How does warming food or adding warm water possibly get a finicky cat to eat?

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Warming brings out some pretty strong, enticing aromas and cats are very much attracted to food by its strong smell; in fact, that’s why they always lose their appetites whenever they have respiratory infections—they can’t smell. It’s also why they go crazy for tuna.

Second, it appeals to the cat’s instinctive nature, because warm food reminds them of the fare of their wild ancestors: Warm prey.

Warm water has a third benefit: Cats evolved from the desert, so they aren’t especially thirst-driven. Adding water gets a little more liquid in them.

If your cat won’t eat, whether out of pickiness or illness, here are some tips for warming:

• If canned, place it in the microwave for a few seconds. If dried kibble, just add a little warm water. Cats prefer food that is body temperature. You can go a degree or two higher to 101.
• Use a microwave-safe bowl, not the pet dish, because that could ultimately burn and hurt the cat. .
• Test by sticking a clean finger into the food to check the temperature. If the food is warm to the touch, it’s near the correct temperature. You want it warm, but not hot. Putting food in the microwave does NOT destroy vitamins.
• If you need more enticement, add a little bit of warm chicken broth or cat “gravy” to the kibble to help release stronger aromas. It also makes the food much more palatable and it softens it, making it more acceptable to cats with ongoing dental problems.

NOTE: Cat food can get scalding hot very quickly, which may burn you or the cat. Only heat the food for five to 10 seconds and then check to see if it is room temperature. If it is too hot, wait until it cools off before giving it to the cat. If you have some leftover cold food, you may want to mix it with the hot so it cools a little.

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