Cats are interesting pets that are very much creatures of habit. They tend to be set in their ways and do not like change. They like routines and continuity in their lives. This is why it is very important to exercise care when changing their food. There are a variety of reasons why a cat’s food would need to be changed such as a health issue when a vet adds special food for a health condition. One of my cats had kidney issues so I had to change to a kidney formula dry food only available from her vet. Another reason could be for healthier ingredients or to provide age appropriate food. As cats age their food needs to adjust as well. They start out with kitten food, then adult cat food and finally to senior cat food, which is easier to digest.
The first decision to make is which type of food will need to be changed either wet food, dry food or both. I found it easier to change wet food than dry because it looks similar and I just changed it overnight. I’ve had to switch out food for my cats at different times. When my first cat Buffy and second cat Axl switched from kitten to adult food it needed to be a subtle change. Cats go from kitten to adulthood starting at 9 months old.
The best way to coordinate this change is to do it slowly over about a 2 week time period. It’s also advisable to stick to the same brand as it makes the change easier. For example if your cat is currently eating Kitten Chow then it’s advisable to change to Cat Chow. When my cats both approached 9 months I started adding a small amount of adult dry cat food to their existing bowl of dry kitten food. They were both getting a cup of dry kitten food a day and more if needed, so I added and 1/8 of a cup of dry food for 2 days. Each time I added adult cat food I mixed it up too. Also, try to be nonchalant when adding food because if they see a different bag they might think something is up and won’t eat. Buffy was easier to change the food but Axl was a bit harder as he tends to be a pickier eater still to this day. I remember him picking out the adult food and spitting it onto the floor.
Every cat is different and some are more sensitive to change and Axl took a bit longer to adjust. Axl is still very sensitive to any change and it takes him longer to adapt to anything new. After 2 days I started to decrease the kitten food and added ¼ cup of adult dry food. Buffy adjusted great but Axl took a bit more time and kind of ate around the adult cat food. It’s also important to praise your cat and reward the good behavior with a cat treat. I waited 3 more days then did a 50/50 combo of kitten and adult food. Axl was starting to get used to the new food and wasn’t spitting out as much. He’s such a funny cat and makes the funniest face when he doesn’t like something. Then a few days later the food was mostly adult cat food with and 80/20 mixture. Then I completely removed the kitten food and both just switched to adult cat food.
I find this is the best way to change to a new food. This method can be used for any food change. It also works for children transferring from baby to adult food. I did this with my 2 year old son last year. As previously mentioned if you have a fussy cat it may take a little longer but always remember to have patience and it will all work out.
Laura Harrington is a married stay at home mom to a 2 year old toddler and 2 cats. She has an associates in Fashion Merchandising from FIT in NYC and resides in Connecticut.