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Why Do Cats Never Finish Their Food – 5 Reasons!

Why Do Cats Never Finish Their Food – 5 Reasons!

While most cats have extraordinary hunting abilities and are very food-motivated, it is also common to see a cat leave some food behind in its bowl. You might start wondering why they do this, and if it is a sign, they do not like the food you are serving them. So let’s get down to it; why do cats never finish their food?

Generally, cats never finish their food because they are full. Some cats also do this to portion out their meals. Other reasons include overfeeding, distractions, or your cat disliking the food.

While cats not finishing their food is not too concerning, it’s important to know exactly why it’s happening. Let’s dive in to learn more!

Reasons Cats Never Finish Their Food  

Below are some common reasons cats don’t finish their food.

You Are Overfeeding Your Cat

Truthfully, cats are not very big animals and do not need a very large quantity of food to feel satisfied. Most cats eat twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, and it is essential to follow the recommended portion guide for them.

If you do not know how much you should be feeding your cat, consult the back of their food bag or talk to your veterinarian for additional guidance.  

Your Cat Got Distracted 

Some cats can only really sit down to enjoy their food when their home environment is free of distractions. If background noises or children are running around, your cat may not feel like it is a safe environment to eat.

This is a deep-rooted ancestral trait from cats in the wild, where animals knew they were at their most vulnerable while eating. Cats would be very cautious about eating unless the environment was secure, as they were defenseless with their guard down while eating.

Your Cat Is a Grazer 

Some cats are more food motivated than others. Some cats will immediately gulp down any food you put in front of them and then go looking around the house to see if they can find extras. Other cats prefer to slowly graze over their day and may return to their food bowl repeatedly throughout the day to eat. 

You should quickly be able to tell what eating style your cat has after bringing them home. Sometimes their eating style correlates to their overall weight as well. Larger and chunkier cats tend to be more food motivated than smaller lean cats. 

Your Cat Doesn’t Like Their Food

It is always possible that your cat has decided they no longer like the food you are serving them. Some cats are more particular about their food than others and occasionally decide they no longer like a specific type of food even if they have eaten it for years prior.

If you are having trouble finding food your cat loves, it is common for cats to prefer wet food over dry food. Your vet will be able to give you recommendations for which brands will provide the best nutrients for your cat in their particular life phase.  

Your Cat Is Getting Their Food Elsewhere 

Sometimes if a cat refuses to eat their kibble, it might be because they find its meals elsewhere. This might mean they are eating another one of your pet’s food.

If your cat is allowed to roam around outside, they may be either hunting small rodents or birds on the side, or they have found another food source somewhere out in the wild.

If you suspect this is the case, you should try to follow your cat around during the day to see if you can pinpoint where they are getting their extra food.

A cat should eat their own recommended cat food, and you will want to curtail their extra food eating once you figure out where they are getting it from.  

My Cat Only Eats A Little At A Time, Is That Normal 

Yes, it is normal for cats to eat a little bit of food at a time. Especially with dry food, cats can only chew a little bit of kibble at a time and often take breaks while eating. Often when a cat only eats a little food and then runs off, it is because they are feeling skittish. 

Some cats spook more easily than others, which usually makes them more sensitive to changes in their home environment.

Some cats also prefer to be alone while they eat and may feel more vulnerable if someone is standing nearby while they are trying to eat. This can make them only eat a little bit at a time and want to return later when they deem the eating area safe and secure.  

Do Cats Eat All Their Food At Once

Usually, cats do not eat all their food at one time unless they are very hungry and their stomach is empty.

Some cats are very good at food management on their own and know to stop eating when they are feeling full. Usually, they will return to their food bowl a few hours later to continue eating.

If you have the opposite problem and your cat eats everything in sight, you can purchase an automatic cat feeder that will release a specific portion of food at certain times throughout the day. Hopefully, this will help your cat regulate how much they are eating each day to keep them feeling more full and happy.  

What Do I Do If My Cat Doesn’t Finish His Food 

If your cat never seems to finish their food over the course of a whole day, that is a reason to consult with your vet for advice.

While it is ok for cats to graze, they ultimately need to be eating enough food each day to stay healthy. If you are concerned your cat isn’t eating enough, they may need to switch to a different brand or type of food that they prefer. 

There are also supplements your vet can recommend to ensure your cat is getting enough food each day. Overall, not finishing food can also signify an underlying illness for your cat, so it is not an issue you should ignore.  

How Do I Get My Cat To Finish Eating

If you are having trouble getting your cat to finish eating, take action to switch up their eating environment to figure out the optimal conditions for your cat.

Perhaps they do not like where they are being fed in the house or do not like eating in a loud room where people are constantly walking in and out. Make sure you are using a clean bowl to feed your cat each day, as some cats are sensitive if their food bowl is still wet or has old food crusted into it. 

If your cat is still struggling to finish their food after adjusting its eating environment, it is time to adjust what you are feeding your cat to see if that fixes the problem. Some cats are truly high maintenance and have strong feelings about whether they like or dislike particular food. 

Some cats do well when fed a mixture of both wet and dry food for each meal. It is advised to try this due to two-thirds wet food and one-third dry food.

Other times, cats may also have a strong preference for the flavor profile of their food. Test out feeding them different options and see if a flavor combination seems to incentivize them to finish their food.