kittens refusing to eat their canned food- only like whitefish and tuna

haleyrose99

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I'm going to try my best to explain how tough the last two months have been :sigh:

I have two kittens both four months old and trying to figure out what wet food to buy/what they will actually eat has been a NIGHTMARE! When I got them from the shelter, they made no mention of any issues with eating, wet or dry (though they mentioned they only got pate). The first food I tried with them was Whole-hearted with shreds and gravy because it was grain free and seemed like a good brand, but one of my kittens had a terrible reaction to it and is now still on probiotics. So I had a friend recommend Wellness complete health, and for the last month and a half that's what I've been trying (and somewhat failing) to feed them. They get wet every six hours and dry all the time, but as of the last month or so, I can barely get sometimes both of my kittens to even eat it! At first, I started mixing dry and wet and I had no glaring issues but they really wouldn't eat more than a half can at a time. They also tended to lick the wet out of the dry, so eventually, I just stopped putting the dry in it to save some food. They still get dry food all the time. Doing only wet also worked for a bit, still, barely a half can each, but then I noticed they stopped eating the chicken pretty much altogether. They would sniff it, maybe lick it a few times, and then scratch the floor to cover it. So then I tried just the whitefish and tuna flavor, and they devoured it! Not a single meal did they not finish the fish.

Despite all this, I want them to have a variety of flavors to choose from so I randomly searched 'why are my cats only eating fish-flavored wet food' and my goodness did the search results freak me out! I had no idea that fish was addictive and could really harm my kittens. I've tried to stop the fish, and right now I'm just mixing it in a tiny bit with the chicken hoping the smell will carry enough so they eat the chicken, but so far no luck with that and they are still reluctant to eat it. It's a constant struggle every meal time with me on the floor either trying to get them to eat it off a spoon, putting treats on top (though they just lick it off and don't eat the food), or simply just giving up and sometimes they circle back to eat more an hour or two later.

I could really just use some advice. My only guess is they are bored with the chicken, which I understand if that's all they're getting every meal (Wellness has no kitten variety which sucks), but I'm reluctant to feed the fish now that I know it's not great. I don't know much about wet food brands because I just jumped to Wellness right out the gate, but I do know Friskies and Fancy Feast are like junk food cat foods, so if I can avoid those and those with heavily fishy ingredients I would like to. I'm also not super stacked so I can't really afford any super pricey goods either. I'm probably asking for a lot right now, but with all the food issues I'm exhausted and I just want my darn kittens to eat! This on top of the recent discovery that they have FIV has been really weighing me down. Anything helps!
 
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haleyrose99

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I will also add- the last day or so I've been considering fancy feast even if it's not that great, just to get them to eat. I've seen a lot of people say they feed fancy feast too, so I am willing to try that too at this point if it's recommended.
 

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Can you go back to, or add in, the pate they were getting at the shelter?

Fancy feast kitten food isn't all that bad, also there's Royal Canin Mother and Babycat.

Also, whitefish and tuna now and then isn't a bad thing :)
 
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haleyrose99

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Can you go back to, or add in, the pate they were getting at the shelter?

Fancy feast kitten food isn't all that bad, also there's Royal Canin Mother and Babycat.

Also, whitefish and tuna now and then isn't a bad thing :)
Unfortunately, when I called right after taking them home to ask (this was a few months ago) they told me they weren't sure what brand it was, they were just using what was donated to them.
I think I might just get off my high horse and buy FF or Royal Canine. I'm glad they can have a bit of fish, all the posts I read made it seem like it was a really big deal, and to totally stay clear of fish if I can. I did notice FF had a lot of fish flavors and not many without, though. Is that something to be concerned about?
 

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I sympathise. Back in 1995 when my mother rescued four-week-old Hadji, we had to feed him hourly on mashed up tinned food. When he was going onto solids our vet suggested trying him on raw meat. He refused to eat anything but beef and kidney for the rest of his fifteen years!
 

