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Advice on switching my cats from wet food only to dry food only

Discuss ways to improve the quality of your cat's life and longevity through proper nutrition; a place for all of your questions and answers about feeding your kitty!

Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times. Non-informative posts criticizing a particular brand or another poster's choice of food are not allowed in this Forum. References to any brand of food as "junk," "garbage," or other harsh names will be removed.

  
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Kaci- Sunshine - Beloved- Angel

Sugar 'n Spice
 
 
Purred: Sat Jul 25, '09 2:48pm PST 
My question is: how do I stop feeding my cats wet food and switch them over to a high quality dry food? For the past 3 years they’ve eaten wet food only and I’m afraid a sudden switch will make them sick. Also, one of my cats can’t eat both wet and dry food together (explained below) so a gradual transition might be dicey. What are the good dry foods on the market? Any ideas on transitioning?

Money is starting to get tight because I lost my job and feeding dry food would be cheaper. My cats have eaten only wet foods over the past 3 years. I’ve had to downgrade the quality from Wellness and Weruva and they’re now eating mostly Friskies along with some Pro Plan and Fancy Feast. However, I’m not comfortable feeding them Friskies (but that’s just my own concern–I’m not criticizing anyone who feeds Friskies!) plus there’s another problem with Mittens. My cats are 13 years old and both have health problems so this may or may not be a good idea.

Some background:

Mittens has always been a very fussy eater as far as wet food goes. She's become even fussier over the past year, esp. since she was diagnosed with cancer. She’s on chemo and other meds and that may be the reason she’s become so picky. When she used to eat both wet and dry foods, she always preferred her dry food and I don't think she's ever forgiven me for taking it away from her! She's always been a fussy stinker about wet food. She starts out liking a wet food and after eating it a few times, stops liking it and won’t eat it. She craves novelty but there’s only so many brands of cat food out there! I’ve fed her or tried to feed her almost every brand of canned food on the market. She wants to eat all the time and cries and cries for food. I try to ignore her to see if she’ll eat what’s in her dish but she usually won’t. I can’t afford to keep opening can after can of cat food and throwing the food away, no matter how cheap it is! This is my main reason for wanting to switch to dry food only, at least until I find a job.

Kaci Sunshine has her problems too (including hyperthyroidism and suspected IBD) but she really isn't a fussy eater. Three years ago, Kaci vomited her food at least once a day. Her intestines had become very inflammed. She's a very high strung cat and we didn't know if she has IBD or whether it was from the stress of losing her old home and coming to live in mine. Her vet had me stop feeding wet food and we tried different prescription dry foods but it didn’t help much. Plus she eats the dry food way too fast. Next her vet had me switch her to wet food only. She slowly improved to the point where she only vomits a few times a month. I’m not sure whether only eating dry food didn’t help her 3 years ago because she was having an IBD flare up because of stress and nothing much was going to help right then or whether the dry food was one of the causes of her problem along with stress. But I can’t switch Mittens without switching Kaci too!

Any advice?
(sorry this post is so long-winded! laugh out loud)
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Gracie

I'm the baby,- gotta love me!
 
 
Purred: Sat Jul 25, '09 3:12pm PST 
I only have advice as far as avoiding mixing of dry and wet (so as to not upset Kaci's digestive tract). Start out giving dry as a snack, away from their meals. So say they eat at 7 AM and 7 PM, you pick a point in between... like around 1 PM to give them a little bit of dry food. Just a tablespoon or so. If they were on dry in the past, they will recognize it as food.

Now, I do think that Mittens will start pestering you for the food once she has a bit, but basically make sure you do not reward her crying. Give them dry on your schedule, and your schedule only. If they acclimate to the dry food snack well (no poo or vomiting), I would then think you could try and switch one of their meals from wet to dry, and go from there.

Transitioning doesn't necessarily mean mixing the two foods (that's a no-no with dry and wet... the wet can cause bacterial growth on the dry, and that would definitely upset a cat's tummy), but it does mean giving them time to get used to new food. This is why I suggest making dry food a small snack at first, and then just one of two portions of food.
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Sprinkles

NO I will NOT- shut up
 
 
Purred: Sat Jul 25, '09 3:24pm PST 
I personally am not a dry food fan. If wet has improved his condition like you said, why not stick to it. Canned has more meat and high quality protein than dry. It's high in moisture so cats don't hve to drink much water(they are designed to get most of their water from food) I feed Sprinkles Fancy feast, a middle grade canned food with raw supplementation and she's doing great.

Fancy feast is very affordable. 24 cans is around $11 at my grocery store, but maybe it's just more expensive where you live. IDK shrug I also feed raw chicken gizzards and heart alot. A whole pack of them is just a dollar since no human will eat them. And gizzards are great for their teeth and gums.

If I were in your situation, and couldn't even afford fancy feast, I would at least feed a wet food like friskies with a bit of raw supplementation. It's much better than feeding your cat purina cat chow or iams dry.

Friskies, as long as it's canned will be fine for your cat, I don't think theres any need to worry about it. And if you live near trader joes, their canned food is $0.50 for per 5.5 oz can.

Dry food should be a treat. Sprinkles enjoys friskies dry as a treat. And your cat who loves dry would enjoy at least a treat of dry food.

Edited by author Sat Jul 25, '09 3:35pm PST

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Gracie

I'm the baby,- gotta love me!
 
 
Purred: Sat Jul 25, '09 3:28pm PST 
Uhm... did you miss the part where she said she can't afford to feed all wet anymore? Or that she would rather not feed Friskies? Because you're not really answering her question, there.

