Switching cat foods can be challenging. Cats should gradually transition to a new food to avoid stomach upset and increase the chances they will accept the new food.
Begin by mixing the current food with the new food. Gradually decrease the amount of the current food while increasing the amount of new. Continue to do this over a 7-day period. For finicky or older cats, the transition could take longer. Transitioning slowly can result in fewer digestive issues and better acceptance of the new cat food.
Some cats will eat around the new food and leave it in the bowl. Cats like routine and generally don’t appreciate change, especially when it comes to their food. Unlike dogs, cats get used to not only the taste of their food, but also the smell, shape and texture. All of those changes at once can upset some cats. For those pets, try adding just one kibble a day of the new food and one less of the old. The cat will probably not eat it at first, but it will gradually become accustomed to the smell, eventually the cat will take a bite or two. Even if it continues to avoid the new food, over time the cat will get used to it being there and won’t think anything of it. Switching foods one kibble at a time may seem extreme but many cats need to be on a prescription diet from their veterinarian, in these cases their health is worth the effort.
If moist food has been in the refrigerator, warm it before feeding. Stir thoroughly to distribute “hot spots” that occur during warming. If it’s too warm to touch, it’s too warm to feed. Offer it on a flat dish or saucer so your cat’s whiskers don’t brush against the side of the dish.
In some cases, such as acute gastrointestinal issues, your veterinarian may not recommend a transition and want you to immediately start feeding the new cat food. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations. If you’re having trouble, contact them for advice.
If your veterinarian has recommended a prescription cat food for a specific health condition, discuss transitioning the cat food in detail. There could be some special considerations and she may have additional suggestions to help you and your cat.
Prescriptions foods have unique qualities and feeding requirements. If you prefer to feed a specific form of cat food (canned, dry or both), let your veterinarian know so they can recommend a food that complements and addresses your cat’s condition. Adding ANY additional foods or treats will greatly decrease the benefit of the prescribed food and compromise your cat’s health.
Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s directions and ask questions. They are there to help you and your pets be happy and healthy.