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Switching Cat Food: Steps To Consider To Keep Your Cat Healthy

By Bridget Reed


You will inevitably have to change your feline’s food at least once in their life and likely more. There are several reasons you may need to change your cat’s food and a few tips you should know to do so well. 

Just like any habit you have, your cats grow accustomed to their food, so transitioning can be difficult. This article will take a close look at how you can help your four-legged friend transition from one cat food to another.

Why Should I Switch My Cat’s Food?

Before diving into how you can safely switch your cat’s food, you might be wondering why you need to make the change in the first place. This section will cover all the reasons you may need to change your feline’s food.


The most common reason pet parents change their cat’s food is age. As cats get older and mature, their dietary needs change, just like humans. When your cat is born and up until the age of one, they should eat food specifically made for kittens. 

Kitten food usually contains more calories and special nutrients that your feline will need during this important time in their life. Once your cat is one year old, the extra calories and nutrients in kitten food may lead to weight gain. 

For this reason, it will be important to transition them to adult food. Once your cat matures and reaches the age of seven, you may want to consider giving them kibble or wet food made for senior cats. Elderly cats can benefit from food engineered to support their immune system, digestive system, and joint health as they age. 


If you rescue an outdoor cat and plan to keep them indoors, you may need to switch them to a formula for indoor cats gradually. Since indoor cats tend to be slightly less active than outdoor cats, they are prone to weight gain and hairballs, which are addressed by kibble and wet foods made specifically for indoor cats.


Obesity and weight gain can lead to several health issues for felines and even shorten their lives. For this reason, it’s important to keep a close eye on your furry friend’s weight and to switch them to a special food if they seem to be gaining an unhealthy amount of weight. 

Make sure to talk with your veterinarian if your cat is gaining weight. They can recommend healthy, nutritious food to help your cat maintain a healthy weight. In some cases, your vet may also recommend a different serving size for your feline’s meals. 


There are other health issues aside from weight gain that a change in diet can address. Changing their food may be beneficial if your cat experiences digestive issues such as constipation or is prone to dry itchy skin.

Also, if your cat is pregnant, you may need to change their diet. Pregnant cats need food packed with calcium and different nutrients to sustain them through their pregnancy. Talk with your vet about what dietary changes you should make for your feline if they are pregnant. 

How Can I Switch My Cat’s Food?

Now that you know a few of the reasons why you may need to change your cat’s food, it is important to know how you can safely make the change. Unlike humans who tend to eat something different for every meal, cats grow accustomed to their food. For this reason, it is important to change their food gradually over a couple of weeks. 

Cats are creatures of habit, and changing their food abruptly can lead to health problems and may make your cat reluctant to try the alternative. If you change your cat’s food too soon, they may experience diarrhea or an upset stomach. It’s especially important to make a gradual change if your cat is very particular about their food. 

Unless your vet recommends that you change your cat’s food immediately, you can use the following timeline as a guide to transition your cat from one type of food to another. 

Days One to Four

For the first four days, when transitioning your cat to a new type of food, give them all of their regular meals with their old food and put a small amount of new food on a separate plate. 

Putting the new food on a separate plate at mealtimes will introduce your cat to the idea that it is similar to the old food but a distinct type of food. Mixing them in the same bowl may confuse your feline. 

Don’t worry if your cat only sniffs the new food without taking a bite. Unlike dogs who tend to try everything, cats need a long time to warm up to the idea of a new type of food. After a few days, they should start showing interest and eat a spoonful of new food. Make sure they consistently eat the new food for at least three days before you move on to the next phase of the transition. 

Days Five to 10 

Between the fifth and 10th day of the transition, you should still keep the two foods separate, but you can gradually increase the amount of the new food and decrease the amount of the old food. This is especially important if you transition from wet to dry food or vice versa.

Again, don’t increase the amount of the new food you give your cat until they consistently eat the entire portion of the new food. Rushing this process may cause your cat to lose interest entirely in the new food. 

Day 10

After your four-legged friend constantly eats the new food for a week, you can start to decrease the amount of the old food until you only give them a spoonful of the old food. Eventually, you can transition them entirely to the new food.

If your cat begins to resist eating the new food at any point, don’t be afraid to slow the process down or go back to a previous stage. 

Why Is Transitioning From Dry Food to Wet Food So Difficult?

Cats are very attuned to texture, so switching them from dry food to wet food can be very problematic. Your cat may resist the new texture of the wet food, so you can try warming it to body temperature to make it more palatable. 

Additionally, if your cat has a favorite human food that they like to snack on, you can sprinkle a little bit on top to make the wet food seem more alluring. Although cats tend to like the taste of wet food, the newness of the flavor may involve a little bit of convincing on your end. 


You can safely switch your cat’s food if you do so gradually over time. Although it may take a bit of effort from pet parents, your furry friend will thank you if you slowly introduce them to their new food.


Feeding Your Cat | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

The Effects of Nutrition on the Gastrointestinal Microbiome of Cats and Dogs: Impact on Health and Disease | Frontiers

Growth Curves and Body Condition of Young Cats and Their Relation to Maternal Body Condition | NIH

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