Something I forgot to say, Kaci: even if you never progress to having more than one meal of dry out of two daily meals (spaced apart as much as possible), that in and of itself might cut your food bill enough for you to get by, and then moving them back to all wet when you can afford it will not be such a shock again too.
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Sprinkles

NO I will NOT- shut up
 
 
Purred: Sat Jul 25, '09 3:37pm PST 
I was just saying friskies canned is perfectly fine as long as she supplements with a bit of cheap meats(chicken gizzard/heart). And she'll still be doing better than dry. So I was answering. confused

jeez Gracie frown

Edited by author Sat Jul 25, '09 3:41pm PST

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Amber

I didn't do it!
 
 
Purred: Sat Jul 25, '09 4:16pm PST 
Grainless foods are probably out of your range, as they are often more expensive than wet that contains grains.

You may consider Taste Of The Wild though, if you can get it at an acceptable price. It is usually on the cheaper side of the grainless ladder.

I don't feed dry, but I would think that the canned food brands that are good are the same brands as good dry food. Newman's Own, Natural Balance, Innova, Etc. Natural Life isn't perfect but its much better than some of the options out there, its on the cheaper side, and you can find it at walmart. Basically, avoid by-products and unspecified sources (meat, animal, poultry), corn, wheat, and soy. Go as low-carb as you can on your budget. Avoid BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, and Menadione.

What brands do you have that are available to you and within your price range? It may be easier to help you pick if you could provide options to choose from.
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Kaci- Sunshine - Beloved- Angel

Sugar 'n Spice
 
 
Purred: Sat Jul 25, '09 4:18pm PST 
Gracie, you sure have Mittens figured out! laugh out loud She'll definitely start pestering me once she gets a taste of the dry and I'll do my best to stay strong! A big problem is I'm a sitting duck because I'm home so much.

Kaci & Mittens get a very small third meal around 9:00 every night and that may be a good time to introduce the dry food. Kaci needs her meals spaced so that there's at least 4 hours between eating and this will work. The late snack started when I was transitioning them from dry to wet food. I tried it as a pacifier when I had almost weaned them completely and it was the only time they got dry food before I took it away for good. Once started, it continued with wet food, so I'll just reverse it. big grin

Sprinkles, I would prefer to continue with wet food but Mittens isn't cooperating. Even Friskies and Fancy Feast are expensive when you have to throw away uneaten food and open can after can. I can't afford it anymore. She just doesn't like anything! I can get Fancy Feast for $.50 a can and Friskies for $.40 a can at PetSmart. Buying it by the case is probably cheaper but if I do that, you can bet the house that whatever I buy, Mittens won't eat it!

My girls will not touch hearts or livers, cooked or raw. And they're hard to find where I live, esp. hearts. When I was trying to feed them a raw diet, I used to go looking for hearts (they're loaded with taurine) but I was told the stores didn't have them. I did get them when I'd buy a whole organic chicken but they wouldn't eat any organ meats.

hug
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Kaci- Sunshine - Beloved- Angel

Sugar 'n Spice
 
 
Purred: Sat Jul 25, '09 4:38pm PST 
Amber, I have access to just about everything out there so you can recommend anything and I'll be able to find it. I live near a store that sells only quality brands and that's where I used to buy all their food. I don't mind paying for a quality brand of dry food as long as they'll eat it because it lasts longer and will still save me money.

Mittens used to love Innova (the regular, not EVO). Kaci is harder to please when it comes to dry food (why isn't anything ever simple with these two cats?!). One of the few dry foods she ever liked was Eukanuba and it was never my first or second choice for her.

Several months ago (long before I lost my job) I bought Wellness Core to give them as treats but neither cat liked it. Ditto for Orijen. I've read that a lot of cats like Taste of the Wild and maybe I'll try that. Are there any other brands you can recommend?
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Gracie

I'm the baby,- gotta love me!
 
 
Purred: Sat Jul 25, '09 7:45pm PST 
Kaci,

we have a Mittens-like cat here. His name is Boris. You can't make an exception to any rule with Boris. One day you innocently feed him a small sliver of cooked turkey, the next day he might climb up on you while you're eating a turkey sandwich, and then meow up a storm when the human dares pull the sandwich back. big laugh

One day the food dispenser pops up early, the next day he wakes you up at 5 AM by meowing while swatting at you to say "it's not popping up. I know it's supposed to pop up right now because it did yesterday. That means it's supposed to pop up at 5 AM today! So please come fix it!"

Mom says that opening a can of tuna reserved for human consumption will turn Boris into a meowing foghorn. "Tuna! Want! Tuna! Want! Tuna! Want! Tuna! Want!" big laugh Mom does not give in to demands, and besides Boris gets enough fishy food to begin with, but still. You'd think he's in some sort of distress if you weren't in the room with him.

So yes, I expect that Mittens will be like "ooh! Nice food! I want more of that food, ok? Thank you? Please? Pleeeeeaaase?" for the next few hours afterward. laugh out loud
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Amber

I didn't do it!
 
 
Purred: Sat Jul 25, '09 8:18pm PST 
I would definately try TOTW, I have heard of it working wonders for picky eaters.


Just out of curiosity, does either cat have health issues that would make fasting dangerous? Because if not, have you tried the tough love routine? A healthy cat won't starve itself and Amber learned very quickly that if you don't eat what I give you this meal, I pick it up in 15 minutes and you get the exact same thing next time.
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