Transitioning Your Cat's Food with Treats
So you're thinking about changing your cat's food. Whether you're doing it for health, you want to change the type of food, or you just want to get your cat onto a rotational diet, convincing your cat to eat something new can be difficult. After all, new is scary! Their instincts tell them that something they don't recognize might make them sick, so they're often skeptical of anything different in their bowl.
While there are many ways to help convince your cat to eat something new, an often overlooked technique is using treats.
When using this method, you want the treat to be high value. Because cats are carnivores, this means that the meatier a treat is, the better.
First, you need to find the treat that your cat can't seem to live without. This can take some time, but we recommend using an animal protein they're already familiar with, and then finding a matching treat. Jerky, dehydrated snacks, or a meaty cookie are all great options.
Next, begin adding small pieces of the treats to the food you're already feeding. Do not give them the treats outside of this time so that they come to expect it with their meals. Just a couple of feedings should be enough.
Third, begin the transition. If your cat has been eating the same food for a long time, you're going to want to take this slowly. While their bodies are quick to adapt, their minds can take some convincing. You'll want to mix 75% of the old food with 25% of the new. Alternatively, for the super picky eaters, start with just a dollop of the new food. Make sure you're mixing in the treats! This will be the familiarity that helps convince them the new food is OK.
Once they seem OK with this change, move them to 50% old food with 50% new food: keep using the treats. Then it will be 25% old food and 75% new food.
After a week or two, you can transition them entirely onto the new food. Just be sure to give them their treats so there's still something extra delicious from their old food.
Finally, you can slowly remove the treats from their meals and give them to your cat as you normally would. By now, your cat should be seamlessly enjoying their new diet!
Now, if you're moving from kibble to canned, freeze-dried, or raw, or you just don't want to get into feeding treats, you can use kibble or air-dried food the same way. We recommend using a high quality food. Using an old favorite while you transition you cats to new textures and types of food (the ultra-scary transition) will really entice them to eat without sacrificing any nutrition or health in the process.
Whatever your reason for changing your cat's food, cat treats can make the transition easy and stress-free for everyone involved.
- Rogue Valley Pet Admin