Switching without glitching—changing cat food is easier than you think
Cats can be dramatically neophobic when it comes to accepting dietary changes, and they can’t help it. The infamous fussiness is them being wary of “suspicious” new food, part of their ancestral survival instinct to avoid eating something poisonous in the wild. Changing cat food is an exercise in patience and tenacity. It may seem challenging at first, but with a strategic approach, your kitty can make a successful transition over time.
Most vets recommend phasing out old food gradually before replacing it with the new, but there are other crucial things you should know before changing your cat's diet. This guide will help you figure out:
- Whether or not it’s necessary to change the current cat food
- How to implement a diet/food change
- The risk factors associated with the transition
We will also discuss feline nutrition and check out what type of cat food can support longevity and health for cats.
Introducing new cat food—is it necessary?
Unlike humans, cats have the capacity to enjoy the same food (or set of activities) for life due to their brain anatomy. Humans have a developed neocortex that controls higher functions like the perception of achievements, the ability to think beyond the present moment, and the desire for change or growth. Cats lucked out from the evolutionary viewpoint as they have a relatively small neocortex, meaning they are not bothered with seeking changes in their meals or daily routine as long as their basic nutritional or engagement needs are met.
Your kitty may find comfort in familiarity and not complain about what you put on their plate, but it’s critical to switch their food under certain circumstances—let’s check them out.
Chaos precedes change, so how ’bout no? You know I hate changes. Would you like it if I changed you for another hooman?
Source: Yang Shuo
Cats are likely to be affected by several diseases as they grow older, most of which can be managed with a proper diet. These health conditions include:
- Kidney, heart, or liver disease
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Struvite crystals
- Dental disease or toothlessness
If your kitty’s current diet worsens these conditions, you need to find new food that supports their health.
Feline obesity is a major reason why cat parents consider switching food. The natural feline diet should offer over 50% proteins, about 20% fats, and no more than 3% carbohydrates. Cat food with fewer proteins and more fats and carbs will create a calorie surplus, making cats fat. Overweight kitties should be on a calorie deficit diet to get lean, which means switching to low-fat and low-carb food.
Cats need a high-calorie diet only if they are:
Felines technically don’t need meals customised to their life stage if they eat the right food in suitable portions. Cats in the wild get the essential nutrients from the same sources—such as bugs, birds, slugs, rodents, and raw meat—throughout life. Indoor cats should get similar nutrition from balanced wet food.
Many commercial cat food manufacturers advertise products customised for kittens, adults, and seniors by tweaking the protein and carbohydrate contents slightly. It’s mostly a marketing strategy, but if your kitty is on food specified for kittenhood or adulthood, you must change products when they become adults or get old.
Why does the menu look different for different kitties? All we asked for was soft, juicy meat.
Gastrointestinal issues and allergies
- Frequent diarrhoea
- Vomiting food (digested or undigested)
- Gagging after meals
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Poor appetite
- Abdominal pain (cats with stomach cramps have hunched postures)
Dry food often causes tummy troubles as it's harsh and highly processed, and switching to quality wet food can fix the issue. If your kitty’s current wet food causes digestive problems because it's too rich, try a light jelly formula.
Changing cat food becomes a necessity when you realise your kitty’s current food doesn't suit their carnivorous nature. Over the years, cat parents have become more aware of what goes into their pets’ food. Many manufacturers add cheap fillers and meat substitutes to their products, but these nutritionally inferior ingredients only help kitties get by, not flourish. As far as feline nutrition is concerned, changing from a filler-loaded product to a meat-dense one is a step in the right direction.
How to introduce new cat food
Be prepared to persevere while transitioning your kitty to new food. Some cats accept new meals at the first bite, while others require months to warm up to changes. It all depends on the quality and taste of the product you introduce and your feline’s survival instincts (or their general level of misanthropy).
Transition strategy usually depends on whether you are switching from:
- Kibbles to wet food
- One wet food to another
Time to rebel and play stone dead till my hooman brings back my good old food. It’s a battle of wits and willpower—who’s gonna crack first?
Turning biscuit junkies to wet food aficionados—a model plan
Kibble addiction is a real nuisance that makes kitties reject wet food. If a cat has only been on dry food all their life, their brain automatically marks the shape and smell of biscuits as safe. Since wet food is a big shift in taste and texture, they would need time to accept it.
