Hey, are you changing my food?

(Related: Hey, what’s that in my food dish??, Kitty Allergies – Food)

Changing your cat’s food can be a tricky business, as it may cause him to develop the runs. But there is a method to the madness:

How should I switch my cat from one food to another?
Normal bacteria in the intestine help your cat digest her food. A sudden change in food can result in changes to the number and type of bacteria and their ability to help digest food. These changes can lead to intestinal upset. Therefore, a pet needs to be switched to a new food slowly. By ‘slowly’ we mean gradually over the course of 7-10 days. For example, make a mixture that contains 25% of the new food and 75% of the old food and feed that for several days. Then make it 50-50 for several days, then 75% new food to 25% old food for several days. Then you can start feeding 100% new food. If at any time your cat starts vomiting, has loose stools, or appears constipated, slow the rate at which you are switching the food.

You may also find your cat turning up his/her nose at the new food. Sometimes it’s really a matter of getting them used to the idea that the new kibble is what they’re going to have to eat. This is especially true if you are trying to wean them off an inferior food and get them onto a better one.

For eg, Felidae. It is not a bad food, it’s just not that great either. It’s the equivalent of humans eating only rice. But at least it’s not by-product filled saltiness, and it is economical. So it’s a viable option for homeless cat feeders who have budget constraints and are trying to stop using the suprmarket brands aka Friskas/Whiskas/Purina etc. However, feeders have problems switching cats over to it because its main ingredient is lamb, and the smell seems to put off cats.

I have also heard of feeders who used to feed the poorer brands facing problems switching their cats to better brands. Eg Friskies/Whiskas to Avoderm. This is because the inferior brands mask their inferiority with taste enhancers. The better brands do not, and since cats have very sensitive senses of smell and taste, it takes A LOT to convince them to change. Just like a person who’s been living by MSG and salt for taste, he’d very skeptical of non-MSG and non-salty food. It takes time and patience.

Our vet once said, healthy cats won’t knowingly starve themselves to death. I think he’s right. Sometimes a bit of tough love is needed to convince your cats to change to the better food.

As a point of reference, I know someone who rescues cats and she provides a wide range of kibble choices at every meal. A veritable buffet spread. But since she added NB to the spread, the cats would choose NB over everything else, every time.

(Created: 8 Dec 06. Updated: 15 Apr 07)


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