Cart --
0 Items in Cart
Your Shopping Cart is Empty
TOGGLE
Get $10 Credit

How to Change Cat Food

Keep Your Cat’s Tummy Healthy When Switching Foods

By Mary Kearl. July 23, 2013 | See Comments

  • expert or vet photo
    vet verified

    Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM

    Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition

    Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Ithaca, NY

How to Change Cat Food

A cat's food may have to be changed in order to accommodate what's going on in their lives at any particular time, whether that's aging or to address a health concern. The trick is trying to not upset their tummy during the process. Learn how to transition your cat to a new food here.

Knowing how to successfully switch your cat to a new type of food—without upsetting their tummy—isn’t just something that pet parents of picky eaters have to worry about. Tweaking what you feed your cat may be a necessary part of helping your pet age gracefully (transitioning from a kitten diet to an adult cat diet, and then continuing on to a senior cat diet later in life). A change in cat food may be needed to address weight gain or loss, or treat, manage, or eliminate certain health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease or cancer.

How Long Does it Take to Change Your Cat to a New Food?

The key to transitioning your cat to a new meal plan is to avoid making any sudden and drastic changes. Doing so could lead to gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea. Your little guy may even boycott the new food. The following timeline offers a healthy game plan for helping your cat make the switch:

 Days

 % Old Food

 % New Food

 1-2

 75%

 25%

 3-4

 50%

 50%

 5-6

 25%

 75%

 7

 0%

 100%

For cats with sensitive stomachs, you may need to spend a few more days on each stage, more gradually introducing the new food.

Tips for Successfully Switching Foods

 • You might want to present the new food as an alternative to an existing food, offering up both foods simultaneously so as to tempt your pet to try the newer choice.

• Increasing the temperature of the food (so that it is equivalent to body temperature) and mixing in appetizing fish or clam juice may help attract more reluctant pets to try something new.

• If you’ve recently adopted an adult cat or are bringing a new kitten into your home, you can help your new cat adjust by continuing to offer the food they had been eating—for at least the first few weeks in your home. Note: Your cat may not eat for the first day after being adopted or brought home, but if by the third day in your home, your new cat hasn’t eaten, it’s time to call your vet.

More on Cat Health

How To Prevent Dental Health Problems In Cats
The Best Senior Cat Pet Supplies
5 Common Cat Problems and Health Issues

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. It has however been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Joe, a board certified veterinary nutritionist and graduate of Cornell University's program for Veterinary Medicine.

Was this article helpful?