The table below outlines a transition plan you can follow:
(Implementing the change)
(Phasing biscuits out)
The above phases can be stretched out according to your kitty’s individual progress.
Switching to a different wet food product
The transition is relatively simpler if your kitty is already on a regular wet food diet. Most kitties accept other wet meals with no fuss. If they don’t, make a gradual change.
Here’s a sample of a 10-day transition plan:
The ratio of old to new food
The wretched places I hide to ignore my stalker hooman pestering me to try new food! Can someone tell me how koalas do it out here all day?
Changing cat food—problems to watch out for!
Before implementing any transition plan, try to understand your kitty’s everyday eating habits and relationship with food. Once the plan is in motion, keep an eye out for the following hiccups:
- Gastrointestinal issues—The feline digestive system can act up if the transition is hasty. If your kitty gets sick after trying new food, stick to a super slow transition. Another reason for gastrointestinal issues could be the rich ingredients in the new product. Cat food with fatty protein sources like eggs, pork, milk, lamb, and bacon can easily cause stomach upsets
- Allergy—Symptoms of a food allergy include barfing, itchy skin, breathing problems, and excessive shedding, which can be triggered by new food. It’s common for kitties to be allergic to ingredients like beef, grains, or the starch extracted from rice and potatoes
- Inappetence—Don’t worry if your cat eats less after switching from dry to wet food. Cats often overeat biscuits at a rapid pace because the meal isn’t satisfying. Once they shift to high-protein wet meals, they’ll feel full with smaller portions and won’t desire the same amount of food as before. If your kitty doesn’t eat at all or loses weight and becomes lethargic, it’s better to reach out to your vet
Dealing with rejection and the risks of switching cat food too quickly
Kitties rejecting diet changes is a common case, so don’t be disheartened if that happens. Transitioning to a new cat food can take as long as six months, but many cat parents give up after a few tries. The truth is, changing cat food requires monitoring your kitty’s mental state throughout the switch and responding to it accordingly. Say they like a new food one day and reject it the next day—don’t lose hope!
Put the transition on hold, give them their old food temporarily, and start feeding new food again after a day or two. Be consistent and determined in your approach, but don’t stress about it too much, as cats can sense your agitation and become anxious themselves.
If a healthy product doesn’t work out, don’t hop to another one out of desperation. Changing products too quickly will only shock your kitty’s system and trigger stomach sensitivity and diarrhoea.
The switch hitch—are you swapping one pain for another?
Since switching cat food is a cumbersome process, it’s important you pick the right product from the get-go. Good cat food should be:
- Protein-dense—Choose cat food with proteins from lean taurine-rich meat like tuna, chicken, turkey, and salmon. Proteins from subpar sources like dairy, plants, and meat derivatives aren’t great for your kitty’s health in the long run, often leading to hairballs and slow metabolism
- Low in carbs—Cats who consume high-carb products are at the risk of becoming obese and developing feline diabetes. If your cat has been on such an unhealthy diet, switching food is a neat opportunity to get them on low-carb meals
- Filler-free—Fillers like sweetcorn, vegetables, and cellulose fibre add to the volume of cat food without contributing much to its nutritional value
- Without chemical additives—Artificial taste enhancers and harsh chemical preservatives in cat food can be stomach irritants
Switching your kitty to poor-quality cat food beats the whole purpose of the change. They won't benefit from it, and it can even trigger various health problems down the line.
Hold on! What’s this beguiling scent? Maybe change isn’t so bad after all.
Image (c) Untamed
Change cat food without stressing—hit the bull’s-eye with Untamed!
If you need to change cat food, do it right the first time by choosing Untamed. We offer gravy and jelly food with human-grade whole meat and natural ingredients. Our products are highly digestible and easy on the tummy, minimising the risk of gastrointestinal issues during the transition.
Untamed meals are formulated to provide wholesome nutrition to all cats. Our products are:
- High-protein—Our meals are 60–63% whole meat, almost two times more than what your average retail cat food offers. We keep it real by ditching fillers like grains, sugar, plant proteins, and meat derivatives
- Nutritionally balanced—All Untamed recipes are formulated by vets to ensure your kitty gets the correct amounts of micronutrients like taurine and vitamin E
- Gently cooked—We steam our meals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and preserve the authentic taste, aroma, and texture of meat
- Allergen-free—Untamed meals are free from common allergens. If your kitty has an extra sensitive tummy, try our single-protein recipes, Tuck-in Tuna and Chocka Chicken
- Loved by fussy kitties—Our dreamy flavours hit the right note for every kitty!
