So, I got to wondering -- why? What do I do that these other owners do not do? Or vice versa.
I think they have ignored a few basic ideas:
- Cats prefer kibble because of the crunch. If they have access to kibble, they will gravitate to it instead of raw. James and Tolstoy grew up on raw but they go nuts over kibble as a treat. So when owners try raw and kibble, eventually the raw loses because it's not crunchy. Most raw feeders I know feed only raw with occasional treats of crunchies.
- Cats like stability. If you present a cat with a new food every day or two, the cat gets confused. By constantly changing food, the cat learns that a new food may appear in a day, so if it is not fond of the first food, wait a day and it's a different food.
- Cats need time to adjust to new food. It does take 5-14 days for a cat to fully adjust to a new food. If the owner gives a new food and then replaces this food before the cat is adjusted to it, the cat's body never fully adapts to any one food. When a cat’s body is not adjusted to the food, the cat is not comfortable and so comes to associate food and being uncomfortable.
- Cats' appetites vary for a variety of reason. A cat will not eat the same amount each and every day. If a cat doesn't eat everything for one day, so what? In the wild, cats do not eat 2 meals a day, every day. It’s not uncommon for small cats to miss meals for 1-2 days, yet domestic cats are ‘required’ to eat constantly by owners.
- Specifically with raw, cats will overeat raw when first introduced. This I believe is a response to the nutrient-rich nature of the raw and the nutrient-deficient state a cat is in when put on raw. The cat's body discovers the raw has all the nutrients the old food did not, so it eats more to catch-up. After a while, once the deficits are filled, the cat resumes eating a more normal amount. But then the owner panics because the cat is eating less. (This nutrient-deficiency may also be related to cats going from one food obsession to another -- when the shortage becomes severe enough, the cat refuses to eat it, knowing it will get something else, which hopefully will solve that shortage.)
- Cats take months to years to break the grazing habit. With grazing, a cat never develops an appetite because it never is hungry. Many cats will eat out of boredom. When transiting a cat, breaking the grazing habit is the hardest -- much harder than kibble to raw actually. It takes firmness from the owner not to sneak extra treats or small snacks or only leave the bowl of kibble out at times.
- Cats do pick up on owner’s anxiety about food.
Now, I have had cats who are picky eaters because of energy imbalances. (Yes, I know it sounds New Age, but western medicine sure doesn't have all the answers for cat care.) I have used homeopathy to remedy energy imbalances. It may take months or even a year, but usually I have had success and in the process, it also got rid of other issues and the cat becomes more eager to eat. But I believe these cats are few and far between.