Changing your cat’s food? It’s all about a slow transition

Cats can be fussy at the best of times, so it isn’t uncommon that you may need to change their food periodically. Of course, there are many other reasons a change in diet may be required, including:

  • You’ve been researching various diets or have spoken to your vet and have decided to change your cat’s food
  • Your cat’s food has become unavailable for some reason
  • Your cat is moving out of a key life-stage and into another (e.g. kitten to adult, adult to senior). Each one of these life-stages has unique nutritional requirements
  • An illness or condition which needs added nutritional support that your vet has recommended
  • You may be wanting to mix it up a little and have decided to add wet food to a dry diet
  • Your cat is pregnant or lactating. A pregnant or lactating cat requires more energy and may require a new diet that is better suited to meet this demand.

Irrespective of the reason for the diet change, introducing your cat to a new diet should be done slowly to avoid potential digestive upsets such as vomiting, diarrhoea, soft stools or abdominal discomfort.

The Transition- Keep It Slow

Once you’ve decided to make the switch, the key is to ensure a slow transition. The general rule of thumb is that the transition period should be at least 7 days. If your cat is prone to digestive upsets or inherently fussy, you may want to extend this period out longer to 10-14 days.

Follow the simple 7-day transition guide below to help ease your cat onto their new diet. 

During the transition period remember to:

  • Stick to your cat’s regular feeding routine
  • Ensure your cat is fed in the same place (low traffic, quiet areas are ideal) using the same bowl
  • Always wash their bowl after use
  • Keep all dry food in an airtight container and in a cool, dry place
  • Keep all opened and unused canned wet food covered and in a refrigerator
  • If you are feeding a portion of wet food that has been refrigerated, gently heating it or allowing it to come to room temperature can make it more appealing
  • Ensure fresh water is always available.

You should always monitor your cat during their transition period for changes in stool consistency, vomiting, inappetence, weight-loss, excess weight gain, etc. If you have any concerns about your cat’s health during the transition period, reach out to your vet for advice.

After A Successful Transition- Additional Tips

  • No two foods are alike! Feeding guidelines on the packaging indicate the amount to feed your cat each day.
  • Distribute the total feeding amount into multiple meals throughout the day
  • Remember that treats are a sometimes food! Treats should not make up more than 10% of your cat’s total daily calories
  • Use an appropriate weighing scale and/or a specific measuring cup and always ensure that you measure food very carefully! A small measuring variation when feeding your cat can significantly increase their calorie intake
  • It is recommended to regularly track your cat’s weight to help prevent obesity, especially if there are variations in activity levels (e.g. sleeping more in colder months)
  • If you store dry food in an airtight container, remember to wash the container out with warm soapy water and allow it to dry before transferring a new bag of food into it
  • If your cat was placed on a new diet for health reasons, you should ideally schedule a check-up with their vet to monitor their progress and to assess if their new diet is managing their health condition
  • If feeding a therapeutic diet, it’s important to ensure that you avoid mixing it with other food. Mixing regular and therapeutic diets will likely decrease the efficacy of the therapeutic diet. If you are wanting to mix feed (i.e. wet and dry food), speak to your vet for an appropriate recommendation
  • Ensure you feed a reputable brand of food that has high quality and food safety practices in place and formulate complete and balanced diets
  • If you have any concerns regarding the quality or food safety of a product, contact the manufacturer to discuss these concerns.