Switching your cat to a canned or raw diet may prove challenging. Some cats will take to canned/raw food very quickly, especially when they have already been fed some canned food on a regular basis. However, many cats switching from a completely dry food to canned will fight tooth and nail for their dry kibble. With persistence, most cats will make the switch between a few days to a few weeks, however, extremely stubborn individuals may take a few months. One of my cats took four months to switch from a dry/canned diet to a canned only diet. He was obese at the time and required twice weekly weigh-ins. His refusal of food on many occasions was exceedingly frustrating but by using some of the methods below he was able to make the transition, all the while losing weight at a safe pace. He is now a normal weight, homemade raw-fed cat.
Diabetic cats that are switched to a high-meat-protein, low-carbohydrate wet food, will oftentimes no longer need insulin injections. For those that do still need insulin, the doses are typically minimal. Please work in conjunction with your veterinarian on any diet change. These cats often need their insulin dose decreased within a day or two of beginning this type of diet. If their insulin dose is not evaluated, they could become hypoglycemic which could lead to death. For a treatment protocol see the Diabetic Cat International’s website.
Overweight and obese cats and cats that are poor eaters should be monitored closely while undergoing this transition. Cats should not lose more than 1-2% of their body weight per week and no cat should go longer than 24 hours without eating.
These particular raw diets are not recommended for cats with chronic renal disease. Please see Dr Pierson's website for more information.
Tips for Making the Switch
• Stop feeding free-choice (ad lib) and develop a feeding schedule that works for you and your cat. Two to four meals per day are suggested. Your cats will learn the schedule and also finish their portions in the allotted time when they adjust to this new feeding format.
• Choose several canned foods to begin with, representing different types of flavors and textures including some pâté styles and chunk and gravy styles to see which version your cat is more interested in trying. Usually the odiferous fish scented ones work best for most cats and many have high meat by-product content and low carbohydrates that will appeal to cats. They are good for the short-term transition before transitioning to a better quality canned or raw food.
• Some high-meat-protein dry foods may also be used to entice your cats to try the canned food by mixing it into the food and/or sprinkling some pieces on top. However, these are not to be used forever as they still lack sufficient water for the cat’s diet and many are too high in phosphorus.
• Slowly, over several days’ or weeks’ time, reduce the amount of dry food and increase the amount of wet.
• You may also add low-sodium tuna water, low-sodium chicken broth (no onions or garlic), some cooked chicken chunks, or meat only baby food (no onions or garlic) to the canned food. Drizzle some of the canned food juice or gravy over the canned food to make it more enticing.
• Start a play session about ten or fifteen minutes before you plan on feeding. In the wild, cats would have to chase down their prey before eating, thereby working up an appetite.
• Whenever a dietary change occurs, the gastrointestinal tract may need time to adjust to the new diet. Some cats may experience softer stools or diarrhea. That is why it is important to go slowly with this process. Some cats will regurgitate after eating as well. If this happens, slow the process down.
• You may be throwing away a lot of uneaten food during this transitional phase.
• Don’t Give Up! This may be a lesson in frustration but not in futility!
Switching your cat to a wet, high-meat-protein diet is the single best thing you can ever do for your cat. Not only your cat, but you will reap the benefits, your cat will enjoy excellent health and longevity and you will rest easy knowing you have given your cat the best nutrition you can while also saving money on veterinarian bills.
Information on this site is for general information purposes only and is provided without warranty or guarantee of any kind. This site is not intended to replace professional advice from your own veterinarian and nothing on this site is intended as a medical diagnosis or treatment. Any questions about your animal’s health or diet should be directed to your veterinarian.