Why Do Cats Ask for Food but Barely Eat It?

"But Mom, I don't like this flavor!"
"But Mom, I don't like this flavor!" (Image: Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images)

When cats ask for food but don't eat, there is generally an environmental, food-specific or medical cause. Troubleshoot the food and eating environment yourself. If you're still not able to get Princess interested in even her favorite foods, your vet can help you figure out what's making Princess vocalize for food but ignore what's offered.

Food-Related Problems

Just like people, cats have their preferences. If you have recently switched brands or flavors of cat food, your cat may be ignoring the new food because she likes it less. By boycotting the food given, she may be hoping you resort to the last food she did appear to enjoy eating. On a similar note, if your cat became sick after eating a certain food, she may make the assumption that the food caused her illness and avoid that food. Switch things up in the kitchen to see if you can tempt Princess to eat.

Mental Causes

Feline excessive vocalization may cause some cats to meow excessively as an attention-seeking behavior, which you may interpret as demanding a meal. Other cats can see food as a symbol of your affection and ask for food as proof of your love. If your cat meows excessively for food and appears overly interested in watching you eat or stealing morsels from other cats' bowls, she could have a new condition termed "psychogenic abnormal feeding behavior," according to a 2012 "Journal of Veterinary Behavior" report. A vet can examine your cat for underlying mental conditions causing this strange eating behavior.

Physical Causes

Disinterest in food can signify an underlying medical condition, such as senility or gum disease. Have your cat checked out by the vet if a change in food does not spur an appetite increase. Your vet can prescribe treatment and may suggest new foods to try. If Princess has gum disease, she'll have an easier time mouthing soft foods than eating dry kibble, for example.

Other Causes

Some cats are picky about the environment. Maybe Princess feels like you are watching her eat and is self-conscious. If your cat won't eat when you are in the room, yet the food disappears from her bowl over the course of the day, she may prefer to be left alone during mealtime. Not eating is not a normal behavior for cats. If you offer a couple of different foods and your cat continues to ignore it, schedule a vet appointment.

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