How Cats Let Us Know They Don’t Like Their Food


We all know that cats can be fussy eaters.  What cat parent hasn’t been exasperated by a cat who turns her nose up at a food she used to love…or puzzled when a cat would rather lick the peanut butter off your plate than eat tuna-flavored cat food?  Is your cat sending you signals that the food you’re putting down just isn't doing it anymore?  Veterinary researchers identified some feline behavioral cues to look for.



A recent study published in Veterinary Journal conducted a food palatability study on cats to learn how they let us know they don’t like what you’re feeding them.  34 pet cats were presented with 3 different types of food:  their most favorite, least favorite, and favorite with a placebo pill hidden inside.  The cats’ behavioral reactions before, during, and after feeding were videorecorded and analyzed.



The results?  Researchers discovered that a few physical behaviors were common among the cats when they reacted to each type of food:

  • Favorite food: lick lips
  • Favorite food with pill: drop item
  • Non-favorite food: flick ears backward, lick nose, flick tail, groom body

The conclusion?  Your cat is sending you plenty of visual cues when the food you’re putting in front of him is not to his liking!


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