Untamed offers diverse protein options, including ham, duck, tuna, shrimp, salmon, sardine, mackerel, and chicken breast and liver. Take our TRY NOW quiz today to order your first taster pack at the best price!
Let’s put a full stop to chaotic food experiments. This is it, hooman. I want this for the rest of my life.
Image (c) Untamed
Untamed meals complement every life stage!
Once your kitty is used to Untamed, you’ll be done and dusted with the tricky transition game. Our products cater to a cat’s needs from kittenhood to senior years. Untamed helps with:
- Weight management—Sterilised or indoor cats tend to gain weight easily. Our grain-free and sugar-free meals can keep them lean effortlessly. We can also help cats who need to bulk up. If you have a frail senior cat, help them gain weight and maintain muscle tone by feeding them a suitable number of Untamed cans in a day
- Gastrointestinal health—Our whole meat meals can recalibrate a stressed digestive system and optimise its functions
- Appetite regulation—Our protein-packed food helps kitties feel full and be active. It’s ideal for improving appetite in demotivated senior cats who gag or regurgitate a lot
- Prevention of common illnesses—If you introduce Untamed to your kitten early on, there’s a lower chance of them developing common feline diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and kidney disease
You can notice the benefits of switching to Untamed meals from the first week. Here’s what our satisfied clients say:
The Untamed effect
Two to four months
Six months and up
Most of our clients had no trouble switching their cats to Untamed, thanks to the killer combo of our healthy recipes and lip-smacking taste!
Mix it up with Untamed—We offer fascinating flavours for kitties who love some excitement on their plate!
Image (c) Untamed
Order Untamed and make the change your kitty deserves
We run one of the best online cat food stores in the UK. Ordering your first Untamed taster pack is only a couple of clicks away:
- Take our TRY NOW quiz
- Answer questions about your cat’s health and food preferences
- Select suitable products and place your order
We offer one-day home delivery of cat food, and our shipping is always free. If you want regular Untamed supplies, we will refill your pantry every month around the same date. You are free to modify, postpone, or cancel a particular order at your convenience.
We honour ethical practices throughout our production and delivery cycle. We go for sustainable options like:
- Humanely farmed meat
- Dolphin-safe seafood
- Fully recyclable packaging
Switching kitten food—cautionary tips
Many parents struggle to choose the right product for weaned-off kittens. Younglings have sensitive tummies, and low-quality meals can give them diarrhoea pretty quickly. Changing cat food too fast is a double jeopardy situation for kittens as going back and forth between different types of food almost always triggers a gastric episode. Rapid loss of fluids is lethal for kittens due to their low body mass.
Follow these tips to prevent bouts of diarrhoea in your kitty while changing food:
- Choose a suitable product—Baby cats should eat wet food made with real meat and no fillers or additives. Kittens don’t respond well to:
- Feed correct portions—For a product to work for your kitten, you must portion it accurately, as follows:
- Kittens under six months usually eat in tiny portions about 4–5 times a day
- Older kittens who have achieved their desired body weight can eat adult portions 2–3 times a day
- Offer safe snacks—Sometimes, the culprit behind kitten diarrhoea or food poisoning is not the cat food but the wrong snacks. Safe kitty snacks include meat treats, biscuits, and bite-sized pieces of fruits like mangoes, bananas, strawberries, and blueberries
Check out the table below for some examples of toxic and potentially harmful snacks:
Snacks harmful for kittens
What to do if your kitten gets diarrhoea
If your kitty gets diarrhoea at any time during the transition, focus on keeping them hydrated with the right food. Diarrhoea-friendly meals include:
- Bland chicken and rice
- Boiled and pureed pumpkin or carrots
- Plain yoghurt (opt for lactose-free yoghurt if your kitty is lactose intolerant)
- Unseasoned homemade meat soup or broth
Closely monitor your sick kitty and reach out to your vet if their condition doesn’t improve within 12 hours.