Why Changing Your Cat’s Food is Risky

This has happened to too many cat parents: They’re browsing through the cat food aisle when they see a brand new food. Checking the ingredient list and seeing the picture of a well-fed, happy cat on the label convinces them to buy a few cans (or a bag, if it’s dry) of the new food. Anticipating a cat who’s eager to try the new food, they go home and put the new food in the cabinet. At the next meal, their cat may eat the food well enough. . . a few hours later, when you clean out the litter box, you realize he had diarrhea. Or he vomited. Why? He’s not sick. . . is he?

Why Your Kitty Got Sick with that New Cat Food

Kittens and cats have sensitive tummies. Even though you’re doing everything you can (without going overboard) to be a good cat parent, you may not be aware that your feline has a sensitive stomach. So, when you try that new food, you may be feeling pretty good—until your kitty starts feeling yucky. When it’s necessary to change brands, try to have a few cans of the old brand on hand at home so you can help him change over s-l-o-w-l-y.

Cats are creatures of habit. They mentally imprint the foods they enjoy eating because this is, quite literally, a survival tactic. When they encounter one brand of tuna and oceanfish, then you find a new brand, you may think, “It’s the same thing, really.” On the surface, yes. If you didn’t carefully read the ingredient lists for both brands, you may not realize that the new food has a slew of new ingredients that the old food doesn’t. Problem time!

It’s Vital to Make the Change to a New Food Slowly

Maybe you’re changing from canned to dry food (more on that soon) or from dry to canned. Because of your kitty’s potentially sensitive tummy, you need to make that changeover cautiously and slowly. Give him almost as much as you do of the canned food and only a little dry. Over the course of two or three weeks, slowly decrease the quantity of canned food and increase the quantity of dry that you feed him. If you’re changing from dry to wet food, take the same steps.

Now, let’s talk about an all-dry food diet. Cats aren’t great water drinkers. You need to supplement that little amount of water they sort of willingly drink—with canned food. If you don’t do so, they are more vulnerable to developing urinary crystals, which is highly painful and so, so unnecessary.

Making that Change Over Easy for Your Feline

Remember, you have time to make the switch from one brand or type of food to a new brand or type. Combine the old with the new. As you do so, keep an eye on his litter box and your floors to ensure he’s not getting sick.

Choose a sensitive-tummy formula. You’ll see these have lots of chicken and turkey. Look for egg, rice, wheat and oat to ease stomach issues.

If a friend brings their cat’s rejected foods for your cat to eat, dear pet parent, kindly accept the food—then throw it away, because you don’t know what ingredients it has. Better safe than sorry!

If your cat or kitten’s tummy troubles persist, visit your vet for diagnostic testing. For help paying the bill, check out our review the highest-rated (9.8/10) cat insurance provider Healthy Paws.

9 Comments
  1. Reply Fran 04/03/2016 at 4:21 pm

    Cats and dogs should have their food changed with care, just like humans they are sensitive if not used to certain food. This should be more widely advertised I agree.

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