Why Changing Your Cat’s Food is Risky
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UPDATED: Jun 10, 2021
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This has happened to too many cat parents. They’re browsing through the cat food aisle when they see a brand new food.
Checking the ingredient list and seeing the picture of a well-fed, happy cat on the label convinces them to buy a few cans (or a bag, if it’s dry) of the new food.
Anticipating a cat who’s eager to try the new food, they go home and put the new food in the cabinet.
At the next meal, their cat may eat the food well enough, a few hours later, when you clean out the litter box, you realize he had diarrhea. Or he vomited. Why? He’s not sick, is he?
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Why Your Kitty Got Sick With That New Cat Food
Kittens and cats have sensitive tummies. Even though you’re doing everything you can (without going overboard) to be a good cat parent, you may not be aware that your feline has a sensitive stomach.
So, when you try that new food, you may be feeling pretty good—until your kitty starts feeling yucky.
When it’s necessary to change brands, try to have a few cans of the old brand on hand at home so you can help him change over s-l-o-w-l-y.
Cats are creatures of habit. They mentally imprint the foods they enjoy eating because this is, quite literally, a survival tactic.
When they encounter one brand of tuna and ocean fish, then you find a new brand, you may think, “Whatever, it’s the same thing.”
On the surface, yes. If you didn’t carefully read the ingredient lists for both brands, you might not realize that the new food has a slew of new ingredients that the old food doesn’t. Problem time!
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It’s Vital To Make The Change To A New Food Slowly
Maybe you’re changing from canned to dry food (more on that soon) or from dry to canned.
Because of your kitty’s potentially sensitive tummy, you need to make that changeover cautiously and slowly.
Give him almost as much as you do of the canned food and only a little dry.
Over two or three weeks, slowly decrease the quantity of canned food and increase the quantity of dry that you feed him.
If you’re changing from dry to wet food, take the same steps.
Now, let’s talk about an all-dry food diet. Cats aren’t great water drinkers. You need to supplement that little amount of water they sort of willingly drink—with canned food.
If you don’t do so, they are more vulnerable to developing urinary crystals, which is highly painful and so, so unnecessary.
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Make The Change Easy For Your Feline
Remember, you have time to make the switch from one brand or type of food to a new brand or type. Combine the old with the new. As you do so, keep an eye on his litter box and your floors to ensure he’s not getting sick.
Choose a sensitive-tummy formula. You’ll see these have lots of chicken and turkey. Look for egg, rice, wheat, and oat to ease stomach issues.
If a friend brings their cat’s rejected foods for your cat to eat, dear pet parent, kindly accept the food—then throw it away, because you don’t know what ingredients it has. Better safe than sorry!
If your cat or kitten’s tummy troubles persist, visit your vet for diagnostic testing. For help paying the bill, check out our review of the highest-rated (9.8/10) cat insurance provider, Healthy Paws.
5 Tips For Getting Your Cat To Eat New Or Prescribed Food
1) Mix new food into old food
First, try to introduce the prescription diet by slowly mixing the new food with the former cat food for five days unless your veterinarian advises otherwise.
Each day, add more of the new food and less of the original diet until your cat is eating the prescription diet exclusively.
You can even throw in some of your cat’s favorite food in little morsels to make it more palatable while switching.
2) Feed many small meals instead of one large one
Feed multiple small meals instead of one large one.
Divide your cat’s daily food portion over three small meals to gradually introduce the new diet and encourage the cat’s appetite.
If your schedule doesn’t permit this, at least transition the food over two meals.
3) Mix dry and canned food
Mix the dry and canned prescription cat foods.
Canned food often smells (and tastes) more appetizing to a cat than dry food.
Factor in your cat’s total calorie intake when you mix wet and dry food so that you do not overfeed him.
In other words, don’t use a whole can when mixing the food if that is the cat’s entire daily intake.
4) Follow the prescription diet as closely as possible
Follow your veterinarian’s instructions about the prescription diet.
Make sure to feed your kitty the correct amount of food for his or her weight and health condition.
If your cat is on a weight maintenance prescription, it is important only to feed him the recommended amount.
Reduce your cat’s food quantity to the prescribed amount gradually so that the cat’s appetite adjusts to the new amount of food.
5) Do not give your cat food outside the prescribed diet or food
Do not give your cat food outside of his prescribed diet. Other food may interact with the prescription or make it less effective.
The prescription diets are scientifically developed to manage specific feline health conditions and provide complete nutrition.
If all else fails, you can always ask your veterinarian for an alternative prescription cat food if he or she refuses to eat the new food after many attempts.
Or you can always go the holistic route and check to see if there is a natural food that addresses your cat’s condition.
It is never easy to transition your cat to a new or even prescribed food, but it can be done.
Be vigilant and clever in how you feed your kitty and hopefully the transition will be easier than you think!
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