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Finicky Kitty? How to Switch Your Cat to a New Brand of Cat Food

September 24, 2019

Cat eating out of a food bowl

A healthy kitty is a contented kitty. One simple thing a pet parent can do to achieve that purrr-fect level of health and quality of life is switching to a high-quality diet. The right diet that suits your cat will give their body better access to nutrients, making your cat look and feel better from the inside out. Other benefits of a healthy diet include:

  • Fewer foul litter box odors and messes.
  • Fewer hairballs.
  • Relief from food allergies and digestive issues.
  • Healthier skin and a softer coat.

Why are cats such finicky eaters?

Many cats do eat anything you put in front of them. But many others fit into that familiar trope of felines as finicky eaters. If the latter describes your cat, it may be helpful to understand dinner from the cat’s perspective.

When cats take a mouthful of food, their experience is different from ours. Did you know that humans possess 10,000 taste receptors, while your cat has something like 470? While flavor drives a human’s evaluation of a meal, cats put more emphasis on smell and mouthfeel. So even if you serve up a protein you know they’ll eat, it’s perfectly normal for a cat to be wary at first. Rejecting the food after the first sniff test is pretty normal cat behavior. So is being weirded out by a new brand’s unfamiliar texture.

Switching brands means being prepared to go slow and being patient as kitty adjusts. (More on that in the next section.) Many pet parents stick to a dry kibble but vary proteins of wet food. This does two things — if you have a high-quality kibble with probiotics it helps keep the gut healthy and stool consistent so you can top or add different wet foods without upsetting their stomachs.

Chicken, lamb, salmon and duck also give their bodies access to the different amino acids and nutrition profiles offered by various meats. This approach lets them get accustomed to variety.

And as always, make sure your new brand is filler-free. Avoid ingredients like soy or corn, because those can aggravate any digestive issues that show up during the switch. Look for whole grains, like lentils and brown rice.

Can changing your cat’s food make them sick?

When it comes to switching a cat’s food, don’t take a tough stance with your cat with the idea that if they get hungry, they’ll come around. It’s essential to be aware that going without food can trigger a severe medical issue for cats. It elevates the risk of hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease.

What is hepatic lipidosis, and what does it do? when a cat goes without food, its liver goes to work converting fat into usable energy. When an abnormally high level of fat accumulates in the liver, it won’t function well and brings on the onset of this rare condition. When left untreated, the organ can become damaged and the cat can die of malnutrition.

While going without food for a day or two doesn’t necessarily kick off hepatic lipidosis, a lack of food can create the right conditions in the liver to jump-start this serious and potentially fatal condition. Nine times out of 10, fatty liver is a secondary condition of obesity, cancer, diabetes and kidney disease. It’s always a good idea to find a great dry food and switch up wet food to complement the dry food diet — this way cats never go without food if they don’t appreciate the new upscale pate we just served them.

How to help your cat transition to a new food

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the kitty's perspective of the dinner entrée, use these tips to help you make the change when you switch to a high-quality diet.

Kick off the food switch with the rule of 20

An immediate switch over to a new brand can wreak havoc on your cat’s digestive system, which means extra messes in the litter box. That’s why vets recommend a gradual change, where you start with a smaller ratio of new food served with a larger serving of the old standby.

  • Day 1: 20% new food to 80% old brand.
  • Day 2 (Or the day after kitty accepts the new food): 40% new food to 60% old.
  • Day 3: 60% new to 40% old.
  • Day 4: 80% new to 20% old.
  • Day 5: 100% new food.

But follow your cat’s lead

On day one, if the new brand fails the sniff test, don’t take it as the final verdict. Serve the same portion again with the evening meal, and repeat it the following day. Most pet parents find that after a few days of sniffing out the new food, most cats will come around. It’s not coddling; sometimes they need a little time. The day after kitty willingly scarfs up the new food, increase the portion. Before you know it, your cat will adapt to the new diet.

Look for probiotics

Like any mammal, you’ll want your cat’s digestive tract to be in balance with plenty of “good bacteria” to aid digestion. Choose a formula with at least 80 million colony-forming units of probiotics, and it will help your pet’s system make a swifter adjustment. Also, smell from the litter box is caused by undigested proteins. If the cat gets help with probiotics to digest more of their meal, then there should be less smell in the litter box.

Make the cat’s meal more tempting

Try serving your cat’s new dinner at the bottom of the bowl, or mixing it. To enhance the smell, heat wet food in the microwave for no more than 10 seconds. (If your cat eats kibble, try adding a few spoonfuls of water before microwaving.)

What makes NutriSource the best choice for cats?

All NutriSource cat diets come with Good 4 Life, a unique blend of supplements created just for NutriSource that offers your cat all the minerals and nutrients they need to build a healthy body from the inside out. Here’s how Good 4 Life nourishes your cat.

  • NutriSource is family owned, and we grind our own meats in our own facilities, creating foods that deliver solutions for your beloved pets. From finicky eaters to sensitive tummies, we’re the number 1 food for gut health.
  • Probiotics build a healthy gut microbiome, creating the ideal environment that lets your cat absorb nutrients and pass hairballs without vomiting. Prebiotics are the essential companion to probiotics, providing a food source for the “good bacteria.”
  • Nucleo-Sacc contains our proprietary blend of glutamic acids, nucleotides and inositol, which makes us stand out from other cat foods:
    • Glutamic acid is an amino acid that increases palatability, builds muscles and promotes brain function.
    • Nucleotides are the building blocks needed for making new DNA and RNA and are essential for creating and replacing cells.
    • Inositol is a micronutrient that protects cells from oxidation, helps nerve cells function and is essential to maintaining a cat’s skin and coat.
  • Highly digestible Proteinated minerals, like zinc, copper, manganese, cobalt and iron, aid with effective digestion, support the immune system and build healthy skin and coat for less shedding.
  • Yucca extract helps digest the undigested proteins associated with litter box odors.

Discover more benefits Good 4 Life offers your pet, and look for NutriSource only at your local, independent pet supply retailer.