Though it can be tempting, don’t play your cat at their own game and attempt to starve them into eating. This can further disrupt their confidence in household schedules and exacerbate their condition—and anyway, cats. always. win.
Instead, try increasing the water content of food (especially if it’s dry kibble), or add a distinctive odor such as the brine from canned fish. If you’re attempting to ween a cat off their favorite unhealthy option, you could create mixtures that taper slowly towards their new food, making the transition less abrupt. Beware putting your cat off both food types with this strategy, however!
Rotating between a few favored brands, not just flavors, works for many. Switching things up every quarter keeps some variety in your cat’s diet while remaining manageable for owners. Trying out different brands may also minimize the development of sensitivities or intolerances to particular formulas.
If nothing seems to be working at all, talk to your vet. They’ll be able to kick things up a gear with appetite-stimulating medications such as mirtazapine, or advice on how to syringe-feed your cat with a liquid diet.
What about homemade? In truth, most cat foods are unable to compete with a home-cooked meal, in the same way that processed human foods won’t match fresh produce for nutritional benefit. Keep portions small, cooked, and supplemented by small amounts of dietary fiber such as sweet potato, vitamins, and fatty acids (Omega). Remember that too many proteins and vitamins can cause their own set of gastrointestinal and systemic issues.
Even if you’re not able to consistently cook for your cat, testing their reaction to a small portion of fresh roast chicken or canned fish will help you diagnose whether or not their avoidance is related to the type of food on offer.