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One valuable thing I learned from this site is that in the end, it doesn’t matter what we want our cats to eat, what matters is what they will eat. Fancy Feast and Friskies pates are decent cat food and are popular because they are affordable and cats generally like them. I feed them to my cats along with Tiny Tiger, Purina One, Sheba, Fancy Feast Naturals and Heart to Tail, all pate versions and all the flavors. Occasionally I try something new but these brands are the favorites. I like to feed a wide variety so they don’t get stuck on just one food. They get a fish flavor once or twice a week for the fun of it. Maybe try some of these brands and see if you can get those kittens eating! Once they are eating well, maybe you could mix some of your preferred brand in with these and see if they will accept more and more of it.
 

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I'm going to try my best to explain how tough the last two months have been :sigh:

I have two kittens both four months old and trying to figure out what wet food to buy/what they will actually eat has been a NIGHTMARE! When I got them from the shelter, they made no mention of any issues with eating, wet or dry (though they mentioned they only got pate). The first food I tried with them was Whole-hearted with shreds and gravy because it was grain free and seemed like a good brand, but one of my kittens had a terrible reaction to it and is now still on probiotics. So I had a friend recommend Wellness complete health, and for the last month and a half that's what I've been trying (and somewhat failing) to feed them. They get wet every six hours and dry all the time, but as of the last month or so, I can barely get sometimes both of my kittens to even eat it! At first, I started mixing dry and wet and I had no glaring issues but they really wouldn't eat more than a half can at a time. They also tended to lick the wet out of the dry, so eventually, I just stopped putting the dry in it to save some food. They still get dry food all the time. Doing only wet also worked for a bit, still, barely a half can each, but then I noticed they stopped eating the chicken pretty much altogether. They would sniff it, maybe lick it a few times, and then scratch the floor to cover it. So then I tried just the whitefish and tuna flavor, and they devoured it! Not a single meal did they not finish the fish.

Despite all this, I want them to have a variety of flavors to choose from so I randomly searched 'why are my cats only eating fish-flavored wet food' and my goodness did the search results freak me out! I had no idea that fish was addictive and could really harm my kittens. I've tried to stop the fish, and right now I'm just mixing it in a tiny bit with the chicken hoping the smell will carry enough so they eat the chicken, but so far no luck with that and they are still reluctant to eat it. It's a constant struggle every meal time with me on the floor either trying to get them to eat it off a spoon, putting treats on top (though they just lick it off and don't eat the food), or simply just giving up and sometimes they circle back to eat more an hour or two later.

I could really just use some advice. My only guess is they are bored with the chicken, which I understand if that's all they're getting every meal (Wellness has no kitten variety which sucks), but I'm reluctant to feed the fish now that I know it's not great. I don't know much about wet food brands because I just jumped to Wellness right out the gate, but I do know Friskies and Fancy Feast are like junk food cat foods, so if I can avoid those and those with heavily fishy ingredients I would like to. I'm also not super stacked so I can't really afford any super pricey goods either. I'm probably asking for a lot right now, but with all the food issues I'm exhausted and I just want my darn kittens to eat! This on top of the recent discovery that they have FIV has been really weighing me down. Anything helps!
I feed my cats fancy feast classics. Also weruva,mediocre in price,not too much. A lot of the food includes fish besides beef,chicken,turkey,or duck. So it's not 100% fish. One of my cats does not like fish so that's a bonus! She steals food. I read somewhere that tuna lay eggs near the shallow water but the adults swim way down where all the bacteria is so maybe fisherman catch the little fishes? I don't know but if the foods AAFCO approved I assume it's not bad. Things I've written in the past just like many others is different now from having cats 20+ years
 
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Have you tried toppers? Purina makes Fancy Feast Broths which worked for me for a while.

My cat also tends to lick the juice up but shun the rest of the meat. I used to drain some of the broth out and add it back in as she ate, mixing it well, otherwise she'll just eat the liquid.

There are also several brands of wet food that come in pouches.
 
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haleyrose99

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Have you tried toppers? Purina makes Fancy Feast Broths which worked for me for a while.

