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  1. cats nutrition

How to Change a Cat's Diet

Posted by Dr. Roth on March 17, 2022

Nutrition
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Feeding cats a high-quality, balanced diet is vital for their overall health and well-being. For some pet parents, there may come a time when a change in their cat’s diet is necessary for optimal wellness. 

Deciding when and how to change a cat’s diet isn’t always the easiest thing to do; a sudden change could cause some issues. With planning and patience, pet parents can be successful.

The Importance of a Balanced Diet for Cats

Like humans, cats require a balanced diet for optimal health. Proper cat nutrition provides cats with energy, promotes strong muscles, and helps maintain skin and coat health. Along with regular exercise, a nutritious, balanced diet can also help cats keep a healthy weight

Cat Health Advice: What Do Cats Need?

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need animal byproducts in their diets. No matter what food a pet parent feeds their cat, the first ingredient should be real meat. Meat provides protein and essential amino acids such as taurine. 

High-quality cat food should be high in protein and contain moderate amounts of healthy fats (for skin and coat health). They should also have some carbohydrates and trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. Like all living creatures, water is essential, too.

Reasons for Changing a Cat's Diet

Pet parents may need to change their cat’s diet for any one of many different reasons:

  • Poor quality food: Pet parents might learn that the food they’ve been feeding their cats isn’t as healthy as they thought. After getting cat advice from their vet, they may decide it’s time to switch. 

  • Age transition: As a cat goes from kitten to adult and adult to senior, their dietary needs change. 

  • Allergies: Cats can develop allergies to food ingredients, which can cause issues like itchiness and digestive problems. Switching to a food that doesn’t contain the allergen can help. 

  • Health issues: Kidney problems, diabetes, and obesity may require a diet change to help improve a cat’s overall health. 

  • Picky eating: Cats can be very picky eaters. That can lead to poor eating habits and poor nutrition. Changing their diet may help pique their interest and encourage them to eat more. 

Cat Health Advice: How to Change a Cat's Diet

A sudden change could result in digestive issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and general discomfort. Additionally, a cat may not take kindly to their new food, which could cause them to avoid it altogether. Refusal to eat can lead to nutrient deficiencies. 

A gradual transition can make the change easier:

  • Day 1: Feed all original food

  • Days 2 and 3: 80% original and 20% new food

  • Days 4 and 5: 60% original and 40% new food

  • Days 6 and 7: 40% original and 60% new food

  • Days 8 and 9: 20% original and 80% new food

  • Day 10: Feed 100% new food

During the transition, pet parents should monitor their cat for signs of potential issues like vomiting and diarrhea. 

Transition Cats to New Food Successfully

It’s not uncommon for cats to require a change in their diet. The key to success is making the transition gradually. By introducing a cat to their new food slowly, they’ll avoid potential issues and increase their chances of success.  

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