Most cats love a routine, whether it’s for bedtime, snack time or lounge time in the sun by that bay window (you know the one). But sometimes that routine needs to change, especially when it comes to food. So here are a few tips for helping that transition, whether your cat is a brand-new foster or the old-man tabby you’ve had for years.
Your cat might be a little fussy when you introduce a new food (after all, they are creatures of habit). Instead of trying to make the switch all at once, transition to the new food slowly, over a week or two, and try combining the dry and wet food at each meal.
For the first two days, use three parts dry food to one part wet food; the next two days, half dry food and half wet food; the next two days, three parts wet food to one part dry food; and then by the seventh day, only wet food.
The best part about this method is that it can apply to most food changes, whether that’s a dietary change for allergies, graduating from kitten to adult food or introducing a prescription diet for things like joint or skin health. As long as you’re patient, and pay attention to how your pet responds to the new food, you’ll be in good shape.
Plenty of people fill their cat’s bowl with enough food for the whole day because of schedules or just because they don’t know when their cat likes to eat. But that free-feeding approach can also lead to some unhealthy weight gain.
Instead of leaving out a big bowl of food, try feeding your cat twice a day (morning and night). The key here is to pour the food, leave it out for 30-ish minutes, and then take the bowl away. From there, it’s your job to make sure those feeding times are consistent, and in the same place, to help lock in the new routine.
It’s also worth looking into a good automatic feeder to help establish a feeding schedule even if your own schedule is unpredictable.
Even before you’ve switched to a new food, it’s a good idea to know how much food your pet needs throughout the day. Don’t use your cat’s appetite to judge how much food you should put out.
If you aren’t sure where to start, always consult the recommended amount on your pet food bag. As long as you aren’t seeing a lot of weight gain or weight loss (which could mean a trip to the vet is needed), you can change what you put in the bowl.
Sure, a change in eating habits can be a little daunting at first. But with patience, practice and plenty of encouragement, your cat will be able to make that transition in no time!
Written by Max Plenke. Max is an editor at The Dodo. He’s Minnesotan and loud, the irony of which he understands. He has yelled “baby pit bull outside!” to his fiancé many times.