Eight Tips For Switching Your Cat From Dry To Wet Food

Some cats just really love their dry food. I've had a few of those myself! But dry food really is not good for cats. It can cause obesity and gum disease. And many veterinarians believe cats on mostly-dry-food diets are always slightly dehydrated.

With patience and determination, you can switch a cat from dry to wet food. Just try these suggestions.

1. If your cat eats both wet and dry food now, gradually decrease the amount of dry food she gets and increase the amount of wet food. You want your cat to be healthier, not stressed, and suddenly taking away all of her dry food could make her very stressed!

2. Put a bowl with just a bite of wet food beside her bowl of dry. She might be curious about what's in the second bowl and decide to give it a try. Don't give up if she doesn't eat the wet food right away. You might have to do this for several days before she works up the courage to taste what's in that other bowl.

3. Put several pieces of her dry food or some of her favorite treats on top of the wet food. Again, give her just a bite. If she eats the dry food or treats off the top, press them into the wet food.

4. Entice her to eat the wet food by sprinkling Parmesan cheese, Halo Liv-A-Little treats, Stella and Chewy's freeze dried raw food (my cats like the chicken) or bonito flakes on top of the food. Pure Bites are another freeze dried chicken treat that cats love. The dog and cat treats are exactly the same, except the dog treats come in a bigger bag. Something else to try is drizzling some of the liquid from a can of tuna on top of the food, or just add a little bit of tuna.

5. Put just a tiny bite of wet food under some dry food in a separate bowl. Gradually increase the amount of wet food you hide under the dry.

6. Offer your cat meat baby food (chicken, ham and turkey are the most popular), deli chicken or turkey with no preservatives or added flavoring or tuna to get her used to eating food that doesn't crunch.

7. Dip pieces of her dry food in wet food so she can get used to the taste and smell of the wet food.

8. Try hand-feeding her little "meatballs" of wet food.

Some cats make the switch from dry to wet food quickly and happily. For others, the transition takes months, or even years. Be patient, and don't give up! Try each suggestion for several days. It takes some cats a while to catch on. If you decide one suggestion is not going to work, wait several days before trying another so the cat doesn't get confused and become even more resistant. And remember this: Your cat needs to eat! Cats who don't eat are at risk for fatty liver disease, and that's especially true of cats who are overweight. If you cat is determined to have her crunchies and is still holding out after several hours, let her have the food she wants and try again another day. Switching your cat to wet food has to be done on her terms, not yours!

How Cats Like To Eat

Getting your cat to kick the dry food habit will be easier if you think about how cats like to eat.

  • Taste is less important to cats than the way food smells and feels in their mouths. That's why it can be so difficult to transition some cats from dry to wet food. Since wet food smells and feels different, it can take some time for them to recognize it as food.
  • Cats prefer food at room or "mouse" temperature. Some cats won't touch wet food that's beenrefrigerated, even if it's reached room temperature when it's served.
  • Cats' bodies are designed to consume several small meals a day, and always having access to food is their natural way of eating. It's possible to free feed wet food the same way you free feed dry. It won't go bad if left out for several hours, and your cat will nibble all day.
  • Some cats prefer seeing small (mouse size) portions of food in their bowls. Splitting your cat's portion between two bowls might encourage her to eat.
  • Your cat's wet food bowls should be wide enough so she doesn't have to crumple her whiskers when she's eating and shallow enough that she doesn't have to bury her entire face in the bowl to get to her food.

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