Tips on switching your cat's food... without them noticing!
Cats are known for being creatures of habits – and this is particularly true when it comes to food. If you have ever tried to introduce a new dish at mealtimes, only to see your kitty turn their nose up at it, you are certainly not alone!
Of course, there are many health benefits to having a varied diet. Meat and fish offer different nutrients, and some products have been enriched with vitamins and minerals. We are also much more conscious about the quality of ingredients in pet food, which is why some pet owners decide to switch to a premium or speciality range, or one with a high named meat content.
The type of food you choose also depends on the age of your cat. A fast-growing kitten with boundless energy, has different nutritional requirements to an adult or senior cat, which means different transitions throughout their lifetime.
An allergy or intolerance is another reason for changing your cat’s usual food, for example, grain can be used as a filler in pet food but some cats are unable to digest wheat-gluten. As a result, they can suffer a reaction to certain food, including weight loss and stomach problems.
So how do you switch your cat’s food, without them rejecting it?
If your cat has been diagnosed with food intolerances, it is important to speak to your vet about what course of action you need to take. They will be able to advise you on how soon you need to change the food and what you can do to maximize the chance of them accepting it.
For those of you who simply want to try something different, the key to a successful transition is to do it slowly. Your cat’s taste is, of course, an important factor however sudden changes can also lead to stomach upsets and discomfort. This is because their guts are filled with bacteria and it takes a while for them to be able to digest something new.
It normally takes a week to switch your cat to a different food – however don’t worry if it’s a little longer. Start by adding a quarter of the new food to their usual variety and increase it by 25 per cent over the course of a week, taking note of whether they leave anything behind. If they have cleared the bowl you can continue adjusting the ratio, gradually reducing the old food until they are completely happy with the new one.
Try not to worry too much if your cat takes a while to get used to their new food. You might get stuck on half-old, half-new for several days but try not remain patient. During the course of the transition, monitor your cat’s food intake and look out for any unusual behaviour or digestion problems.
11 October 2016
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