A cat eating a meal from a bowl

How to change diets (without getting angry looks)

Helping your cat lose some excess weight may seem as easy as switching over to a different food or giving smaller portions, but cats aren’t exactly known for their fondness of new things. So what is the best way to do it? Today we will share some of our tricks to encourage your cat towards a new diet.

Diet changes

Four types of catfood from the brand Purina
PurinaOne offers a tailored food for every stage of life: kitten, adult and senior

Obesity is one of the more obvious reasons to introduce your cat to a new diet, but there are many others. As cats age, their levels of activity will change. Most food brands sell foods that are tailored to each phase of a cat’s life.

There are also a number of medical conditions that require a specific diet change. For example, a pregnant kitty needs an energy-dense meal that contains extra calcium, while a senior with renal problems may need to eat wet food for the added moisture.

Or what if you just want to change your cats’ eating habits because you found a healthier food in the store?

Why your cat may resist new food

Whatever the reason, your pet will likely need some encouragement. Old habits die hard as they say, and that’s certainly the case with cats. They really wouldn’t mind eating the same old meal every day for their entire lives if you let them.

In fact, their bowels adapt to their diet over time, so any radical change may upset the stomach and possibly cause unwanted side effects diarrhea. Even changing to a different food within same brand can be enough to upset your kitty.

1. Creating a gradual transition

Whenever you plan to introduce a different diet, do so over a period at least one week, preferably longer. Start by mixing just a little bit of the new food into the old one, about 75% old food and 25% new. Then mix this up well and serve.

Now what you want to do is slightly increase the proportion of new food in the meal every day over a period of 7 to 14 days. Doing so should give your cat’s body enough time to adjust to the new food without unwanted side effects.

If you notice your cat still becoming withdrawn or nauseous, you can slow down for a few days.

A chart that details how the ratio between old and new food can be changed over two weeks
This is what a transition chart for a period of 2 weeks could look like

2. Switching to wet food with cat soup

One of the tricks we picked up over the years is making what we call “cat soup”. Add some wet food and a bit of lukewarm water to the usual dry kibble and blend it to a smooth consistency. If you slowly increase the amount of liquid in the food over a period of one to two weeks, your cat will have a much easier time getting used to the consistency of wet foods.

Just remember not to leave your home-made cat soup out of the fridge for anything more than a couple of hours (dry foods will spoil a lot faster once you’ve added water to them).

3. Work up an appetite

A kitten playing with a feather on a string, hanging from a rod
There’ s a good chance this kitten will be hungry after play time

Have you ever noticed how your appetite picks up right after exercise? The same goes for cats. So if you’re smart, you’ll play with your kitty for a good 30 minutes or so, right before you introduce the new meal to her.

Alternatively, you could also just leave the bowl empty a few hours longer than usual. Everything tastes better when you’re really hungry!

4. Some subtle encouragement

Sometimes a little gentle encouragement is just enough to get the ball rolling. Try giving your cat a good cuddle, then take a bit of the food in your hand and offer it.

You can also say something in a sweet tone of voice as you reach out (Just make sure no one can hear you talk to your cat, or you might become known as the neighbourhood crazy person 😉 )

5. Extra tips

Some other things you can do to entice your pet:

  • Sprinkle something extra tasty over the meal, like some tuna meat or the liquid from the can
  • All cats love fish! So if you can afford it, why not add an irresistible flavor by mixing some of salmon flavored food or treats through the regular food
  • Provide a quiet eating area where people (and other cats) can’t distract
  • Mind your body language. It is best to introduce new food with an encouraging attitude
  • If all else fails, the vet should be able to supply you with a medicine that boosts appetite
  • Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments!!

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