"I just adopted Ashlene, a one-year-old cat that I suspect was abandoned before. Though sweet and friendly, I am worried about her appetite as she eats and drinks extremely little and does not like dry food. How can I get her to eat kibble?"
It is great that you adopted Ashlene and gave her a chance for a good and loving home! Rehomed cats can definitely feel stressed from the change of environment and owners.
Take note of her previous medical history (if any is available). Ensure she is already neutered and has received all her vaccinations and worming treatments.
It is also important to confirm that she doesn’t have any external parasites like ear mites, fur mites or fleas. Cats, especially the friendly and sweet ones, can adapt quickly to a new environment and owner in a matter of a week or so. Hopefully, her appetite will improve slightly by then.
However, I am not entirely certain that it is totally due to the environment change. Some cats, especially some petite-sized females, can be very picky when it comes to their diet choices.
Some prefer wet food because it is more palatable and easy to swallow. Others prefer kibble as they enjoy chomping hard into the biscuits. Have a look and check the inside of Ashlene’s mouth – lookout for any angry redness, pain or bad breath.
Dental disease can result in a reluctance to chew on dry foods. Cats can have painful ulcers on their tongue, inner cheeks and gums which result in a preference for wet food.
In general, felines are not active drinkers of water and a diet based mainly on canned food will often contribute much of their fluid requirements. You can try to get a water fountain designed for cats and she may be more intrigued to drink.
Bring Ashlene for a vet check-up. Blood tests can determine the health status of her internal organs like kidneys and liver. Get a thorough, physical examination to ensure she has a clean bill of health and good dental condition. For a proper dental check and cleaning, Ashlene might need to be sedated.
After making sure that she is in perfect health, you can slowly experiment with different food types or brands to find the ones that she will enjoy. You can increase Ashlene’s appetite and improve her digestive health by giving her vitamins and probiotics.
Dr Grace Heng
Veterinary Surgeon BV (Sydney)
Resident Veterinarian at The Joyous Vet