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Why do cats never finish their food?



How many times have you served your cat a full portion of cat food and come back to see a great deal of leftovers? Perhaps the untouched food is in a ring shape around the edge of the food bowl, or maybe your cat has only had one bite and walked away. If you find that your feline friend never seems to finish all their food, you are probably wondering what causes this kind of cat behaviour. Whiskas looks at some of the common reasons why your cat might not be finishing their food and offers advice on what you can do. 


The obvious reason


Often, we jump to the worst conclusions and forget the obvious reason why a cat might not finish their food: its stomach is full. Cats have small stomachs; on average about the size of a ping-pong ball, so their eating patterns can involve several breaks rather than eating an entire portion in one sitting. It’s also possible that your cat is filling up on food from another source. To find the other food source, you can ask your neighbours or try following your cat when they go outside. If you feed your cat wet cat food and they take long breaks between bites, check the clock. If it has been four hours since you put the food down, you should discard it and remember to always wash your cat’s food bowl before refilling. 


Ancestral instincts 


As predators, cats in the wild would prey on small animals like birds or rodents and instinctively hunt frequently throughout a day. Unlike humans, eating and predatory behaviours in cats are not triggered by hunger. Every bird or rodent caught offers a small amount of energy and nutrition for the cat. These instincts are also present in domestic cats, meaning they usually prefer to eat small amounts of food, up to 15 times a day on average. Hence, you should leave some of your cat’s food out during the day for them to nibble on. You can also make finishing kibble more exciting for your cat by playing to their hunting instincts and hiding dry food around the home. Just be sure to remember where you hide the food in case your cat does not eat it before it spoils. 


Why is my cat acting like their food bowl is empty?


You might find this type of cat behaviour strange, but some cats only eat the food in the centre of the food bowl and then act as if it is empty, despite an outer ring of leftovers. If your cat does this, it is likely that they are avoiding the sides of their food bowl because their whiskers are more sensitive. Some cat breeds have more sensitive whiskers than others and are not comfortable pushing them into a deep bowl. In this case, you can try a shallower food bowl shape or reposition your cat’s food so that it is more comfortable for them to take bites of. 


Can cats get tired of eating the same food?


Yes, cats can get bored of eating the same type of food every day. That’s one of the reasons why Whiskas recommends mixing up your cat’s food with part wet food and part dry food. Whiskas recommends that two-thirds of your cat’s daily calorie intake is from wet food and one-third from dry food. 


You may also notice your cat has flavour preferences. Try feeding your cat different cat food flavours and textures. For example, if you have only been feeding them dry cat food with chicken, you could test whether tuna in jelly food pouches go down better. If your cat never seems to finish their full portion of cat food, consult a vet. A vet can help you find the right diet for your cat, or assess whether your cat has any health issues. 

Cats' eating patterns can involve several breaks, rather than eating an entire portion in one sitting.

Discover some of the common reasons why cats don’t finish their food, and learn some valuable advice on what you can do.

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