Elderly cats seem to develop the uncanny ability to drive us batty opening can after can of wet food in an attempt to get them to eat. I know I've opened up to 5 cans before Maui finally showed some mercy and caved in. Why are old cats such picky eaters?
Very likely, your old kitty has a reduced sense of smell. With age comes the loss of senses and frankly, we all gotta admit we like smelling good food before we eat too. With cats, this lack of smell can throw off their appetite. Putting out cans of stinky tuna blend cat foods just isn't the answer either. High smell doesn't necessarily mean a happy cat.
First, rule out any other reason for finickiness. Does your old cat have a cough or sneeze that might indicate an upper respiratory infection? If so, visit the vet. If not, move to step two. You might have created the monster. It's tempting to feed foods that are familiar and as a result, put your cat right into a feeding rut. Change up the foods frequently, using high quality, low fat foods that offer a wide variety of tastes to challenge your old kitty's palate.
A new dish can work wonders for making a kitty happy. As simple as this sounds, a stinky plastic dish being washed is still a stinky plastic dish that's been washed. Purchase a long lasting ceramic or metal dish to eliminate any smell residue that might annoy your cat. Wash it thoroughly after every feeding.
If your old cat is stuck in a confirmed feeding rut, rise to the challenge. Purchase a variety of healthy wet foods and provide a little buffet to challenge his or her taste buds. Try no more than a tablespoon of wet food each time. Let your cat choose for awhile. You're also showing him that there are other options if he'd prefer.
Cat food is expensive, especially the high end brands. Not to worry. Cover and refrigerate unused portions for the next feeding. If your cat turns up his nose at cold food, add warm water in small amounts to make some gravy to bring the food to room temperature. Make sure it's not too hot so you don't burn the cat's mouth. Never heat any pet food in the microwave.