Dogs will eat what you feed them and thank you for your efforts. Cat’s will turn up their noses and give you a clip round the ear for your failings. Obviously, there are exceptions. If you have a cat that will lick the bowl regardless of its contents and give you a purr for dessert, then count yourself lucky. And count your cat an extremely rare little feline. Cats are picky in just about everything, and won’t hesitate in letting you know all about their displeasure in long, excruciating detail. Which can make the task of switching their tried-and-tested regular cat food to something new all the more painful. If you’ve decided to make the change from dry food to wet (or vice versa), you’ve set yourself a big challenge… but not an insurmountable one. Prepare to take on your cat and their appetite with these top tips.
Take It Slow
When it comes to winning cat’s around to, well, just about anything, slow and steady wins the race. Cats, unlike dogs, people, and just about anything else with a pulse and an ounce of common sense, would happily starve them into an early grave if it means they ‘win’ the battle – and yes, by changing their food without their prior written approval, you’ve unwittingly entered into exactly that. If you want your cat to accept a different type of food, make the change from their usual kind in slow, incremental steps. If they’ve been eating kibble for the past 5 years without issue, you’ll need to bring them around to the idea of wet food almost without them realizing it. Similarly, if you’re introducing them to kibble for the first time, stealth tactics are going to be needed. Start by mixing a tiny amount of the new food into their old food, gradually increasing the proportion of new to old each day. Take a week (or even more, if your cat is a particularly fussy eater) to make the full transition, using the following helpful schedule from Petsmart as your guide.
- Day 1: 75% old food, 25% new food
- Day 2: 70% old food, 30% new food
- Day 3: 60% old food, 40% new food
- Day 4: 50% old food, 50% new food
- Day 5: 40% old food, 60% new food
- Day 6: 25% old food, 75% new food
- Day 7: 100% new food
Mix Things Up
You might want your cat to eat an all-dry or all-wet diet, but your cat may have different ideas. Sometimes, the best result you can hope for is a compromise. If you’ve tried and failed to get your cat onboard their new diet plan, try adopting a more mixed approach. If your cat’s a sucker for kibble, then indulge them – but add a dollop of wet food on top so they get the best of both worlds. Providing at least half of the bowl is made up of their preferred tucker, they’ll likely tolerate a few additions without kicking up too much of a stink.
Change Their Bowl
As basic as it sounds, the type and size of a bowl can have a big impact on how much of its contents makes its way into your kitty’s tummy. As Catster reports, some cats like a deep-sided bowl; others prefer a flat plate. Some like a metal container, while others have a preference for plastic. If your cat’s backing away from the food tray at mealtimes, experiment with different containers until you find their favorite. Likewise, the temperature of their food can have a big impact on how much your cat looks forward to mealtimes. Some will gobble their food down without giving a hoot about how hot or cold it is; others prefer their food to be at body temperature. If you’re making a change in the type of food you’re feeding them, thinking outside the box and considering things like temperature and bowls can make a big difference to how well they take to the change.
Make Things Interesting
If you’re hoping to graduate your cat from wet food to dry, there’s a way of getting them involved in the change that’s almost guaranteed to work… add some toys. “There are a lot of fun food toys and dispensers that make it interesting,” Dr. Angie Kraus from I and love and you tells Catster. “They can roll a ball around, and it can dispense food or it will look like grass, and they have to bat it around to get it out of the grass.” Once they’ve started to see kibble as a treat and something ‘fun’, you can bet your life they won’t pass up the chance to gobble it down.
Tempt Their Appetite
If you’re desperate to get your cat as interested in their new diet as you are, there are a few things you can add to their bowl to make their dinner more interesting. Preventivevet.com has some great suggestions, including:
- Add a little of the juice from a can of tuna or anchovies to their food – the smell will rouse the appetite of even the pickiest eater.
- Pour some warm, low-sodium chicken broth into their food (although make sure it doesn’t contain any bothersome onions, onion powder, chives, or garlic, all of which are known to be as friendly to cat’s as next-door’s rottweiler is).
- Warm the food very slightly in the microwave, or add a little warm water before serving.
- Sprinkle a little grated parmesan cheese on top of the food. The flavor and smell will set their taste buds singing, while the high content of taurine will do their health the world of good.
- Sprinkle a teaspoon of nutritional yeast powder (not to be confused with brewer’s yeast) onto their food: as well as being a great way of stimulating their appetite, it’ll also give them a hefty dose of vitamin B.
- Add a little Purina FortiFlora probiotic to their food. The probiotic content will do wonders for their gut health, while the taste and aroma will convince them that they’re tucking into the most delectable dish in the world.