My cat also tends to lick the juice up but shun the rest of the meat. I used to drain some of the broth out and add it back in as she ate, mixing it well, otherwise she'll just eat the liquid.

There are also several brands of wet food that come in pouches.
I actually haven't, the most I've done is squeeze half a "treat" sachet on top and they were intrigued to eat by that and ate some food... but I'm going to toppers soon! Seems like they need some enticing :sweat: I will look at pouches too, because they do tends to lick out the liquid unless I mix it in like you said
 
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haleyrose99

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Update: Just tried the turkey flavor of fancy feast all life stages and struck out, niether kitten will touch it :( One ate around it then proceeded to go eat the dry food, and the other would only eat it if I mixed it with the fish (she needs a probiotic so she had to eat). I let her sniff the chicken flavor too just to see, but she didn't want that either... I'm watching closely in case they puke and totally reject it. I'm going to try again later but I have little hope, I could only buy a 24 pack so I might have to donate it at the end of all this if they're not going to even try it :(
 
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Update: Just tried the turkey flavor of fancy feast all life stages and struck out, niether kitten will touch it :( One ate around it then proceeded to go eat the dry food, and the other would only eat it if I mixed it with the fish (she needs a probiotic so she had to eat). I let her sniff the chicken flavor too just to see, but she didn't want that either... I'm watching closely in case they puke and totally reject it. I'm going to try again later but I have little hope, I could only buy a 24 pack so I might have to donate it at the end of all this if they're not going to even try it :(
Did you get the pate version of the turkey? Since they were only eating pate at the shelter, I would try to stick with that in anything new you try (for now). The FF turkey and giblets is the only FF that doesn't contain some fish, so if they are fishaholics, I'm not surprised they didn't like it. But neither of my cats like turkey either, so maybe it's not so surprising. If you happened to purchase that case from Chewy, let them know it's a no-go and they will probably refund your money without the necessity of returning the food to them.

Just as an FYI, my cats won't eat Wellness, none of their lines. And pate eaters typically don't like anything but pate. Not always, but often.
 
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haleyrose99

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Did you get the pate version of the turkey? Since they were only eating pate at the shelter, I would try to stick with that in anything new you try (for now). The FF turkey and giblets is the only FF that doesn't contain some fish, so if they are fishaholics, I'm not surprised they didn't like it. But neither of my cats like turkey either, so maybe it's not so surprising. If you happened to purchase that case from Chewy, let them know it's a no-go and they will probably refund your money without the necessity of returning the food to them.

Just as an FYI, my cats won't eat Wellness, none of their lines. And pate eaters typically don't like anything but pate. Not always, but often.
I did get the pate, the Wellness they eat is pate too. But they are fishy kittens (wish I had known fish was addictive sooner), so I guess I also expected them not to like it. They tried Wellness core chicken and turkey and ate a little bit of that (they weren't super fans) but that gave me a sliver of hope. I sadly got it from Petco, and I'm not sure if they'll refund it if I've used a few cans in the box but I can definitely check if they do indeed reject all the flavors.
Although they get pate now, they actually did well with shreds from Whole-hearted (besides one little one getting diarrhea from the formula/ingredient mix) when I first got them home. I only switched to Wellness pate because of the allergy/reaction she had, and I wanted them on the same food (at the time) for convenience and we've just stuck with it. So even though they are pate kitties, I guess if they really won't eat any of the flavors I got as a last-ditch option I might try that again, maybe from another brand?
I've seen people recommend bonito flakes/tune juice on top as well, but aren't those just as bad as fish wet food? I'm just not super familiar with what all is dangerous when it comes to fish.
Also: as I type this, both of them have eaten a bit of the wet mixed food (chicken and turkey) so maybe there is some hope for them!! Trying not to get too stoked here in case it's a fluke:jive:
 

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I will agree with arr arr .
There's a LOT of information out there on cat foods and not a lot of science to back up what people say.

