Cat Won’t Eat Wet Food – What Should I Do?

a young white pawed tabby cat reclining and reaching out for a bowl of kibble placed infront of it

You put the dish of wet cat food down in front of your kitty, and she promptly turns her nose up at it and walks away. What’s the problem? Why won’t your cat eat wet food?

Why Won’t My Cat Eat Wet Food?


So your cat won’t eat wet food. Cats are notoriously picky eaters. If they think they don’t like the food, they will often starve themselves before they decide to eat. Cat owners might think it’s a hassle, but you need to find the right diet to suit your cat.

As obligate carnivores, cats evolved to eat a meat-only diet. With the rise of kibble and wet food products, many cats are having trouble adjusting their digestive systems to their new diets. As a result, many cat owners find they need to purchase their cat’s expensive, specialized foods.

If your cat isn’t eating wet food, it could be for several reasons.

cat eating tuna from dish on kitchen top

Your Cat Is Fussy


Your cat is a fussy eater and might just like eating dry food out of personal preference and will not change its mind overnight whatever you do!

Your Cat Doesn’t Like the Flavor or Brand


Cats have aversions to certain flavors, textures, and scents. If your cat doesn’t eat the wet food, or your cat licks food but doesn’t eat try a different flavor or brand to see if it makes any difference.

The food Is Not Warm Enough

Some cats don’t like cold wet cat food. The flavor and aroma may be bland if the food is not at least ambient temperature or even warmer. Instinctively a cat often prefers food that is body temperature because that is the temperature of a fresh kill in the wild. Your cat might eat the wet cat food if it was warmer…

Eating Elsewhere


If you have an outdoor cat, you have no idea what they were up to during the day. They might have caught a fat mouse for lunch, and they just don’t feel like eating or they may have been around to your neighbors for lunch!

a cat eating from a metal bowl on a kitchen counter

The Food Has Passed Its Expiry Date


Your cat might have turned its nose up at the wet food you have offered because the food is out of date and has turned. Cats have a sense of smell 14x stronger than humans and they may have noticed an off odor and decided against eating the spoiled food. Check the expiry date.

The Food Bowl Is Dirty


Imagine eating off a dirty plate. Repulsive isn’t it? Your cat thinks so as well! You need to clean your cat’s feeding bowl regularly or they will spot it and choose not to eat from it – with good reason!

Your Cat Is Unwell


If your cat has suddenly lost their appetite it could be because they are not feeling so well and have lost their appetite. Dental problems, food allergies, bowel problems, and other health problems can all contribute to a loss of appetite and come on overnight from nowhere.

How long can a cat go without eating? Not long – get your cat checked out if they don’t eat for a day.

Your Cat Is A Creature Of Habit


If your cat is so used to eating dry food they simply might not understand what this wet food is.

Or, if the wet food your cat usually eats changes in any minor way – say the manufacturer changes an ingredient that alters aroma – that could be enough to stop your cat in its tracks.

Why Should I Feed My Cat Wet Food?


Wet cat food is a good option for your cat and an alternative to kibble. Here are the top reasons why you should feed your kitty a wet food diet.

Prevent Kidney Problems and Better Hydration


Many cats deal with kidney issues relating to their diet. They form urinary crystals, which cause kidney problems and trips to the vet. With the use of wet food, you add more water into your cat’s diet, preventing kidney problems.

Promotes Lean Body Mass


Eating a wet food diet means your cats are getting zero carbs included in their diet. The carbs in kibble formulations can make cats gain weight. With fewer carbs in wet food, your kitty keeps a lean, trim physique, with fewer health problems related to obesity.

Adds More Variety


Wet food comes in plenty of flavors and textures, bringing more variety into your cat’s diet.

close up of a cat eating chunky wet cat food from a purple bowl

Wet Food – The Downside


However, it’s not all good news for wet food; there are some disadvantages to feeding your cat a wet diet.

The first problem is that wet food is usually more expensive than dry food. Cat owners can expect to pay up to 40% more for wet food than they do for a month’s supply of kibble.

Wet food rarely keeps in the fridge, so you’ll need to buy single-portion cans for your kitty.

Wet food also soils faster than dry food, and your cat may not come back for concurrent feeding sessions like they do with kibble.

How Do I Get My Cat to Start Eating Wet Food?


If you’re trying to transition your cat from dry to wet food, it might take some time. If your cat spent years on a kibble-only diet, they might struggle with moving across to wet food.

It might be best to try adding water to dry cat food first to see if you can improve their hydration initially and gently get them used to minor changes in their diet.

Transitioning your cat to wet food could take weeks or months, so it’s important for cat owners to have patience with the exercise.

Try using these guidelines when transitioning your cat from dry to wet food.

  • For cats that have a long history with dry diets, start breaking their feeding sessions into four meals a day.
  • After they are comfortable with that schedule, and assuming you are going for a full transition, make the last meal of the day wet food.
  • To let your cat know that it’s their dinner, put the dish on the floor, make sure they see it and then walk away.
  • Leave the dish on the floor for 20-minutes, and then remove it, even if they don’t eat anything.
  • Some cats adapt to the change from the first meal, while others might take days or weeks.
  • If your cat isn’t eating the wet food, try combining it with kibble to see if there’s a chance.
  • If that strategy works, reduce the amount of kibble by 20% each meal until you have them eating wet food only.
  • After the cat successfully eats the entire meal, start replacing further dry meals with wet food until your cat is only eating a wet food diet.
a calico cat eating raw chicken from a bowl

Warning About Changing Cats Diets


Changing your cat’s diet can cause some damaging effects to their health if you don’t use the right strategy.

It’s important that you don’t change the cat food all at once. If your cat stops eating for more than 24-hours, it can lead to the development of a condition known as “fatty liver disease.”

If left untreated, this condition can be fatal in cats. It’s quite surprising how fast they can deteriorate when they stop eating.

If your cat suddenly stops eating for more than 24-hours, take her to the vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

Experiment with Different Cat Food Brands and Flavors


Cat owners don’t need to transition their poet away from kibble entirely. Kibble plays a valuable role in your cat’s diet, and it’s way more affordable than wet food.

However, pet owners can always do a better job monitoring their cat’s kibble intake to prevent overeating and obesity in their feline friends.

Wet food is a great way to bring more variety into your cat’s diet, giving them something different to eat. Finding the right balance between wet and dry food takes some experimenting, but you’ll find the sweet spot eventually.

Cats enjoy textures in food more than dogs, and they’ll appreciate the wet food from time to time. It’s also a great way to get cats eating that might be picky eaters.

Choose a few flavors and brands and see which one your cat prefers.