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How to transition a cat to new food

Your cat’s nutritional requirements will change as they transition through life stages. Growth, pregnancy, lactation, adulthood, seniority and even illness or trauma can alter a feline’s energy needs. Other reasons you may have to change your cat’s diet is if your cat stops eating their usual meal, their food brand is out of stock, you want to switch over from dry to wet food, introduce raw feeding or you simply want a superior nutritional quality diet.

Cats have particular nutritional needs. This includes high levels of protein (29 per cent), which makes them strict carnivores – eating a meat-based diet. Deficiencies in essential amino acids can result in health problems. Vegetarian diets are not suitable for cats since they don’t meet a cat’s dietary needs and might cause nutritional deficiencies, even illness.

It’s also best to feed felines little and often by dividing their daily food portion into five servings within a 24 hour period to mimic their natural feeding pattern. Modern pet food is very tasty and sold in small bite-sized biscuits which can lead to quick and excessive food intake.

Cats are known to be fussy eaters so it’s important to expose them to varied food flavours and textures as early as possible to avoid refusal of other diets, especially if nutritional change is required because of health problems or discontinuation of a selected product. To minimise development of your cat becoming a fussy eater, expose them to a minimum of two or three forms and varieties of premium foods.

Immediate diet change can give your cat an upset tummy, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, inappetence and even aversion, so it’s essential to modify your cat’s diet in an exceedingly gradual plus methodical manner.

Be sure to plan ahead and conduct research into various cat diets plus talk to your veterinarian to determine the foremost suitable food based on your feline’s life-stage, lifestyle and individual wellbeing needs.

Go slow, watch the litterbox and be patient during the transition. Remember to watch your cat’s behaviour to determine how they respond to the diet change. If your cat stops eating for 24 hours or becomes sick during the changeover, consult your vet or a cat nutritionist about your cat’s ongoing nutritional needs.

Switching from dry food to wet

It’s imperative to transition from a current diet to a new one gradually, over seven to 10 days.

Begin by placing a small amount of the new food next to the old food within the same plate. This introduces your kitty to the novel scent and texture – don’t worry if they don’t consume it straight away.

After a few days, blend a little

of the wet diet with the dry food,

gradually increasing the proportion

until the transition is complete.

  • Day 1-3: 75% dry food + 25% wet food

  • Day 3-5: 50% dry food + 50% wet food

  • Day 6-7 25% dry food + 75% wet food

  • Day 8-10: 100% wet food

If your cat is reluctant to accept the wet food, make the change more progressively by lengthening the transition period and increasing the quantity of wet food at smaller


For extra picky cats, break the dry food into small portions and top it or sprinkle it on the wet food. If your cat still hates it, try various choices of premium wet food, such as pate, morsels, gravy, etc.

Odour is especially important for cats, if the smell of the food isn’t appealing, they’re unlikely to eat their meal. Serving canned food at room temperature (take it out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to feeding) or warming their food may increase its scent and appeal. Research suggests the sensitivity of taste receptors works best when food is at a temperature of around 30° Celsius, which is also about the temperature of the cat’s tongue.

Switching from wet food to raw

Make sure you are only feeding wet food before introducing raw meals. Get rid of all the dry food from the house.

Ensure meat is frozen for a minimum of three days and at least a couple of weeks for pork and other wild meats. Defrost their meal within the fridge instead of on the counter to avoid bacterial contamination.

Always use human grade meats or preservative free pet-meat from a trustworthy supplier.

Start by placing existing wet food on a plate with a little raw food next to it. Don’t despair if they don’t eat any; initially they should get accustomed to the smell before ingesting it.

After a few days, mix a quarter of the raw food into the wet for a week or two, then increase the quantity to half. Gradually increase the quantity of raw food to three quarters of the

meal, and keep going until you have fully transitioned. Be patient and don’t give up, even if it takes months!

Once your cat is eating raw meals, introduce chunks if you are not already doing so for good dental health.

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