How can I teach a cat to pick up food with her teeth?

Renne

a kitten parent
Thread starter
Adult Cat
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
120
Purraise
81
Hello! Since kittenhood my cat had a peculiar problem: she doesn't know how to pick up food with her teeth in order to eat. What she does instead is lick her food in order to acrobatically put it into her mouth with her tongue. Naturally, that doesn't work too well.

I must stress that there is no medical problem involved. Healthy gums, healthy teeth. She's been like that since the first day we adopted her and up until now (almost 2y.o.).

This caused us a lot of problems. The cat is unable to eat wet cat food or human food, even if she clearly wants to: any small piece she tries to lick up into her mouth will keep falling a few times in a row. She may manage to throw it into her mouth after a few attempts if she really wants the food, but she will give up on eating quickly anyway, because it's too strenuous for her to deal with each small piece misbehaving. This has led to so much frustration for her that she doesn't even try to eat wet cat food anymore: she just licks up the sauce and leaves the meat alone.

Fortunately, she eats kibble. It's not without its own problems, but it's much easier for her. She eats it by licking it up, of course, but maybe its more solid state and smaller size help. She is free-fed, so she eats many times per day, which isn't long and tiring for her, like only 2-3 times per day would be. Even so, her bowl is always surrounded by kibble that she accidentally throws out of the bowl while licking it up.

I'd like to find a way to teach my cat to use her teeth to pick up the food. That would solve a lot of problems and would make eating less frustrating for her. At one point of time, last year, she was ill with panleikopenia, yet couldn't eat the medical wet food prescribed to her, due to these problems: she tried and tried, but eating wet food was such a long and frustrating process for her that she eventually completely gave up on eating in 3 days. She was prepared to starve rather than eat with such frustration, and I had to give her kibble again, despite vet's prescription. I hope to avoid another situation like this, but it might arise.

Any ideas on how to help my cat?
 
Last edited:

LTS3

TCS Member
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Aug 29, 2014
Messages
16,303
Purraise
15,321
Location
USA
Would elevating the bowl help make eating easier? It wouldn't hurt to try with a small upside down shoe box or something.

I wonder if your cat never learned from mom how to eat properly. I don't think there's a way to teach a cat how to eat properly. As long as the cat is eating and maintaining a good weight, the eating issue is just a quirk annoying as it may be.

This has led to so much frustration for her that she doesn't even try to eat wet cat food anymore: she just licks up the sauce and leaves the meat alone.
If she can lick sauce, she can lick up soupy pate canned food.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4

Renne

a kitten parent
Thread starter
Adult Cat
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
120
Purraise
81
It didn't occur to me to try blending wet food! A good idea for sure.

Would elevating the bowl help make eating easier? It wouldn't hurt to try with a small upside down shoe box or something.
That sounds like something to try, indeed. Might help a little.

I wonder if your cat never learned from mom how to eat properly.
We were told that she ate kibble along with her mom by the owner, however, when we gave her the very same kibble she acted like she didn't know how to eat it and didn't even like it anyway. So maybe she only drank mom's milk. But other kittens who get taken away early have learnt to eat properly on their own, right? I think it should be an instinct.
 

FeebysOwner

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
13,955
Purraise
18,608
Location
Central FL (Born in OH)
Feeby has always been a 'licker' of pates, but she can eat them - it just takes time for her to do so. I also frequently scoop up her pate into a pile which seems to make it easer for her to lap it up. And, I avoid any canned food but pates because she will not eat meat chunks.
You might try the blending as suggested above, but you could also try mixers such as Hartz Delectables Bisque that will make pate food more soupy so that it is more easily licked up. I also found Friskies Lil Gravies work almost as well. These are 'treat' type foods, but shouldn't be an issue to feed your cat when mixed with 'complete' cat foods. Also, have you considered trying Tiki Cat Mousse? They are complete cat food and are fairly 'soupy'.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6

Renne

a kitten parent
Thread starter
Adult Cat
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
120
Purraise
81
Thanks to English not being my first language, I initially misinterpreted what 'pate' is. Now I looked it up only to find out that I already tried pates, and my cat was very frustrated with them and eventually refused to eat them. She licked and licked, but it was very hard to lick anything up for some reason. The pate was too solid for her to lick up easily, perhaps that depends on the brand? From what people have said, it shouldn't have been the case.

It's hard to follow the brand suggestions precisely, as I live in Russia and here we don't have all of the US' catfood imported. But I get the idea :)
 

GeoDjay

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
84
Purraise
37
She was prepared to starve rather than eat with such frustration
I already tried pates, and my cat was very frustrated with them and eventually refused to eat them. She licked and licked, but it was very hard to lick anything up for some reason
This describes exactly how my cat is. Seriously... It's like you've been watching my cat. I've had her for 9 years and this is the first time I find someone else with a cat having the same eating method. I'm glad I'm not alone! :)
I've also had problems transitioning my cat to wet/raw food. I've tried fillets, pate, and shredded (the shredded was tried since she was a kitten), but to no avail. I've tried a blended raw and she would lick up only a bit before giving up. There's still the chunk type of wet food to try but I'm pretty sure what the results will be. I really wish I were able to write this reply with a solution at hand; I really do. However, here we are two helpless parents of cats with unusual eating habits.
 

