Monday, August 17, 2015

Rotation feeding for cats: The how and the why of adding food variety

A close shot of Lucy the blind cat
When you find a cat food you like (and that your cat will eat), you're often tempted to buy that brand and that flavor forever. I know: I've done it.

But there's some evidence that switching things up from time to time could be great for your cat.

This method of feeding (which is typically called "rotation feeding") involves changing foods on a pretty regular basis. And it's something I've just started with Lucy.

Why rotate?

While experts are pretty divided about where our indoor cats come from, most agree that there's a free-roaming kitty ancestor out there that moved from individual hunting to human handouts. Cats like this probably had wildly differing diets from one day to the next, depending on what they could either kill or steal.

A rotation diet for cats replicates that eating pattern, and that might be good for cat mental health. These guys like variety and stimulation, and often, the food bowl is a prime target of interest. By putting something a little different in there from time to time, we could give our cats the surprises they're hoping for.

Also, some veterinarians (like Jean Dodds) suggest that using the same food source for an endless amount of time creates a sub-par gut that can't digest unusual foods, and mono-eating cats might not be getting the nutritional profile they could get with different types of foods.

(I'd like to see more hard research on this score, as I'm not really satisfied with the arguments that underpin gut health and rotation feeding. Pointing out that humans wouldn't have optimal health on restricted diets isn't really good enough for me, as humans aren't cats. But I digress...)

For me, the big benefit of a rotation is that it helps to reduce pickiness. Cats that eat the same thing, year in and year out, can become so in-tune with that food that they'll reject even a manufacturer recipe modification. And heaven forbid that food is gone for good. By teaching the cats that anything they get in their bowl is probably good for them and tasty, too, I could help to avoid some of the huge picky-cat problems I'm dealing with in senior cat Troy right now.

Lucy the blind cat resting in her green cat bed before dinner
"Is it time for dinner yet?"

 How to begin rotation feeding for cats 

Rotation feeding is easier when you're buying from a manufacturer with an extensive product list. Lucy, for example, is eating Solid Gold at the moment. That means she has all sorts of flavors at her kitty fingertips, including some made with turkey, some with rabbit, some with duck and some with fish.

I could incorporate rotation feeding by choosing a different flavor when her current bag of food runs out. And when that bag runs out, I could switch again. There's so much to choose from, that would be really easy.

If Lucy were a canned food fan (which she is not, sadly), I could also get variety packs of food and dabble different flavors on her meals from time to time. That variety of flavor and protein could be a great way to give her tastebuds kick.

Do you want to try this for yourself? Be sure to check back in on Thursday. I'll be launching a sweepstakes for Solid Gold food. Come and enter!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Solid Gold provided Lucy with samples of food to try, and I agreed to write up notes about my experiences in exchange for those samples. No money changed hands, and this reflects my opinion only. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. We do rotation feeding with our dogs, I was just thinking of this the other day in regards to my kitties. I'm thinking why not?
    I like the idea of giving them more variety, and supposedly it helps with allergy issues.

    1. I've heard that allergy part, too. Again, since I'm a geek, I'd love to see the science behind that. But if it's true, that's another big pro!