Feline friends are often finicky eaters. Some will only eat a particular trusted food, while others may eat a variety of foods but are unwilling to try anything new.
This pickiness has a purpose: Cats that avoid eating strange or different foods are less likely to get sick from eating spoiled food. However, it can be difficult for cat owners looking to introduce new foods or add a nutritional supplement or treat to a cat’s diet.
Despite the challenges of getting your cat to eat new things, it’s well worth the effort. And not only because it’s easier for you. It’s also important for your cat's health. In addition to ensuring that cats will eat even when their favorites are unavailable, a varied diet is vital — especially when you factor in that cats need dozens of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids.
That’s where cat food toppers come in.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what cat food toppers are and why their nutritional benefits are well worth the training effort.
We’ll also share tips for using cat food toppers to support your cat’s health and wellness, along with some examples of the best cat food toppers for picky eaters.
What Are Cat Food Toppers?
Cat food toppers come in many varieties and can be added to dry commercial cat food, wet cat food. In addition to boosting flavor, cat food toppers often can provide additional moisture or nutritional supplements to your cat’s diet. Cat food toppers come in a variety of forms: you can anticipate finding toppers that are served in a liquid format (like chicken broth or goat’s milk), wet toppers, and dry toppers. Some cat parents also opt to add their own whole food toppers to their pets meal, like pumpkin puree, kefir or a raw egg.
And because toppers can be easily integrated into your pet’s preferred food, you don’t have to worry about trying to introduce a brand new diet.
Benefits of Cat Food Toppers for Mealtimes
Different cat food toppers offer different health benefits.
For example, while some toppers may cater to cats with food allergies, others may be focused on aiding in weight loss or hydration. Practicing due diligence can help you identify the best cat topper option for your cat’s unique dietary needs.
Read on for a roundup of some of the health benefits offered by pet food toppers:
Whether your cat has a particular medical condition such as digestive upset, kidney disease, or chronic stress or your vet recommends food toppers to make up for a diagnosed nutritional deficiency, cat food toppers allow pet owners to customize their cat’s meals to their unique dietary needs.
A few examples of popular cat food toppers include:
- Fish oil: Contains essential omega-3 fatty acids with the potential to reduce chronic inflammation (and the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis) while promoting healthy skin and optimal coat health.
- Bone broth: An excellent and appetizing defense against dehydration — especially when warmed up to enhance its appetizing aroma.
- Pumpkin puree: Can help regulate digestion, ease the transition to new foods, and alleviate digestive concerns, such as constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting.
- Goat’s milk: packed with natural probiotics, goat’s milk is great for cats with sensitive tummies.
Cat food toppers feature appetizing flavors, intriguing aromas, and interesting textures that appeal to even the pickiest eaters. While this makes them enticing to all cats, they can be especially beneficial for cats suffering from low appetites. If your cat struggles to finish their meals, cat food toppers can provide critical appetite stimulation.
Protein-forward wet toppers are typically a great option for adding a boost of flavor to a meal that your cat may not otherwise be interested in.
Because cats don’t drink a lot of water, dehydration is a common problem. Liquid-form pet food toppers allow you to quickly and easily introduce more fluids into your cat’s dry kibble.
Adding Variety to Their Diet
Just like a varied diet is beneficial to humans, it’s also beneficial to cats. The wider the variety of food a cat eats, the wider the variety of nutrients they’re consuming.
Eating different foods also helps reduce pickiness in cats while also preventing stomach and digestion issues if and when your cat does eat something different.
Why Cats Need a Slow Transition to New Foods
Whenever you change your cat’s food, follow one guideline above all else: Make any changes (even good ones!) slowly.
Slow changes allow your cat time to accept the new food (and other changes associated with that food) physically, mentally, and emotionally.
And remember: While you may not think 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin puree is a significant amount of food, it can be a lot of fiber to a cat.
The takeaway? Too much of anything can affect the digestive system in a variety of ways, so make changes slowly.
How To Slowly Introduce New Foods to Your Cat’s Diet
Slowly introducing cat food toppers to your pet’s food is relatively straightforward. Below, we’ll break down the process of using chicken broth as a meal enhancer for your cat:
Begin by putting a teaspoon of chicken broth in a separate bowl beside your cat's normal meal. The first day your cat may pretend the broth isn't there. Simply repeat it again the next day.
By the third or fourth day, your cat may take a lick or two of the chicken broth or may even drink it all. Progress!
For your cat’s next meal, add a few bits of shredded chicken to the food and repeat the process.
