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I want to change my cat’s diet. What’s the best way to do this?

Changes in diet can be stressful for your cat and can lead to digestive upsets and food refusals.

Cats can have very strong individual preferences for diet and transition to a new one can sometimes be quite challenging.  A number of considerations might help support a successful diet transition.

Consider any dietary preferences:
•    Is a wet or a dry food preferred, or a combination of both? 
•    If your cat prefers wet food, do they prefer chunks in a gravy or jelly, or a mousse?
•    Do they have any flavour preferences?

Introduce the diet in a non-stressful environment:
•    Try to find a quiet area at home, away from other pets, loud noises, or any litter trays. 
•    Ensure your cat has their own food bowl (cats don’t usually like to share!)
•    If your cat has come home from the veterinary practice with a new diet, depending on the condition the diet is being recommended for, it may be better to give time for         him/her to fully settle before introducing.
•    Consider using feline pheromones, which may help reduce stress and make cats feel more secure.
•    Don’t stand over your cat – most cats prefer time and space to accept their new food.

Consider diet introduction in a new bowl (next to a bowl with the old food):
•    The amount of old food should gradually be reduced and amount of new food increased over 7-10 days.
•    Most cats prefer two separate food bowls, rather than mixing of the food.
•    Sometimes, the transition can take much longer than 7-10 days so don’t become disheartened. Some cats may take a month or longer to accept a new food

Ensure your cat does not seem nauseous (for example, going to the food bowl then turning away). If you are concerned about nausea, speak to your vet. 

Avoid food aversions by administering any medications in a different, highly palatable food, at a separate time to the cat’s main meal.

Serving considerations:
•    Serve food at room temperature or above. 
•    If only part of a pouch or can is given at a meal, ensure it is stored in the fridge and disposed of after 24 hours if not used. Bring it up to room temperature before                 serving: cats generally don’t like chilled foods.
•    If feeding wet food, gentle heating to increase the aroma may help.

Ensure food is always fresh, particularly wet food: 
•    Dispose of wet food not eaten after 30 minutes and try again later in the day.

Consider location and height of food bowls:
•    Locate food bowls away from water bowls or litter trays.
•    If your cat suffers from conditions such as osteoarthritis, slight elevation of the food bowl off the floor might increase comfort when eating.

Palatability enhancers may also be helpful e.g. PRO PLAN® Fortiflora (a probiotic supplement which many cats also find highly palatable).