FeebysOwner

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
13,955
Purraise
18,608
Location
Central FL (Born in OH)
Thanks to English not being my first language, I initially misinterpreted what 'pate' is. Now I looked it up only to find out that I already tried pates, and my cat was very frustrated with them and eventually refused to eat them. She licked and licked, but it was very hard to lick anything up for some reason. The pate was too solid for her to lick up easily, perhaps that depends on the brand? From what people have said, it shouldn't have been the case. It's hard to follow the brand suggestions precisely, as I live in Russia and here we don't have all of the US' catfood imported. But I get the idea :)
Sorry about that! Is the word 'mousse' used in any of the brands you have available? They are a soupier version of pate. But, if not, the blender, as mentioned above, would be the next best thing. If you have cat bone broths available, that is a good thing to try with the blender too. They add more flavor than just water, and will help make whatever you are blending into a more soupy kind of concoction.
 

FeebysOwner

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
13,955
Purraise
18,608
Location
Central FL (Born in OH)
This describes exactly how my cat is. Seriously... It's like you've been watching my cat. I've had her for 9 years and this is the first time I find someone else with a cat having the same eating method. I'm glad I'm not alone!
I don't know if you read my initial response to Renne Renne , but if you are in the US, look up the recommendations I made above and see if any of them might help. If you read my entire response, you will see that Feeby would seem to be in the general group of 'eaters' having similar issues.
 

mrsgreenjeens

Every Life Should Have Nine Cats
Staff Member
Advisor
Joined
Aug 13, 2009
Messages
14,567
Purraise
4,458
Location
Arizona
I don't know how to teach a cat to bite their food, but just want to offer hope to those whose cats don't do it. I have a 12 year old little guy who finally, just this year, started picking up his food with his mouth rather than trying to lick it to death. I have no idea what happened that he did this, but I was so excited about it that I praised and praised him the entire time he did it. He still doesn't do it every time he eats, but is doing it more and more now. My theory is that after all this time he hasn't felt satisfied (he IS rather slim) and finally just dove in :lol:
 

lisahe

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 23, 2014
Messages
4,967
Purraise
3,444
Location
Maine
Thanks to English not being my first language, I initially misinterpreted what 'pate' is. Now I looked it up only to find out that I already tried pates, and my cat was very frustrated with them and eventually refused to eat them. She licked and licked, but it was very hard to lick anything up for some reason. The pate was too solid for her to lick up easily, perhaps that depends on the brand? From what people have said, it shouldn't have been the case.

It's hard to follow the brand suggestions precisely, as I live in Russia and here we don't have all of the US' catfood imported. But I get the idea :)
You can add water to a pate so it's easier for her to lick. We do this for our cats so they get more water.

I don't know what wet cat foods are available where you live but remember seeing food in pouches (like these) in a Moscow grocery store some years ago (2012 I think). The recipe for this one (duck!) doesn't look bad, though who knows what the загустители (thickeners) are. Whether you get pate or a wet food that's in little pieces (like this one), if you have a little food processor you can blend it with some water. Not all foods blend easily -- you're right that a lot depends on the brands -- but the foods that do blend easily make a nice, lickable food. (I read and write Russian so just ask or send a note в личку if you have questions!)
 

ladytimedramon

TCS Member
Alpha Cat
Joined
Apr 29, 2020
Messages
397
Purraise
302
I don't know if you have it where you are, but Weruva makes a "hydrating puree" which is more like a pudding than a pate.
 

di and bob

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 12, 2012
Messages
13,615
Purraise
17,148
Location
Nebraska, USA
I would just take a fork and mix water into a pate food to make it almost liquid so your cat could lap it up. I have a cat that has some congenital problems (inbred) and laps up food too, he can eat but not without trouble. He mostly pushes it around the plate. He also has slightly crooked front legs. He loves the lickable treats they have out now in the treat section. He also has little trouble eating hard food and is my little 'chicken monster' who gets cut-up deli chicken about 5 times a day for years. He has no problems picking the chicken up, just takes longer.
 

GeoDjay

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
84
Purraise
37
I don't know if you read my initial response to Renne Renne , but if you are in the US, look up the recommendations I made above and see if any of them might help. If you read my entire response, you will see that Feeby would seem to be in the general group of 'eaters' having similar issues.
I have used the piling up method and it only made her lick just a few licks more than she usually does before stopping eating. I might try to add water and see what happens. When I tried raw food, it had so much moisture and was very soft (much softer than any pate she tried before); it was almost like a wet treat in consistency. Unfortunately, she took a few licks and chose to starve instead, so I don't have high hopes with adding water. :lol:
 

GeoDjay

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
84
Purraise
37
I have a 12 year old little guy who finally, just this year, started picking up his food with his mouth rather than trying to lick it to death. I have no idea what happened that he did this, but I was so excited about it that I praised and praised him the entire time he did it.
I hope a miracle like this happen with my cat. :lol:
 
Top