Getting picky indoor cats to eat healthy foods


As cat owners, you want the best for feline friends. You know that a nutritious diet is essential for our cats’ health and well-being. However, even the most well-intentioned cat parents among us sometimes struggle to get our picky eaters to eat healthy cat food.

Selecting the ideal cat food for indoor pets starts with understanding some key differences between cats with outdoor access and those without. Indoor cats typically exhibit lower activity levels compared to their outdoor counterparts. They also face some unique health concerns, like higher obesity rates and increased dental problems from lack of chewing opportunities.

High-quality, balanced commercial diets made specifically for indoor cats take lifestyle and health differences into account.

  • Slightly fewer calories or smaller recommended feeding portions to prevent weight gain
  • Increased taurine levels to support heart health
  • Fiber, joint supplements, or ingredients to aid digestion and mobility
  • Vitamin and mineral fortification
  • Dental health promoters to fight plaque and tartar

In addition to an indoor formula, you’ll want to select food tailored to your cat’s life stage:

  • Kitten food has extra calories and key nutrients to fuel growth and development
  • Adult cat formulas provide balanced nutrition for everyday health maintenance
  • Senior or mature formulas are lower calorie with boosted vitamin and antioxidant levels to meet the needs of aging cats

Of course, any special dietary needs or health issues your cat faces should also guide your selection. Choose food that fits the unique nutritional and digestive requirements of cats with food allergies, urinary conditions, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, or other concerns.

Appealing to a picky indoor cat’s preferences 

Even with the best quality food perfectly suited to your indoor cat, you might still encounter a finicky eater.

Pay attention to preferences

If your cat sometimes eats their food eagerly and other times turns up their nose, pay attention to when they seem most excited about mealtimes. Make notes about their favorite food type, texture, shape, flavor, or even location. You find ways to work with their preferences. For instance, if your cat has an easier time with smaller bites, incorporate some kitten kibble into their adult cat food.

Consider moist foods

best cat food for indoor cats prefers wet, canned, or moist foods over dry kibble. The aroma, taste, and texture seem more appealing. Introduce some moisture into your cat’s diet with canned foods, broth toppers, or by adding warm water to kibble.

Offer assorted flavors and textures 

Both taste and texture preferences shift, so rotate multiple flavors of your cat’s diet. Include some grain-free or limited ingredient blends alongside fish, fowl, and meat varieties. Mix up crunchy bits with smooth pates. Food puzzles and balls that make cats work for their food also boost appetite.

Use mealtime encouragement

If your indoor cat walks away from their food bowl untouched, resist the urge to coax or chase after them. It turns mealtime into a game and rewards picky behavior. Instead, dole out measured portions of food at set meal times then promptly remove the bowl once your cat loses interest. Their healthy appetite should return at the next scheduled feeding.