You might want to change your cat’s food to a new brand or type, either for preference or because you have been advised to do so for a medical reason, such as a special diet for kidney disease.
It’s always best to change the food gradually, over a couple of weeks. This may seem like a long time but it’s best to be patient to avoid any problems. This is especially true for cats, who are creatures of habit and usually very reluctant to take to a change in their food straight away. If you rush through, it can mean your cat won’t want to eat the food you offer to them, leaving you needing to find an alternative.
Never change their food suddenly unless you are advised to do so by your vet. This is because sudden changes to diet can cause a tummy upset or even diarrhoea, and for some pets it may make them less likely to eat the food offered to them.
These time frames are intended as a guide; you may actually find that the transition process needs to be made over a longer period, especially if your cat is particularly fussy.
Day 1-4: Introduce a small amount of the new food separately
- Give your cat their regular meal as normal. On a separate plate or bowl, put down a spoonful of your pet’s new food.
- Keep them on separate plates or bowls and don’t mix the foods together. Putting the new food and the old food out separately is to introduce them to the idea that this strange new substance with a different smell and texture has something to do with food!
- They’ll probably sniff it, and may even eat it. Don’t worry if your cat doesn’t show much interest in the new food, even if they ate it well on the first day. This is really common in cats. After a few more days they should start to show interest again, so stick with a small spoonful and be patient.
- Don’t move on to the next step until your cat has happily eaten the new food for at least 3 days.
Day 5-10(ish): Increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old food
- Keep the food separate at all times, especially for wet food – texture is very important to cats and so if you mix the food they might not eat any of it.
- Don’t add more new food until your cat is reliably eating all of the new food that you offer – the whole change-over process might take longer than 10 days for some cats because of this, but that’s okay. Even if the change-over is going well, don’t be tempted to skip ahead as this can mean your cat rejects the food completely.
Day 10-14: Phase out the old food
- Once your pet is consistently eating the new food alongside the old for at least a week, start feeding only the new food.
- If they don’t want to eat it, this is usually a sign you have gone through the process too quickly and you may need to start again with a new food.
If you follow these steps, you should be able to introduce a new food to even the pickiest cat without difficulty. If you’re having trouble, it’s best to speak to your vet to make sure that the food you’re feeding is best for your pet and that they don’t have any health issues that might be affecting their appetite.