“Insisting capriciously on getting just what one wants; difficult to please; fastidious: a finicky eater.”  Does this describe your cat’s attitude toward food? Many of our customers have found that their cats have a definite preference when it comes to the type of food they’ll eat. It becomes more challenging when the cats in a household disagree on which foods are the best.

New cat owners are often overwhelmed by the scope of foods available. We recommend starting with small (approximately 3oz) cans or pouches of a variety of flavors and textures, and keeping track of which flavors are preferred. Some customers keep the labels of the favorite flavors, many keep a list, and some have even created a spreadsheet to keep everything straight.

The first question I generally ask is regarding texture. Do the cats prefer a pâté (everything ground to a similar consistency) or a chunks in gravy?

Pâté is easier to divide among multiple cats, and in some brands is available in large (12-14oz cans). Its uniform consistency also makes it ideal for mixing in any needed supplements. Some cats prefer the smooth texture, and kittens especially find it easy to eat.

The chunks in gravy style is generally more appealing to us, as it looks like something we might serve our families (though it is lacking the seasonings we’d add). The chunks may be shredded pieces of meat, cubed, or minced. The textured formulas are often preferred by cats who enjoy picking up small pieces of meat rather than lapping at their food.  

A few formulas that we carry are in aspic, a clear gelatin, rather than gravy.

The next question I ask is if the cat has a preference between poultry, fish, or red meat. Ideally, you should rotate among all of these, because that will provide the most complete diet – different types of meat provide different nutrients, and eating a variety reduces the chance of developing food-related allergies or sensitivities.

Poultry choices include:

  • chicken
  • duck
  • pheasant
  • turkey

with chicken and turkey being the most commonly purchased.

We have a lot of variety available in the seafood formulas, including not only the commonly enjoyed:

  • calamari
  • herring
  • mackerel
  • mussels
  • salmon
  • sardine
  • shrimp
  • trout
  • tuna

but also international fishes, such as:

  • barramundi and trevally (from Australia)
  • red bigeye (from the Pacific and Indian oceans)
  • shirasu (baby anchovies, from Japan)
  • tilapia (known as “fish of the Nile”)
  • unagi (New Zealand eel)

You can see we have quite the fish-lover’s feast available to sample.

To encourage your cat’s dreams of stalking its prey on the savannah, we have large game meats, such as:

  • beef
  • bison (also known as buffalo)
  • venison

as well as smaller game, such as rabbit and brushtail (a marsupial that was introduced into New Zealand from Australia, and has damaged the ecosystem in its new home. Read more about the management efforts of this introduced species here).

Once you’ve found the texture and flavors that earn you purrs of approval, you’ll want to decide what size of can works best. Some people prefer buying single flavors by the case, others like buying individual cans, so they can achieve a lot of variety. Depending on the size and number of cats in your house, you may find one can size works best for you. Many cats don’t like eating food that’s been kept in the refrigerator, they’d prefer a fresh can each meal that they get wet food. Some people add a splash of warm water to take the chill off, but we recommend that you avoid microwaving the food, as applying heat to the food can destroy essential nutrients. 

Whether you’re feeding exclusively wet, or a combination of wet and dry, or wet and raw food, will influence your buying decision as well.

I hope this helps you to choose foods that your cat will love. Of course, these tips will be helpful to owners of finicky dogs, as well!