At some point in your cat’s life, you will need to change the food you feed your kitty. There are many different reasons for a paw parent to change his or her cat’s diet, including age, cat food sensitivities, medical issues, and overall wellness factors. Here are some common reasons to consider changing your cat's meal plan.
A cat’s nutritional needs evolve as she ages. Take calcium as an example. Kittens need a lot more of this nutrient than adult or senior cats. Kittens need it to support the growth and development of their bones and teeth. Fortunately, there is plenty of commercial cat food out there for each life stage. A kitten formula like this Wellness Complete Health Pate (KITTEN) Whitefish & Tuna Wet Cat Food will have enough protein, fat, carbohydrates and calories to satisfy the active growing youngster.
Adult and senior cat food are usually lower in calories compared to kitten cat food but are protein-rich to maintain muscle mass in older cats. A good adult and senior cat food to consider is Stella & Chewy's Carnivore Cravings (Duck & Chicken) in Broth Wet Cat Food. This wet cat food is rich in muscle meat (protein) and contains a balanced blend of nutrients for heart & vision health. Some adult and senior cat foods have added glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints. Achy joints, hearing loss, and deteriorating vision are all common signs of aging and senior cat food is formulated with the necessary nutrients to support healthy aging.
Due to the different nutritional requirements, as our cat progress from one life stage to another, we will need to switch their diet accordingly to ensure that they get the proper nutritional support for their age.
Cat food sensitivities or allergies
Like us, our cats can develop sensitivities or allergies to certain food ingredients. Common symptoms of food sensitivities include digestive troubles or itchy skin. If you suspect this to be the issue with your kitty, make an appointment to see your vet. Your vet should be able to help identify the allergenic ingredients that kitty is reacting to.
A diet switch is necessary when it comes to food sensitivities or allergies. The vet may recommend trying cat food made with novel proteins; proteins that kitty has never eaten before and avoiding the ingredients that your cat is sensitive to. A single-protein, grain-free diet like this Absolute Holistic Broth Chunks (Tuna Thick Cuts & Turmeric) Wet Cat & Dog Food is often recommended for cats suffering from food sensitivities or allergies. Single-protein cat food is a food in which there is only one source of animal protein. This Absolute Holistic Broth Chunks (Tuna Thick Cuts & Turmeric) Wet Cat & Dog Food contains only tuna and no other meats or seafood are added. This helps to prevent exposure to offending proteins and can be useful in food trials when trying to identify the best (and worst) protein for your cat.
Certain diseased conditions will require a diet change. For example, cats with kidney disease benefit from food with high-quality protein but lower levels of phosphorus. Often, cats with chronic health issues have little choice but to switch to cat food that supports their conditions. Depending on a cat’s condition, the veterinarian may recommend switching to a prescription diet.
A cat is considered overweight when she weighs ten to twenty percent more than her ideal body weight. The cat is obese when excess fat is more than twenty percent above her ideal body weight. It is believed that up to sixty-three percent of cats in developed countries are overweight.
Your cat’s weight can affect her overall wellness and this is true for both overweight and underweight cats. For overweight pets, the veterinarian may recommend switching to weight-management cat food that is specially formulated to help the cat shed those extra pounds. Weight management cat foods are widely available commercially. These cat foods are designed to be lower in fat and calories. Often, they are grain-free too.
The ORIJEN Fit & Trim Dry Cat Food is formulated to keep your cat lean and healthy. It’s a protein-rich, grain-free kibble designed for overweight adult cats. For underweight cats, before attempting to switch to different cat food, try increasing the amount of feed. If that doesn’t help your cat to gain some weight, a diet change may be necessary. It is important to have your veterinarian evaluate your cat if she has an issue with her weight. Excessive weight gain or loss can be caused by other health issues like cat diabetes and hormonal imbalances.
Our indoor feline kids do have a higher tendency to put on weight as opposed to their outdoor counterparts. Lack of physical activities (exercise) and overfeeding are common causes of weight gain. It is important to note that every cat, just like us, has different genetic makeup and metabolism. While some cats can afford more food, others may gain weight easily. Do discuss with your vet if you noticed your feline baby struggling with her weight. A diet change to a lower-fat, lower-calorie indoor cat food formula may be necessary. Here’s a low-fat, reduced-calorie formula for indoor cats - FirstMate Indoor Cat Formula Grain-Friendly Dry Cat Food.
How to switch your cat’s food?
An abrupt change in foods can cause your cat to have an upset stomach, so it’s best to change your pet’s diet gradually. If your cat has a medical concern or food sensitivity, please consult with your veterinarian before making the diet switch.
Transition your cat to a new diet by substituting a little of the new food for the old in your pet’s usual meal. Swap out a little more at the next feeding, and so on, for at least seven days.
Days 1 to 2: Feed 3/4 of the normal amount of current food and add 1/4 of the new food.
Days 3 to 4: Serve half the current food and half the new food.
Days 5 to 7: Feed 3/4 of the new food and 1/4 of the previous food.
Days 8 to 10: Serve only the new food.
No matter the reason, switching cat food can be a delicate balance. If you notice your cat having gastrointestinal symptoms (soft stools or vomiting) during the transition, go back one day in the transition schedule. You know your cat best. If your kitty often struggles with tummy upset, feel free to take longer than seven days with the transition. For cats with a diagnosed medical condition or food sensitivities, please consult with your veterinarian before making a diet change.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.