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My girlfriend and I adopted a shelter cat, unknown age, but we were told she was rather old (10 to 17 years?) Was very shy in the beginning and hid under the bed or in my wardrobe. But purred when petted. Now she has fully accepted us as their servants, always coming and sitting on our laps when we return from work and getting comfortable on the couch. She's not hiding anymore and roams the flat freely. Hopefully we can let her out into the garden soon.

Her eating habits are rather un-cat-ish, though: she eats very little. Most of the food goes to the trash can when her bowls (yes, several, we don't really know what food she was used to) are renewed. She eats dry food, we see her eating from it, and sometimes we can hear her munching when we are in bed. She drinks water sufficiently.

From the wet food she only licks sauce / gravy and ignores the chunks (maybe she eats a few chunks, but merely as a by-product of gravy-licking.) (Maybe I should write a letter to Whiskas asking for a bucket of their gravy.)

Is my cat behaving normally? Should I be worried she might be eating too little? (She doesn't seem enfeebled: jumps on the bed and on the couch and put her claws to the carpet.)

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    Not un-cat-ish. Also some cats (cats have widely varying personalities), such as my late cat (16 yrs), learned that if he didn't eat I'd change his food flavors (whoops) and got into a habit of holding out if he didn't like it. They can be very picky eaters. It took me a long time to break this habit. Try another flavor, or another form (e.g. loaf in sauce forms), or just switch her to dry only. Btw if you've got her on wet food you might want to run some numbers and count her calories just to double check she's meeting her daily requirements. Some wet foods are very low cal per mass. – Jason C Apr 23 '17 at 15:52
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    Mine did that – until I started giving them only canned food. – Anton Sherwood Apr 25 '17 at 6:40
  • My cat does the same thing and she is older. Sorry I don't have an answer for you but I just want to say that I appreciate that you adopted a cat from the shelter that you knew was an older one. Its nice that you gave her a home :) – Elizabeth Richardson Oct 1 '18 at 21:31
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Some cats don't like chunks and gravy. In fact, some cats don't like wet food at all! If chunks and gravy isn't working try the paté version. Only give out small portions at a time, as wet food tends to dry up quickly, and then she definitely won't want it. You may also warm it up in the microwave to enhance the smell, but mash it sufficiently so that it's not too hot when she eats it.

Cats rely on smell and texture first when deeming it edible or not, which is why when they are kittens, it's a good idea to introduce them to different textured foods (preferably of the same brand to not cause any GI upset).

If you're worried she isn't eating enough, weigh her once to twice a week until you feel comfortable. I always recommend weighing once to twice a month for healthy pets to prevent weight gains or losses.

I will also add this little extra tidbit - since your cat is probably a senior, I highly recommend doing a wellness visit for blood work at your regular vet. Our senior kitties are at high risk for a number of illnesses, though the one I worry most about is kidney disease. The thing about kidney disease is that you only start to see physical signs once the kidneys have been damaged by ~70%. Catching it early will allow her to live longer, as you can start treating to slow the progression sooner. We like to do a senior wellness screen yearly to every second year as a preventative.

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    mashing it up and mixing it with the gravy is giving it the gravy taste. The issue is the chunk is not very tasty for the animal and that is usually because it is not made of meat, although it looks like meat. They do not just rely on smell and texture, this is a fallacy. They rely on smell and taste - texture would come after this. Please make statements that can be supported, as we do not want to post misinformation here and you're a high rep user. I do like your suggestions on how to encourage the cat to eat it. Thanks. – Yvette - Reinstate Monica Apr 22 '17 at 13:56
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    All of my answers are factual, I work in the veterinary industry - I don't randomly make guesses and assumptions. Cats have very few taste buds, relying on taste is the very last thing pet food companies work on. Smell and texture are key. – Rebecca RVT Apr 22 '17 at 19:36
  • I'm sorry I've offended you, I have no doubt you have great experience and knowledge, that is evident by your contributions. I'd like to see a citation for this, so I'll post a separate question (later today), it's an interesting topic and you can post an answer to it if you like. – Yvette - Reinstate Monica Apr 23 '17 at 0:35
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    No offence taken, I know it's hard to tell on chats lol. I'll find one for you once I get home. – Rebecca RVT Apr 23 '17 at 2:44
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    @YvetteColomb Ok got it, so it's from my royal canin learning modules - I had to take screenshots since it's not available to non-vet staff (though maybe if you ask you can get access to it?). imgur.com/a/iFgBs and imgur.com/a/wfATb – Rebecca RVT Apr 23 '17 at 12:12
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My cat is like that. I put a little extra water to give her more juice but, she still only drinks it. I have tried to give her every other one in store but, the result is the same. I recently discovered lickables. Its a wet cat food similar to our stew. She loves it. She will eat the whole package it just a few minutes. I would recommend trying that if nothing has worked.

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This would be quite normal,as many of the chunks you see are not meat, but textured vegetable protein (TVP). The cat is preferring the food that has a meaty taste, as opposed to the vegetarian option.

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Basically your cat has got more sense than eat vegetables passing themselves off as meat. Recently I went through all the packets of so called cat food at a supermarket and they were 4% meat derivatives. Cats know this. Some of the larger tins are about 40% and some of the very premium small packets are a little better. Cats are pure carnivores and apart from a little grass don't eat veg in the wild. Manufactures are conning us all making the vegetalbes look like meat.

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I have three cats.

  • One of them is like your cat. Loves gravy, licks it off first, often skips the meat, does eat dry food. I experimented once by giving her dry food with gravy over it, and she finished the whole bowl (something she otherwise never does). So I think she simply dislikes soft meat.
  • Her sister loves gravy but does not pass up the meat afterwards
  • The younger one actively leaves gravy/jelly in the bowl. He eats everything else (including human food and even paper), but does not like jelly and gravy.

I don't see an issue with your cat's behavior. As long as she's eating something, it seems like it's a matter of preferring dry food and gravy over the chewy bits of wet food.

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