Thinking of changing your cat’s diet? It may be a good idea. As cats age, their nutritional needs become increasingly influenced by both biological and environmental factors. An awareness of such factors will maximize both the health and longevity of your pet.
Your Cat’s Life Cycle
Special attention should be paid to the developmental stage of your cat. A kitten’s metabolism is very fast, thus requiring a lot of protein for growth, while an older cat’s metabolism is much slower and therefore requires less. Choosing cat foods high in glucosamine and chondroitin will benefit the joints of older cats, whereas cat foods high in fat and carbohydrates compliment the high energy expenditure that kittens experience.
Allergenic Reactions & Hormones
Cats may develop allergenic reactions to their food, even if they have been on the same diet for years without incident. For example, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues, as well as itchy skin, are not an uncommon result of a cat’s diet. Spaying and or neutering your cat may warrant a change in your cat’s diet, as these operations cause hormonal fluctuations. These hormonal fluctuations may affect their appetites and energy levels. Under any such circumstances, it is advised to consult your veterinarian for solutions specific to your pet.
Types of Food Formulas
Various food formulas exist to help prevent potential issues your cat may face. Urinary health formulas reduce crystals forming in the cat’s bladder and urethra, keeping its tracts healthy. Indoor formulas may help to prevent hairballs and to provide a healthy fur coat, while minimizing the amount of shedding the cat experiences.
How to Change Diets
Changing your cat’s diet should be done gradually. The transition time between your cat’s old diet and your cat’s new diet is very sensitive period, with abrupt changes increasing the chance gastrointestinal issues. A 7 day switch is generally recommended as follows:
- Day 1: 75% new food, 25% old food
- Day 2: 70% new food, 30% old food
- Day 3: 60% new food, 40% old food
- Day 4: 50% new food, 50% old food
- Day 5: 40% new food, 60% old food
- Day 6: 25% new food, 75% old food
- Day 7: 100% new food
However, different food brands may come with their own set of recommendations. Make sure to read the labels and adjust the above guideline as needed.
During the transition period, it is especially important to pay attention to your cat’s behavior, specifically its appetite and digestion patterns. If you notice any unusual changes (such as vomiting or diarrhea), be sure to consult your veterinarian to discuss a solution.