Can I entice my finicky cat to eat by gently rubbing a bit of canned food or juice on her gums?

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A cat can become finicky for a number of reasons: allergies, recent vaccinations, stress and other psychological reasons, mealtime distractions and the obvious, illness.

First, if you haven’t already, you must take your cat to the veterinary clinic for a checkup, since many illnesses cause a decrease or total lack of appetite. Then, if she gets a clean bill of health, you can assume she’s just a picky eater and make appropriate changes to the way you feed your cat to make sure she eats and gets the proper nutrition she needs.

Rubbing juice on her gums isn’t a good idea because:

• Many people foods, while tasty to pets, are harmful or toxic. Ask your veterinarian or local ASPCA for a list of harmful foods.

• She could actually starve herself while holding out for something better. Cats can go into liver failure in as little as 3 days.

• You’ll contribute to malnutrition. Cats have strict dietary requirements. People food and table scraps won’t provide the necessary nutrients.

• You’ll ironically create more of a finicky feline because it will “spoil” her by giving her a variety of tastes and textures.

Some better alternatives to make mealtime a little more appealing for your finicky feline:

• Cats have a strong smell-appetite connection, so microwave the food for a few seconds to bring out enticing aromas.
• Increase moisture content. Some cats dislike lack of moisture. Try adding water or broth or mix wet and dry food.
• Eliminate distractions. Nothing can ruin mealtime like a busy, highly trafficked area; if this is your case, move her bowl to a quieter, peaceful area.
• Increase stimulation: She may be bored so try something exciting like a food puzzle.

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