A lot of cat owners struggle with what food to provide. The typical choice is dry kibble, and this is fine for most cats who are healthy and drink plenty of water.
Dry cat food is a little bit cheaper and more convenient. Plus, it can keep a cat’s teeth clean and strong, as well as their jaw muscles.
But dry food is not always the best option for cats, as it has little moisture. Cats are built for high moisture and protein diet. Older cats and kittens benefit the most from a wet diet. Cats with health problems such as diabetes can greatly improve or simply maintain their health by switching to a wet food diet.
So, how do you switch your cat from dry to wet food? It can be a difficult process but whether the method is cold turkey or a slow change that involves weeks of mixing foods, it can be done. Luckily, cats have us to help them transition.
Why should your cat eat wet food?
Although dry food is fine, many dry foods are not made with a cat’s health in mind but rather their consumption. Many dry foods for cats are comparable to human junk food.
It is usually quite high in carbohydrates and other things cats do not need. A diet of only dry food for a long time can lead to conditions such as diabetes mellitus, obesity, and idiopathic cystitis.
Many health issues can be avoided for cats with a proper diet. Wet food is ideal for cats because it is much higher in protein, has fewer additives, fewer carbohydrates, and a lot of moisture.
Cats do not have a high thirst drive, and this decreases with age. Wet food can be essential to maintaining a cat’s hydration. Feline’s natural diets consist of small animals with a lot of blood and other sources of moisture.
Because of this, a cat with a dry food only diet might be slightly dehydrated all the time unless they have a healthy thirst drive. Imagine eating only dry crunchy food your whole life.
You would need to drink a lot of water every day to maintain a healthy balance. Most animals are supposed to get daily moisture intake from their food, not just water
As cats age, it becomes even more critical to put them on a mostly or all-wet food diet. Not only will they get the nutrients and water they need to stay healthy, but it can be easier to hide needed medications in wet food.
Young cats greatly benefit from a mixed diet. This means about half dry food and half wet food.
A mixed diet ensures that they are getting what they need from their wet food, and they are getting the few positives from dry food.
Cats are all individual creatures and the switch from dry to wet food might be challenging. Preference for texture, taste, and smell all depend on the cat.
If you have a household with multiple cats, you will probably see the differences in what they like.
How To Transition From Dry To Wet Food
Most cats will form a strict eating habit based on their owner’s feeding habits. If a cat is raised on dry food for many years, a transition to wet canned food will probably be difficult.
They have learned that food looks, tastes, smells, and feels a certain way. They often reject any food that is not what they are used to.
For this reason alone, cats should be fed a varied diet, so they are used to trying new foods. That way, if a change is necessary, it won’t be as hard to make it work.
When it is time to change up your cat’s diet, there are steps to make the transition work better:
- Take away your cat’s dry food the night before the change to wet food. This will ensure they are hungry for breakfast. The next morning, put out their new wet food.
- If your cat has never had wet food before, make sure it is either room temperature or a little warm. This is more natural for cats, as they would normally eat fresh animals. So, it will encourage them to eat.
- If this doesn’t work, try putting their new wet food out again a few hours later. Do not let your cat go hungry for more than a day, of course, but it is alright to let them be hungry until they want to at least try their new wet food.
- Put the food in their usual eating space. Consistency helps when transitioning from dry to wet food.
- Look at the ingredients in your cat’s usual dry food and try to match the list with the ingredients in wet food. This will provide a similar smell and taste.
- A slow transition from dry to wet food is possible by mixing in a bit of wet food with dry food. Over a few days or weeks (or months), change the proportions by adding more wet food and less dry food until it is all wet food.
- If your cat picks out their dry kibbles and leaves the wet food, try crushing their dry food up a bit so it is harder to pick out.
- Your cat might be particular about texture, which is understandable. There are many cat foods out there, so try a few different kinds to find which your cat prefers.
How To Choose The Right Wet Food
There are so many different cat foods out there, whether they be dry or wet. Cats can be very picky about their food and have a few determining factors to what they like.
Mostly a cat chooses a food they like based on texture and taste. But, this isn’t all. A cat will also determine the edibleness of their wet food by their ability to pick it up with their mouth.
If a cat has trouble biting or licking up their food, they will become discouraged and not want to eat.
As far as wet canned food options go, there are usually three kinds: pate, flaked, or chunky.
Pate is smooth, creamy, and spreadable. Flaked usually goes along with fish.
Imagine digging into a piece of salmon and that is about what the “flaked” texture looks like. Similar to flaked is shredded, which is like flaked but with proteins such as chicken.
Chunky is, well, chunky. Bigger pieces of protein are served in gravy.
There are a few other categories of texture, but these are the main options. There are even plain gravy options, which are thick but lappable.
Cats usually love gravies. Along the lines of gravies, there are soup options with small chunks of meat for extra moisture.
And of course, these can all be mixed and matched to your cat’s preferences. Gravy over dry food, anyone?
Watch your cat as they decide if they like the food or not. It should be easy to tell. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are they eager to finish, scarfing it down?
- Do they leave any of it in their bowl?
- Do they pick at it and take their time?
- Do they seem satisfied after by washing their face and paws, then settle down for a nice nap?
Any person who knows their cat well should generally be able to tell if their cat is happy with their food.
Cats are picky eaters, usually. Changing up their food can require a lot of patience, time, and tricks.
It can sometimes take months to change a cat’s food. Keep up both of your spirits by not worrying too much about the time it is taking.
Unless of course you have been instructed by a vet that the switch needs to be quick for your cat’s health sake. But over time, if they don’t jump on the wet food right away, you will both find the right food, and your cat will be on a healthier diet that will help them live a long and happy life.