I know I’m not the only furr parent who has struggled with my cat not finishing their food and only eating food in the middle of the bowl. It’s frustrating I know.
Cats only eat food in the middle of their bowls because of their over-sensitive whiskers. They get uncomfortable as their long whiskers rub on the sides of the bowl making them not finish their food.
Why Do Some Cats Only Eat Food in the Middle of the Bowl?
1. Over-sensitive Whiskers
Cats are predators and they use their whiskers to help them hunt. Seeing whiskers are sensory they sometimes get over-sensitive.
As food in a bowl continues reducing, the cat will find itself rubbing its whiskers on the sides. This may be extremely uncomfortable for them and they may end up developing ‘whisker fatigue’.
To deal with this, you can avoid giving your cat food in a deep bowl. Instead, opt for shallow and wide bowls to avoid their whiskers touching the edges.
2. Ancestral Instincts
Ancestral cats originated in dry areas where every resource was precious.
Wild cats still have this fear and some of them will bury their food to preserve it. Burying hides scent from other predators who might attempt to steal.
Your kitto may also have these instincts and may attempt to bury their food.
Alternatively, they will purposely leave some food in their bowl to save it for later.
I’ve observed my Chacha doing this several times, especially if I’ve served her favorite meal.
3. Vision Problem
Your cat may be having eyesight problems. This is mostly with elderly cats but it may also occur with younger ones.
Does your cat easily bump into things? Is your cat having problems locating or aiming in the litterbox? Is your kitto crouching to the ground while walking?
If your answer is yes to most of the questions, then your cat has an eyesight problem and should be checked out by a vet.
Fun fact: Did you know cats are far-sighted and have problems seeing things close to them? They even have a direct blind spot below their chin and nose!
Different illnesses come with loss of appetite. Your cat may not be eating because they are sick and need medical attention.
It may also be possible your cat has tongue issues and has difficulty eating their food. Stress can also make your cat change their eating habits.
Routine check-ups are important to make sure they are in their best shape.
5. Bored of the Same Food
Imagine eating nothing but bread all year round. You’d get bored, right? This is actually the same with cats.
Mix it up a little. You can add some broth or tuna juice to their kibble.
Adding fluids to their food is also an excellent way of upping their water intake.
We all know how cats are fussy water drinkers. I’ve written another cool post that you can check out on how to encourage your cat to take more water.
6. Seeking Attention
Most cats are obsessed with attention and will do just about anything to get it. If your cat notices you give them some attention when they do not finish their food, they will continue only eating half of it.
They see the attention as a reward for their behavior.
7. Social Eater
In the wild, cats eat in packs after a successful hunt. Your cat may have inherited this behavior and prefers not to eat alone. If there isn’t any other cat, then they will request your presence.
Sometimes, you may find they meow at you and continue eating when you stand next to them. It’s just a social trait that they have.
8. Too Many Treats
Giving cats a lot of treats makes them too full to eat. They will also ignore the food in favor of treats. I mean any kid would choose chocolate over a plate of broccoli and this is the same with cats.
The VCA Animal Hospital explains that when cats experience a lot of different flavors, they ultimately become picky eaters.
Limit the number of treats as much as possible. If you’re looking for safe treats to give your cat, check out this cool list I compiled of human foods that can be treats for cats.
9. Lack of a Routine
If there is something I’ve learned in my 20+ plus years as a cat purrent is that cats love routine.
They will demand to be fed at the exact same time and will most likely ignore food if it’s past their mealtime.
You need to establish some sort of routine, whatever works for you.
Feed your pet at around the same time so that when that period of time reaches, they will eat their food as they are already programmed and will unlikely cause a fracas.
Tip: Only leave your cat’s food out for 15-30 minutes before taking it away. Do this for all meal times to create a sense of routine for your cat.
10. Stale Food
Nobody likes eating stale food and it would be unfair to expect your cat to eat some.
Dry kibble becomes stale when left out for long and loses its taste and smell. Wet food also spoils if left out for too long. The moisture and scent tend to attract flies which may lay eggs on the food.
Cats in the wild only take fresh food as they hunt their prey. Even the water they drink is fresh as they mostly drink from flowing rivers.
There’s a lot to understand on this topic that I can’t all fit in this post so I wrote a different blog post that you can check out on why cats like drinking flowing water.
11. They Are Full
Cats have a small stomach approximately the size of a ping pong ball. They are designed to only have small meals many times a day. This explains why a cat hunts a mouse and rests for several hours just grooming themselves before they go hunting again.
If you serve your kitto with a lot of food, they’ll just eat until they are full and ignore the rest. If by any chance they over-eat, they will vomit the excess food right back up.
What to Do If Your Cat Keeps Meowing With Food Still in the Bowl
Shake the food bowl. The movement of food particles restores the food’s scent and your cat may think it’s a fresh pile. Seeing you attending to their bowl may also trick your cat into thinking you have refilled their food bowl.
Why Do Cats Never Finish Their Food?
Cats will not fiish their food if they are full. You need to reduce the amount of food you’re serving. Changing to a wider food bowl can also help them finish all their food.
Why Is My Cat Acting Like Their Food Bowl Is Empty?
Cats sometimes act like there isn’t any food in their bowl because they cannot reach it. Unlike dogs, cats do not have long strong tongues that can scape a bowl clean. If some food is on the side, they have difficulty reaching it and will meow for help.
How to Encourage Your Cat to Eat More
If your cat is a fussy eater, here are some tips to encourage your cat to eat more:
- Keep the food bowl away from footpaths, halls, and corridors.
- If you have different cats, provide them with different food and water bowls.
- Clean your cat’s food bowls frequently.
- Mix up your cat’s food. Incorporate broths, fish soups, chicken, and beef.
- Replace your cat’s wet food frequently to avoid infections.
Why Does My Cat Take to Me to Her Bowl to Watch Her Eat?
Your cat wants you to watch her eat so you can provide a sense of security. Cats are at their most vulnerable when they are eating. Their heads are down and they can’t see their surroundings. With you around, they get a sense of security and they can let their guard down as they eat.