Commercial cat foods have helped us to make cats the only pet whose lifespan is extended rather than shortened. Because of that, we have learned that some cats develop conditions over time from certain foods and we can respond to those conditions by changing the diet. Very much like people!

Cats are individuals and there's no "right" or "wrong" diet, except what keeps your cat healthy and feeling good. No one can really tell you if there's "good" or "bad" food as there are NO longitudinal studies that state ANYTHING for cats without medical conditions. (except a single 9 year study by Purina showing that their Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus is better than their old formulas that no longer exist as they moved most formulas closer to that diet)

My advice: don't stress about it and feed her what they will like. Try to mix it up between similar formulas of different brands and flavours to keep their tummies strong and so you don't have issues if there are shortages.
 
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haleyrose99

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Update: Just tried the turkey flavor of fancy feast all life stages and struck out, niether kitten will touch it :( One ate around it then proceeded to go eat the dry food, and the other would only eat it if I mixed it with the fish (she needs a probiotic so she had to eat). I let her sniff the chicken flavor too just to see, but she didn't want that either... I'm watching closely in case they puke and totally reject it. I'm going to try again later but I have little hope, I could only buy a 24 pack so I might have to donate it at the end of all this if they're not going to even try it :(
Update again: my little guy did not sit well with Turkey from FF, he had half-solid half-runs in the litter box this morning :( He stepped in it too so he was very unhappy when I had to wipe it off his feet and butt. Not sure if I changed too fast (though they get half a can (1.5 oz) of chicken and I added maybe .25-.3oz to their food) or if he just couldn't stomach the formula. I don't want to keep giving it to them and have their digestion suffer. I'm watching my girl to see how she does when it comes out... They've had Wellness Core turkey and chicken and they did fine with that so maybe I will buy more of that. Was just hoping to expand to different brands but I guess I moved too quick? Not sure, thinking of just giving them plain chicken or fish for lunch in case to ease their tummies.
 
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haleyrose99

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I will agree with arr arr .
There's a LOT of information out there on cat foods and not a lot of science to back up what people say.

Commercial cat foods have helped us to make cats the only pet whose lifespan is extended rather than shortened. Because of that, we have learned that some cats develop conditions over time from certain foods and we can respond to those conditions by changing the diet. Very much like people!

Cats are individuals and there's no "right" or "wrong" diet, except what keeps your cat healthy and feeling good. No one can really tell you if there's "good" or "bad" food as there are NO longitudinal studies that state ANYTHING for cats without medical conditions. (except a single 9 year study by Purina showing that their Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus is better than their old formulas that no longer exist as they moved most formulas closer to that diet)

My advice: don't stress about it and feed her what they will like. Try to mix it up between similar formulas of different brands and flavours to keep their tummies strong and so you don't have issues if there are shortages.
Reading this definitely made me feel better. This isn't even my first pair of cats but I've been so stressed about making sure I'm doing everything right, but you're right every cat is different so I think I'm putting too much thought into every decision I make when it comes to them. I think the few health troubles they had is making me a bit crazy :sweat: I think I'll try another brand if FF really doesn't sit right with them. Thanks for the advice and comfort!
 

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Reading this definitely made me feel better. This isn't even my first pair of cats but I've been so stressed about making sure I'm doing everything right, but you're right every cat is different so I think I'm putting too much thought into every decision I make when it comes to them. I think the few health troubles they had is making me a bit crazy :sweat: I think I'll try another brand if FF really doesn't sit right with them. Thanks for the advice and comfort!
Happy to help. And hey, we all get like that sometimes. Now that I know more, I've been very sad that Nobel's life didn't get off to as good of a start as our new cats. But I remind myself I did my best!

I like Purina Pro Plan personally. There's a few options for it. I also give my cats Wureva once to 3 times a week (they like the lamb). Calcifer was 100% eating Iams Perfect Portions for a solid 3 months after some random tummy trouble that never happened again and we never found the cause of (could have been the Wellness kitten food. I reported it but I suspect it just effected him).
 
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