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How to transition your cat to new food

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Cats are known for being selective about their food choices, which might lead pet owners to stick with one type of food for convenience. It can be quite the challenge to transition a fussy cat to a different diet, and many may prefer to avoid the hassle altogether.

It might seem like a hard task, but with careful planning and gradual adjustments, it can be a smooth and beneficial process for your feline friend. Whether you are switching to a different brand, type of food, or adjusting for health reasons, understanding the steps involved can ensure a successful transition while maintaining your cat’s health and happiness.

Understanding the Need for Change

Before considering a diet change for your cat, it is important to understand why you are making the switch. Common reasons include addressing health issues such as obesity, allergies, or digestive problems, or simply wanting to provide a higher quality or more balanced diet. Consulting with your veterinarian can help identify the specific needs of your cat and guide you in selecting the appropriate diet.

Gradual Transition

Abrupt changes in diet can upset your cat’s stomach and lead to digestive upset, refusal to eat, or even health complications.

“Opt for a gradual transition over the course of 7 to 10 days. Start by mixing a small amount of the new food with the current food, gradually increasing the proportion of the new food each day until your cat is solely eating the new diet,” said Dr. Elizabeth Seger in the “How to Change Your Cat’s Diet” published in the Animals at Work website.

Holly, a Save ALL rescue, can be selective about food. If your cat is selective about food or deals with health issues or allergies, the process of switching to a new food might take longer. Stay patient and keep a close eye on their transition progress.

Observation and Adjustment

Throughout the transition process, closely monitor your cat’s behavior, appetite, and litter box habits. Look out for any signs of digestive upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, or decreased appetite. If you notice any adverse reactions, slow down the transition process or consult with your veterinarian for guidance.

Choosing the Right Food

When selecting a new diet for your cat, consider factors such as age, weight, activity level, and any existing health conditions. Choose a high-quality cat food that is nutritionally balanced and meets the specific dietary needs of your cat. Whether you opt for dry kibble, wet food, or a combination of both, ensure that it provides essential nutrients such as protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals.


Cats are known for not drinking enough water which can lead to dehydration, especially when consuming dry kibble exclusively. If transitioning to a dry food diet, ensure that your cat has access to fresh water at all times. Try incorporating wet food into their diet to help increase their overall moisture intake and promote hydration.

Avoiding Food Distaste

Some cats can be picky eaters and may resist changes to their diet. To prevent food aversions, introduce new food gradually and offer a variety of flavors and textures.

“Patience is important, and it may take time for your cat to adjust to the new diet. Avoid free-feeding and establish a regular feeding schedule to encourage appetite and prevent selective eating,” Seger noted.

Supplementary Treats

While transitioning your cat to a new diet, limit the use of treats or table scraps that may interfere with the process. If necessary, go for small amounts of the new food as treats to encourage acceptance and positive associations.

Addressing Special Dietary Needs

For cats with specific dietary requirements due to health issues such as diabetes, kidney disease, or food allergies, consult with your veterinarian to develop a tailored feeding plan. Specialized prescription diets may be recommended to manage or alleviate symptoms associated with these conditions.

Long-Term Maintenance

Once your cat has successfully transitioned to the new diet, it is important to maintain consistency to prevent digestive upset and ensure optimal health. Stick to a regular feeding schedule and monitor your cat’s weight and overall condition. Periodically review their diet with your veterinarian to make any necessary adjustments based on their changing needs.

Changing your cat’s diet requires patience, careful planning, and attention to detail, but the benefits of providing a nutritionally balanced and tailored diet are well worth the effort. By following a gradual transition process, selecting the right food, and monitoring your cat’s response, you can ensure a smooth and successful transition that supports their health and well-being for years to come.

About the Author: Niko Gabriel Salgado is a graduate of consular and diplomatic affairs from De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, and worked at the House of Representatives. He is now an entrepreneur and a volunteer of the animal welfare group Save Animals of Love and Light- Save ALL.


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