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Switching Cat Food: Four Tips for Success

Many of us want or need to change the food our cats eat. With this guidance, you can make the transition painless.

 |  Jul 5th 2012  |   4 Contributions


Cat food is a huge factor in a cat's ongoing wellness. Although many cats do well eating the same food their entire lives, you might eventually need to change your cat's diet. Whether you're switching to a different brand for nutritional or ethical reasons, because the diet you've been feeding has been the subject of a recall, or because your cat needs a prescription diet, if you're prepared, the transition can be painless.

Cat eating canned food by Shutterstock

1. Take It Slow

If you're lucky, your cat will be delighted to gobble up anything you put in front of him. But some cats are just plain stubborn. If your cat is one of the stubborn ones, try a gradual introduction of the new food.

Make sure you still have about two weeks' supply of the old food. Start by mixing 25 percent of the new food into 75 percent of the old food. Feed this blend for three to five days. After that, mix the foods 50-50 and feed that for the next three to five days. Then feed 75 percent of the new food and 25 percent of the old food for the next five days. At that point you should be ready to feed the new food exclusively.

If at any time during this transition your cat refuses to eat the new diet, back off to the previous step. If he won't eat 25 percent of the new food, try 10 percent of the new food in 90 percent of the old. The important thing is to proceed in increments and allow a few days to adjust with each step.

2. Enhance the Flavor

Some cats find prescription foods unpalatable. Others have been eating over-flavored foods for so long that the new brand could seem bland by comparison. You can overcome this problem by sprinkling your cat's new food with a tasty and nutritious garnish like bonito flakes.

Canned food can be warmed for about 5 seconds in the microwave -- in a microwave-safe bowl, of course. Heating the food increases the smell, and smell is an important appetite stimulant for cats.

If you have multiple cats, one cat may like the new food while another turns his nose up at it. If this happens, you'll need to feed the persnickety cat in a separate room until he's willing to eat the new food. Cats eating by Shutterstsock

3. Monitor Your Cat's Weight

Your cat might gain or lose weight on the new food. If his weight changes and he's not on a new diet specifically for weight loss or gain, adjust the amount of food you're feeding. The suggested serving guidelines on cat foods are just that -- suggestions. Your cat's actual food needs will vary based on his activity level, age, and general health.

4. Work With Your Veterinarian

Be sure to keep in touch with your vet, particularly if you're changing your cat's diet due to health issues. If you're having trouble with the transition, your veterinarian might have more advice on how to get your cat to eat his new food.

Have you ever had trouble changing your cat's diet? Let us know in the comments!

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