Voila! It may have taken some time, but your cat will derive the benefits of a more varied diet in no time.
One final rule of thumb when introducing new food to your cat’s diet: Nothing added (as either a topper or treat) should exceed 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake. This not only ensures that the nutritional balance of their primary food remains consistent (think vitamin-mineral balance, for example) but also avoids creating a weight problem.
Best Cat Food Toppers for Mealtimes
All of which begs the question: Which are the best cat food toppers for your cat’s meals? Here are a few of our picks.
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they are meat eaters. It follows that many of the meal toppers your cat may like best will be meat.
If you cook dinner with chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, or another meat type, set aside a few tiny pieces of cooked meat. Dice these into small pieces before shredding finely. Then, sprinkle a pinch over your cat's next meal as a high-protein topper. A pinch is all that's needed. (Too much too often can be too many calories.)
You can repeat the same process with salmon, whitefish, trout, or another fish — all of which appeal to most cats. Again, tiny morsels of shredded fish are a good topper.
But be cautious when offering tuna. Because tuna can be addictive to cats, they may refuse other foods to wait for more tuna. While some shredded tuna is okay every once in a while, limit it to no more every few weeks and stick with other meats and cat food toppers on a more regular basis.
Although cats are meat eaters, some plant foods contain good nutrition. However, these foods need to be cooked so your cat's digestive system can utilize the nutrition. (Raw plant foods tend to go through the digestive tract unused.)
Vegetables can be steamed, baked, slow-cooked, or even cooked in an instant cooker. You can also use veggies you cook for yourself or your family; just set aside a few small pieces for your cat before the food is seasoned. Small pieces of sweet potato, green beans, squash, or pumpkin are acceptable. Puree these cooked vegetables in a food processor until they’re smooth with no chunks. Then, refrigerate and offer to your cat as a topper.
Again, take care to limit portions. Just 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons will provide adequate nutritional value without being excessive.
Commercial Supplements and Cat Food Toppers
It would be wonderful to make all of your pet’s meals fresh, but this is not practical or possible with today’s busy lifestyles.
And while there are many commercial dog and cat foods, freeze-dried pouches, kibble, mixers, and supplements for cats available for in-store and online purchase from large companies like Friskies, Fancy Feast, and Purina, not all are made with mindfully sourced ingredients and held to the highest, human grade standards for quality and safety.
All of The Honest Kitchen’s healthy cat food and pet food, cat treats, cat food toppers, and cat food supplements are grain free and made with this commitment, including the following:
MMMIXERS - Salmon & Pollock Topper
This flavor- and protein-packed meal topper or treat is loaded with a delightful duo of wild-caught salmon and pollock. And like all The Honest Kitchen offerings, vet-crafted MMMIXERS - Salmon & Pollock Topper is made only with only four 100% human grade ingredients, grain free, and contains no artificial preservatives, fillers, or GMO ingredients.
MMMIXERS - Chicken & Duck Topper
Is fish not your cat’s forte? MMMIXERS - Chicken & Duck Topper is another feline favorite — and the perfect cat food complement for all cat life stages thanks to its pure duck and chicken recipe.
Perfect Form Herbal Digestive Supplement
A herbal digestive supplement, Perfect Form is formulated with slippery elm, fennel, papaya, pumpkin seed, and plantain — all ingredients known to be beneficial for the digestive tract. Safe for both kittens and cats, it’s especially helpful for pets suffering from loose, softer than normal, or particularly smelly feces.
Not sure whether your cat needs herbal digestive supplements? Talk to your veterinarian to learn if your cat would benefit from them.
Cat Blend Instant Goat’s Milk
Made with a fusion of more than 1.5 billion active probiotics uniquely formulated to nurture digestive health, 100% human grade nutrient-dense Cat Blend Instant Goat’s Milk is an excellent way to improve your cat’s hydration levels while also bolstering gut health and the immune system. It can be offered poured over dry cat food or as a tasty drink on its own.
Get Nutritious and Flavorful Toppers for Your Cat From The Honest Kitchen
Whether you’ve been looking for ways to stimulate your cat’s waning appetite or for preventative measures to safeguard your cat’s health, cat food toppers are an excellent solution — especially clean, authentic, and trustworthy products made with integrity by The Honest Kitchen.
To improve your pet’s health, wellness, and happiness with the best cat food toppers, supplements, cat food, and dog food, stock up at The Honest Kitchen today.*Health Disclaimer: This post is educational in nature and doesn’t constitute health advice. Please consult your pet's veterinarian or other healthcare professional for specific guidance on this topic.