Cat Not Eating Food But Eats Treats | Causes And Remedies

cat not eating food but eats treats

Your cat not eating food but eats treats only, ignoring their regular food, but won’t stop asking for treats. What can be the reason? Sometimes, your cat might stop eating one type of food while happily enjoying treats, creating confusion. This might be due to many reasons.

Similar to how we prefer tasty but unhealthy snacks over nutritious meals, cat treats are often more flavorful than regular cat food. Even if your cat is facing a health issue or another reason for the change in appetite, they might still enjoy treats simply because they taste good!

In this article, discover why your cat is not eating food but eats treats more often and learn why acting quickly is crucial. Get practical advice on what to do in this situation and understand the possible downsides of cat treats. Keep reading for helpful information.

7 Common Reasons Your Cat Not Eating Food But Eats Treats

You might wonder, “Why is my cat obsessed with food?” as they eagerly anticipate mealtime and show heightened interest in treats.

Let us understand some of the most common reasons that cause a cat to avoid their regular food. 

1. Your Cat is Less Hungry

When your cat only eats treats and avoids dry food, it might signal a decline in their overall appetite. This makes them more attracted to cat treats. A decreased appetite is a common sign in cats, suggesting it could be a symptom of various medical conditions.

Occasionally, you might observe additional signs such as weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy. Alternatively, your cat might appear and behave normally, except for their lack of interest in anything other than treats. You might also be wondering can cat eat ginger, checkout our article about Can Cats Eat Ginger? Understanding the Risks & Benefits.

cat not eating wet food

2. Your Cat is Not a Fan of Dry Food

Your cat might suddenly grow distasteful for their dry food and stop eating it. This could be related to the food’s altered flavor, texture, or aroma. Although your cat’s senses are more developed than yours, they will likely perceive the kibble differently.

This can occur if the brand you usually buy from changes its production standards or produces lower-quality food. In such cases, it’s advisable to opt for reputable brands.

3. Your Cat Prefers Something Other Than Dry Food

Sometimes, your cat might eat treats simply because they enjoy it. Perhaps you’ve been offering more treats lately, and they’ve developed a liking for them, or you switched to a new brand that’s especially tempting.

Consequently, your cat may delay eating their regular food for more treats. The issue is that they’re often correct because if cats go without eating for several days, it may result in a concerning medical condition. We’ll explore those issues further in this blog later on.

Cat not eating wet food? Here’s why:
  • Picky eater: Try different flavors and textures.
  • Cold food: Warm it slightly.
  • Dental issues: See your vet.
  • Stress or anxiety: Create a calm environment.

4. Your Cat is Adjusting to a New Environment

As previously discussed, changes in your cat’s environment can easily turn them into a picky eater. This is particularly true for domestic cats, who are used to the comforts of life and tend to resist change.

Check for any recent changes. Is there a new pet or person in the house? Have you shifted from supervising your cat’s meals to letting them eat independently? Even a slight adjustment, like reducing bowl cleaning frequency, can make your cat reject dry food.

5. You are Giving Too Many Treats

Another reason your cat might only crave treats and reject dry food is your generosity with treats in the first place. When your cat doesn’t eat much, you might use treats to tempt them, reducing their regular food consumption. This creates a cycle.

Cats, being clever creatures, quickly learn that skipping dinner earns them a tasty reward. Over time, this can foster a selective attitude towards food and elevate the risk of health issues like obesity.

6. Your Cat is Dehydrated

Despite trying the tips mentioned earlier, you might wonder if my cat only eats treats over dry food due to dehydration. This is particularly likely if they enjoy wet food but refuse the dry kind.

This also indicates that your cat does not have access to fresh water. This is sometimes also linked to medical conditions, as mentioned above. Therefore, you should ensure that your cat has easy access to fresh water all the time.

Dehydration might be the reason your cat avoids kibble in hot weather. Cats are more prone to dehydration when temperatures rise, and the heat can also reduce their appetite for a heavy meal – much like how we might crave a light salad over a hefty roast on a scorching summer day.

7. Your Cat Doesn’t Want To Eat With Other Pets

Lastly, observe whether your cat avoids sharing the same food bowl with other pets if you have any. Cats often prefer not to share their food bowl with other pets, leading them to avoid that food altogether.

Is it Okay to Give My Cat Treats All the Time?

Avoid feeding your cat only treats; this can lead to obesity and a decline in their overall health. It boils down to maintaining a balanced diet, which is crucial for your cat’s overall health. 

my cat will only eat treats

Cats need specific essential elements, such as the right mix of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Even the most budget-friendly commercial cat foods adhere to basic minimum standards to ensure balanced nutrition.

In contrast, treats are formulated to complement your cat’s regular food and generally don’t constitute a well-rounded diet. Moreover, many treats are high in fat and calories, akin to sustaining ourselves solely on chips and candy—delightful but lacking in nutrition.

