It might seem like a natural thing for cats to savour canned food. Usually it means more meat and flavour for them and being obligate carnivores, you would think offering your kitty a canned food would be a no-brainer. But that isn’t always the case. Cats are very texture and flavour sensitive, and if they were never exposed to the variety of textures and flavours available in wet food, it might be more difficult than you think to break them of their dry food habits. If your cat won’t eat wet food, keep reading to learn more about its benefits and how to transition.
Why wet food?
There are a number of reasons why you might need to encourage your cat to eat wet food. Hydration is the biggest reason as cats are not natural water drinkers. In the wild, most of their hydration comes from the prey they catch and eat. Senior cats often don’t hydrate themselves well enough and this can make them feel poorly. Urinary crystals can develop in cats who are not properly hydrated and this is a condition you certainly don’t want to have on your hands! And many cats who have had teeth extracted can find dry food hard to handle.
Cats are known for being fussy eaters and very often a canned meat-based diet is the answer to that problem. Exposing your kitty to a lot of different textures early in life will help her enjoy the various types of patés, stews and shredded wet foods available today.
How can I get my cat to eat wet food?
First of all, you must be patient. The process can take weeks or even months, so don’t rush it. You will probably have to try a variety of different flavours and textures to find the magic recipe for success.
- If you have been free feeding dry food, transition to 3 or 4 meals a day of dry before offering wet food. Alert your cat it is mealtime and only leave the food down for 20 minutes, then take it up.
- Once your cat is accustomed to scheduled meals, you can offer wet food. Some cats will take to wet food right away, others will not.
- If not, start by introducing a very small amount of wet food with your kitty’s kibble. Gradually increase the ratio of wet to dry until the cat is eating all wet food. If she isn’t keen on the canned food you introduce, try a different type of food such as a stew or paté or a different flavour. Again, if she doesn’t eat within 20 or 30 minutes of putting the food down, take it up and try again later.
- Sometimes, just getting cats started on a wet food is the hardest thing to accomplish. If your kitty is really resistant to the wet food, try watering it down with varying amounts of warm water to a consistency she can lap up instead of biting into. Hopefully, the yummy flavours and smell will overpower the aversions she may have to textures and consistency. If kitty sniffs at the wet food and doesn’t even give it a taste, try putting a small amount on the tip of her nose or on her paw. She’ll lick it off and sometimes that’s enough to get her started.
- It is very important that you do not allow your kitty to go without food for longer than 24 hours due to risk of hepatic lipidosis. This is a disease of the liver commonly called ‘fatty liver disease’ which, left untreated, can be fatal. So, if it looks like kitty is going to be stubborn about the change do make sure you offer food that she is accustomed to, so that she does not risk becoming ill. Start over again, very slowly with attempting the transition.
You don’t have to transition completely away from kibble, both wet and dry foods have their benefits, so you may want to free feed kibble during the day and serve wet food for morning and evening meal times. Find a balance that suits your cat’s needs and nutritional requirements. Again, be patient any time you change your cat’s diet, whether it be a different type or a different flavour of food. A little patience will go a long way to a successful transition.
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