their food bowl,” says cat vet, Dr Jo Lewis, winner of ‘Feline Vet of the Year’ and founder of the UK’s first mobile clinic dedicated entirely to cats.

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“Domestic cats tend to have specific preferences for certain textures or flavours of foods and how it is served. We know that a cat's perception of food flavour is not merely down to taste alone – other sensations influence the messages that are sent to the brain when deciding whether to eat or not. This is often interpreted as ‘fussiness’ when the cat is simply being cautious and selective about what it chooses to eat just as we are.”


A cat’s digestive system is suited to eating small meals frequently. Dry food provided in feeding balls or scattered around the house provides cats with the opportunity to spend more of their day seeking out their meal.

Source: Cats Protection

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Dr Lewis says that as creatures of habit, cats like familiarity and routine. It’s also important to provide the right feeding location and feeding utensils. Her top tips include:

  • Privacy and security – Instinctively we and cats are not designed to eat when anxious. It's part of our natural ‘fight or flight’ response. Cats are more likely to eat when they feel relaxed so generally prefer to be left in peace to eat and don't enjoy an audience from humans, other cats/pets. Create a bit of privacy at mealtimes and switch feeding time until after the rest of household has eaten, keeping your cat away from the family eating area during meals.
  • Access – If your cat is elderly, arthritic or weak, don't place the food bowl too far away from their preferred sleeping place. If you usually put the bowl out of your dog's reach, for example, consider whether an ageing/unwell cat can easily get to it.
  • Timing – Some cats prefer to eat when left alone overnight, others seem to respond well to food if you actually waft the food under their nose while they are sleep. 
  • Novelty –Although most cats are fans of routine (some even showing a preference to one side of the bowl) some seem to respond to a change of scene. If my cats are being pickier with their food, I offer them the same food somewhere else, and it often makes them more interested.


Eating and drinking are quite vulnerable activities for a cat. Placing bowls slightly away from the wall to allow the cat to sit with their back to the wall and view the surroundings will allow the cat to feel more at ease.

Source: Cats Protection

Food bowl etiquette

  • Shape – Most cat food bowls are designed to appeal to owners and not cats. Avoid small, deep bowls, instead try offering food in wide, shallow bowls. This avoids a cat's super-sensitive whiskers making contact with anything while eating.
  • Height – Consider raising your cat's food bowl slightly with a book/upturned saucer as it may make eating easier for some cats with arthritis/back pain.
  • Cleanliness – Make sure your cat's bowl is clean. Many cats won't eat out of a bowl that has bits of old food in it. Would you? Get into the habit of washing out food and water bowls after each use as leftovers from a previous meal are hardly appetizing. Some cats do not like the odour of perfumed detergents/dishwasher residue so unless there is an infectious disease risk try to use hot water soaking/washing alone for cleaning.


Cats like to eat and drink away from their litter tray, as it’s more hygienic. They prefer their food and water bowls to be separated too, so it is important to try to spread these resources out around the home.

Source: Cats Protection

Is your cat being fussy – or is it something else?

If your cat is usually a good eater but has suddenly gone off their food, it’s important to get them checked out by your vet as well as trying to determine if something else is causing the issue.


Cats often prefer to drink from a moving water source – maybe leave a tap dripping or try a water fountain. Water should always be available indoors, even if your cat seems not to drink it, in case a preferred outdoor drinking source suddenly becomes inaccessible. Cats generally prefer ceramic water bowls as plastic bowls may taint the taste of the water.

Source: Cats Protection

Dr Lewis advises: “You generally tend to know from the word go whether you genuinely have a feline with a choosy palate. If your cat has previously been easy to please but starts becoming choosy then there is usually a reason lurking behind it. It doesn't always have to be a medical illness but stress (often the dynamics between cats in a household) can be equally important.”


As cats age, they can become increasingly picky eaters, and many may have a reduced appetite. Some of these changes may arise as a result of an underlying disease, and regular vet visits are advisable for older cats. Senior cats should be seen by the vet at least every six months and more frequent visits may be recommended on veterinary advice.

Source: Cats Protection

EVERY CAT DESERVES A DELICIOUS, NUTRITIOUS DINNER. At Burgess, all our cat food is made using premium ingredients and is high in protein, to ensure excellent quality and superior taste to help keep your cat happy and healthy – from kitten, to adult and mature and our award-winning variety for neutered cats.

Adapting your cat’s diet throughout their life – what you choose to feed your cat can make all the difference >>

Our cat diet and nutrition guide is here to help you create a meal plan that's tailored especially for your feline friend, and their needs.

Is your cat a Burgess cat? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards.

GOT A CAT QUESTION? Whatever your feline related query, we’ve got some fascinating answers for you >>

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