There are a host of reasons why you may need to move your cat onto a new food. Nutritional requirements alter as cats get older; a medical condition might require a special diet; or you may acquire a new pet and want to move from their previous diet onto a new one.
Cats can often be sensitive to changes in their diet, and older cats can get very used to a certain food and be reluctant to try a new diet. A slow transition process will help your cat to accept and more easily digest the new diet.
- If your cat has been ill or diagnosed with a medical condition and is changing to a veterinary recommended diet, the time to make the transition is when they are feeling better and recovering, rather than when they feel unwell. If they feel nauseous, for example, they will be reluctant to try new foods and may go completely off the new diet as they associate it with feeling sick (food aversion).
- When you are ready to introduce a new food, you can start by mixing a little with your usual brand, then gradually increasing the proportion over one week to ten days, until your cat is only eating the new food. However, some cats do not like flavours/textures to be mixed together and will be reluctant to eat. Therefore you may need to offer both foods side by side to encourage the cat to try the new diet.
Changing from canned food to dry
If you switch from wet to dry food, your cat will chew more actively and will certainly require more water, and may visit the food bowl sporadically, rather than eating it all in one sitting. Dry foods can contain more energy than wet food so you will not need to feed as much food volume-wise.
Changing from dry food to canned
If switching from dry to wet, expect him/her to drink a little less and eat more per meal in less time. As dry foods are in general more energy-dense than wet foods, your cat may need to eat proportionally more wet food to gain the same calories.
You may need to add a few dry biscuits to the wet food to provide some crunch for cats used to eating dry food.
Changing from kitten to adult formulas
- Move kittens to an adult formula at approximately 12 months depending on manufacturer’s guidelines and breed.
- Don't be tempted to change too soon.
Changing from adult to senior
Cats of seven to ten years and older may be fed a specially formulated senior food, designed to provide the optimum balance of key nutrients.
If your cat refuses to eat the new diet, contact your vet. There may be a medical reason for this, and he/she may be able to advise you on alternative formulations.