Kitten not eating wet food? Try:
  • Warming it up
  • Mixing it with dry food
  • Hand feeding
  • Small, frequent meals
  • Different bowls
  • Consistent feeding times

As a result, the potential problem intensifies with the risk of Hepatic Lipidosis. Cats who abstain from eating or consume only small amounts for a few days can develop this condition, particularly in overweight cats. When a cat’s body tries to metabolize fat to make up for not eating, it can result in fatty liver syndrome, another name for the condition.

Consequently, the cat’s liver becomes overloaded with fat processing, leading to diminished liver function. Without intervention, this can progress to liver failure and, ultimately, death. Treating hepatic lipidosis is often complex and may necessitate prolonged hospitalization. 

Given the severity of this condition, it’s crucial not to dismiss your cat’s preference for treats over dry food. 

What to Do if Your Cat Not Eating Food But Eats Treats

Are you wondering what to do if your cat not eating food but eats treats all the time? Try these tried-and-true, useful tips to help transition your cat from treats to regular food.

a. Eliminating Medical Conditions

The initial step in understanding this problem is eliminating any potential underlying medical conditions affecting their appetite. Similarly, exploring potential reasons, like dental problems or dietary preferences, is essential if you observe your cat not eating wet food. Your veterinarian might suggest lab work or other tests to pinpoint health issues.

Once medical concerns are ruled out, focus on dry food. Is it expired, emitting an odd smell, or has it gone stale from being open too long? You should also consider getting a fresh bag of your cat’s regular brand to observe their response. If there’s still reluctance, experiment with a different flavor or brand of dry food or consider transitioning to wet food to arouse their appetite.

b. Mixing Wet Food With Dry Food

You can also make dry food more appealing for your cat by adding a bit of wet food, tuna, cooked meat, or another tasty treat. But be careful because there’s a chance your cat might just eat the extra goodies and ignore the main meal.

c. Introducing Raw Diet

Adding raw food to your cat’s diet offers taste and texture variety, appeals to their instincts, aids digestion, boosts energy levels, reduces allergies, enhances dental health, strengthens the immune system, and helps manage weight. 

To transition successfully, start slowly, choose high-quality raw food, ensure freshness, and closely monitor your cat’s response. Always consult your vet before making changes in your cat’s diet.

d. Reducing the Amount of Treats

While treats are an excellent means of bonding and rewarding good behavior with your cat, it’s crucial to monitor the quantity. Excessive treats may result in weight gain, health issues, and the development of picky eating habits.

Also, if your cat stopped eating wet food but will eat dry food, there may be changes in taste preferences or dental discomfort. You may also try hummus and read more about Can Cats Eat Hummus? Facts You Need To Know.

e. Monitoring Routine

If you’ve inadvertently let some routines slide, like less frequent bowl cleaning, try reverting to the old habits to see if it improves your cat’s eating habits. Sometimes, we don’t notice these changes, and getting back to your usual routine might bring back your cat’s appetite.

In cases where changes are unavoidable, like introducing a new pet, establish a new and consistent routine to help your cat regain comfort and return to regular eating. Adjusting might take time, but their appetite should return once they realize the changes aren’t a threat.

why is my cat obsessed with food

f. Positive Reinforcement

Treats lack the nutrients found in kibble and cannot constitute a complete diet alone. Instead of rewarding your cat for refusing dry food to break this cycle, focus on reinforcing good behavior. Stop giving treats and establish regular feeding times throughout the day.

Initially, your cat may resist eating, but hunger should prevail after a few days, improving their appetite for dry food. They’ll realize that dry food is their only option, so it’s better to eat it than go hungry.

g. Providing Fresh Water

Always ensure fresh water for your cat; remember to refill their bowl at least once daily. If your feline friend is picky about drinking, a cat water fountain could entice them, as cats often prefer flowing water over still water.

Try adding water to their dry food to see if it attracts their interest. Providing fresh water not only helps them consume more liquid but also makes them feel fuller, making it a valuable trick for curbing the appetite of cats who’ve indulged in too many treats. You can also mix some of their dry food with wet food.

h. Separating Food Bowl

Finally, if your cat doesn’t want to share the current food bowl with other pets, or even if you don’t have other pets, consider offering a separate food bowl. This can address any issues your cat may have with the bowl itself.

If the above tips are unsuccessful, your vet may recommend additional measures, such as using appetite stimulant medication.


Don’t worry if your cat prefers treats over dry food, but addressing the issue is essential. Your vet can help identify the reasons behind this unusual eating habit, as cats can’t go without food for long. 

Treats are tasty but unnecessary for your cat’s diet, so limit them if they distract from regular meals. Create a regular feeding schedule and make sure your cat is at ease. If issues persist, consult your vet for advice. Be patient with your kitty and yourself.


If your cat will only eat treats, consider gradually reintroducing balanced meals and consulting with a vet.

Feeding your cat only treats is not recommended for their overall health and nutritional needs.

Yes, cats can suddenly stop liking their food, and it’s essential to identify the cause, such as taste preferences or health issues.

If a cat won’t eat, try offering different textures and flavors, or consult with a vet to address any underlying health concerns.

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