Monday, June 22, 2015

How to get a picky cat to eat a new cat food: A step-by-step guide

cat and cat food

Over the weekend, pretty blind cat Lucy started the 4-week Solid Gold Free Spirit Challenge, meaning that I got about a month's worth of food for her to try, in trade for writing about the experience. So, over the weekend, I dutifully started transferring her from her old cat food to the new cat kibble.

I expect some challenges.

Lucy is a picky eater. She won't eat any kind of cat food that's wet (regardless of who makes it), and she's recently become quite picky about the dry food she'll put into her little mouth. The food we've been using for years just doesn't seem to appeal to her at all. More often than not, she leaves much of the food in the bowl when mealtime is over.

Transitioning her to a new food might be an excellent solution. But I'll need to go slowly and carefully to make sure everything goes well.

Here's my step-by-step action plan.

Step 1: Introduce the new cat food as a treat. 

Lucy is accustomed to getting a little nibble of something when she comes to my hands when I call her. I started training her to do that when she was a kitten (and I was worried that she'd get lost in my house). If I could get her to run to me when called, I figured, I'd spend less time looking for her.

Normally, I give her a nibble of her old cat food or a touch of a meat-based dog treat. But over the weekend, I used this new food instead. I want her to think of it as something excellent and tasty and unusual. Treat work should help.

Step 2: Transition your cats slowly. 

Popping a cat on a new food plan, all at once, is a sure-fire way to cause digestive upset. And if cats associate the foods they're eating with the sickness they're feeling, that's a recipe for food aversion.

It's best to transition to the new food very slowly. At each meal, Lucy gets just a tiniest bit more new food and the tiniest bit less old kibble. She may not even notice the transition, it's so small, but it's happening at every single meal, at a pace her digestive system can handle.

Cat and solid gold cat food

Step 3: Put the new cat food on top. 

As I'm moving Lucy to her new food, I want to make sure she notices the difference when she's hungry. With a sighted cat, I might worry a little less, as cat food brands tend to look different from one another. But with Lucy, I must rely on smell and mouth feel, and both of those senses probably grow less acute with each bite she takes.

So when I'm moving her over, I use the new food like a meal topper. I want her to notice it and eat it first, right when the meal tastes the best.

So far, I'm happy to report that Lucy is doing well on her Solid Gold food, and I expect that to last. But do check back, as I'll be writing more in-depth cat food reviews as this challenge goes on.

Note: I was not sponsored for this review. Instead, I got several weeks' worth of cat food to try, at no charge, for Lucy, and I agreed to provide my honest opinion about the products and my experience. No monetary compensation was involved.

No comments: