Want to prevent your new kitten from becoming a finicky eater?
Frustrated by that your cat won’t eat the new diet that your vet prescribed because of its kidney disease? Has your cat refused to eat after recovering from an illness? While there often are no simple answers for fixing these cases, there are simple ways to prevent new kittens from developing into future finicky eaters.
Kitten food preferences develop based on influences of genetics, the queen’s diet, and the kitten’s dietary experiences when young. Kittens can form strong taste and texture preferences by as early as six months of age. As obligate carnivores, cats’ food sources are restrained by local available prey. (This compares to dogs which are omnivorous scavengers and show less food neophobia.) Cats are more likely to develop restricted food choices. This can present major challenges in the future if your cat requires a diet change or your cat develops an illness-induced food aversion to the only diet its ever eaten!
The answer: food socialization in kittens. Offer your young kittens a wide variety of commercial and non-commercial foodstuffs in small amounts to accustom the kittens to diversity of tastes, odors and textures. Kittens and cats should be exposed to these variable and novel sources at least 2-3 times per week for the duration of the cat’s life in order to maintain receptivity.
This simple process will mitigate the headache of future diet changes as well as increase options for training and behavior modification in the event that such are needed or desired.