Along with a check-up and the right diet, this easy acupressure session can help turn around your picky eater.
If your cat is a picky eater, she’s not alone. Cats are often labeled “finicky eaters”. There are several reasons for this – and several things you can do to help correct it.
To start with, your cat is a “protein obligate”. This means her diet must be high in animal protein. The ancient Egyptians discovered and cultivated the cat’s talent for ridding their grain of mice and other rodents. A mouse is made of bone, muscle and organs, with some vegetable content in the stomach. In other words, a mouse represents the natural balance of protein and complex carbohydrates that makes up the ancestral feline diet. The internal organs and nutritional needs of today’s cats haven’t changed much from those of ancient Egypt’s marginally domesticated mousers.
Secondly, in nature, there’s a six- to eight-week window during kittenhood in which the mother feline teaches her babies what’s safe to eat. Once this patterned knowledge is set in a kitten’s psyche, it’s pretty much set for life. So if you offer a food that the mother has not introduced, she’ll most likely turn up her nose at it.
Lastly, cats are by nature predatory. They prefer to eat small animals they have just killed. Commercial pet food would not be their first choice and isn’t as nutritionally fulfilling as real meat.
Over thousands of years, cats have adapted to living with humans, but these basic instincts are still a part of their makeup. A growing number of people are now feeding their cats food that more closely represents the ancestral feline diet, but many still struggle with finicky behavior, especially when trying to introduce something new.
Loss of appetite — 3 steps to a solution
A good diet plus your cat’s ability to metabolize nutrients play an important role in his health and longevity. Whenever your cat’s appetite fades, you need to start by finding out whether he’s just being a picky eater, or might have a health problem.
1. There are many physical reasons why a cat may not eat, including illness, injury, poisoning, stress or aging issues. Ruling these out is always the first step in addressing appetite loss, so a vet visit is in order, especially if the cat is vomiting and/or has diarrhea, and/or hasn’t eaten in more than 24 hours.
2. If your cat has no underlying medical problems, but still seems lackadaisical about what he does or doesn’t eat, the next step is to try different varieties of food to see what appeals to him. Proceed slowly and carefully – a sudden introduction of new food can trigger diarrhea.
3. If your cat still needs an appetite boost, acupressure can help. Even he has a medical issue, taking an integrative approach by combining acupressure with your veterinarian’s recommendations can restore his appetite more readily. Through thousands of years of clinical observation, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners have identified specific “acupoints” that are known to help stimulate appetite and support nutrient absorption.
- Shan gen, “Base of the Mountain”: This “classical” acupoint is located just back from your cat’s nose, toward his eyes and on the center line. It’s known to trigger a desire to eat. Starting at your cat’s nose, gently rub back toward his eyes using the soft tip of your pointer finger. Keep rubbing that spot for a slow count of 20. This point is specifically used to stimulate appetite in animals, and has the added advantage that most cats find it relaxing.
• Stomach 36 (St 36), “Master Point for the Gastro-Intestinal Tract”: This point is commonly used for any appetite and digestive disorder. It’s the go-to point for supporting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. St 36 is located on the lateral side of the hind leg just below the knee (stifle) joint. Lightly scratch this acupoint for a slow count of 20.
• Spleen 3 (Sp 3): In Chinese medicine, the Spleen is instrumental in breaking down food into the nutrient-rich substance that’s the foundation of blood. Sp 3 is an acupoint known to bring powerful energy to the entire digestive process. It is often used to resolve diarrhea or constipation because it balances the energy of the abdomen. Gently place the soft tip of your thumb or pointer finger on Sp 3, which is located on the medial side of the hind leg just above the cat’s paw.
Take your time and enjoy this acupressure session with your cat. Along with veterinary care and healthy food that simulates as closely as possible his ancestral diet, acupressure may be exactly what he needs to get over being a picky eater.