Why does my cat always leave behind food, and refuse to eat it later when combined with new food?

I'm not overfeeding...

I'm not giving my cat more than she can eat, but rather she seems adamant to leave behind her food.

After several days, she will end up with an oversupply of left-overs.

Its not the bowl or comfort issues...

I initially researched it, and I thought perhaps she did not like her wiskers touching the side of the bowl -- hence she would not eat from the fringes of the bowl.

Perhaps she is spoiled...

That was not the case. I tried bunching her food together to the middle of the bowl and topping it off with a very small amount of new food, perhaps "tricking" her into thinking the whole pile was new.

She seems to reject anything that was previously a left-over, and there is no tricking her.

It seems likely she is sensing something by smell that I am not fully grasping.

She is possibly making health decisions, and her food is not good in her eyes...

The food is "Friskies" and I had switched to fish-based ingredients when I was told her poultry-based food was causing a rash that she had (I had been inspecting it's cause for a year or so)

The only thing I can surmise, based on what I know of my cat, is she is instinctively rejecting portions of her food based on her own sensitivities.

But how do I know for sure? Is this common cat behavior?

I'd like to stop wasting food as well as get to the bottom of this issue.

An extra note...

My wife and I have a cute little feud over this. She says I spoil her, whereas I think the cat is probably having a real problem I don't understand. Yet on that "spoiling" level, if I ever cook fish she is extremely interested in our meal and begs a great deal. Of course I feed her the fish!

Spoiled kitty? Malnourished kitty? Deranged kitty?

  • 1
    This is a bit off topic, but some sources say you should avoid feeding too much fish to cats, see e.g. littlebigcat.com/nutrition/why-fish-is-dangerous-for-cats
    – augurar
    Aug 12, 2015 at 8:03
  • @augurar Related Is it safe for my cat to eat fish
    – Zaralynda
    Jul 19, 2016 at 13:15
  • 2
    what you realy have to look for is the weight of your cat,does your cat loose weight or does your cat gain weight.if she looses weight you need to take her to the vet and if the weight is unchanged you over feed her if there is leftover food. Feb 28, 2019 at 5:30
  • My cat does the same thing. She’d just leave the rest there even if she were starving… it seems lol. She won’t eat until the bowl is filled to the top, always has to be filled to the top in order to eat.
    – Sommer
    Nov 4, 2021 at 12:48

1 Answer 1


The simplest explanation is that she is not hungry enough to eat all you give her. I don't follow the logic that she can eat that amount, therefore she must. Appetite levels can change, especially as a cat ages and activity drops. If the fish is less palatable, she might only be eating what she needs to, especially if she can beg tidbits at will.

Give her somewhat less and save the rest for the next meal. Only if she starts losing weight is there much real concern. Refrigerate the part-can until the next time.

  • 3
    I am inclined to agree. Feeding guidelines on food are patently ridiculous; I have never ever fed my animals the recommended amount because it is so ludicrously high. Keep dropping the amount of food until all of it is gone. If your cat is really hungry, they will eat. That being said, cats are picky eaters, so it is entirely possible that your cat doesn't like this food. Buy an assortment of small cans and keep trying to find something they like. Also, don't skimp on food; cheap food can mean large vet bills down the road. Jul 30, 2017 at 15:33

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