You must seriously consider how you are going to make the necessary changes to your cat’s diet. Regardless of whether you are supplementing your cat’s commercial food with natural, home-prepared meals or if you are making a radical overhaul of his or her diet to create everything yourself, you must ease into the transition. You must also realize you may have to drag the cat along with you. The most difficult obstacle you will have is not in finding the proper foods, finding the time to prepare them, or finding the storage area in your freezer to keep the foods. It may just be in convincing him or her that it is a good idea.
After all, your tom is a rather particular individual. He has finicky tastes about food and has exacting demands regarding the dining environment. Why on earth would your cat be expected to accept radical changes to his or her diet without putting up a classic feline front? You can make it easier on your cat — and yourself — if you take into account his or her lovable steadfastness, and start slow, go slow, and end slow. Start by offering one new food a day. Make those initial attempts to change your cat’s diet by first providing something meat-based, something that will appeal to your cat’s incredible sense of smell. A spoonful of boiled, chopped chicken livers will make a good first nibble. You can mix it into canned food, or if he or she seems particularly drawn to the smell, try serving it solo in his or her dish. Increase the number of natural foods each day while weaning him or her off old foods until you have reached your goal of either supplementing commercial foods or replacing them completely.
If you are planning on a complete makeover of your cat’s diet, going from all commercial foods to all home-prepared meals, you should expect the transition to take anywhere from three weeks to two months, depending on his or her will and digestive system. Smaller cats will need a slower change than larger cats, as their intestinal tract will be even shorter, which gives the food less time to break down, making the cats more prone to discomfort. You should wait to incorporate nutritional supplements, such as omega-3 oils, eggshells, and vitamins, only after you have completely made the switch.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when making any changes to your cat’s diet is to discuss everything with your veterinarian. The veterinarian may want to monitor your cat’s progress and may even have suggestions for particular foods or nutrients he or she feels your cat needs. But you should also be prepared for your veterinarian to be concerned about your desire to feed your cat an all-natural diet. The vet will want to be certain you are taking into account your cat’s nutritional needs and sensitive gastrointestinal tract as you make changes to his or her diet.
Always stay on the lookout for food reactions. Aside from feline finickiness, you must also remember your cat has a very sensitive digestive system. If he or she exhibits any sort of the change in behavior after eating new foods, it may be a sign he or she is not tolerating them well. Signs of an allergic reaction may include swelling around the eyes and difficulty breathing. If your cat is having difficulty digesting the foods, his or her stomach may be bloated, and he or she may act like it hurts when you touch. Other symptoms to look for include rumbling sounds from the abdomen, gas, loose or watery stools, constipation, and lethargy.
If you suspect your cat is having a difficult time digesting the food, and you are sure it is not an allergic reaction, you may consider giving the system a few days to recover before offering it again. The second time, feed him or her less of it. It may simply have been an issue of trying too much too soon. But some- times the second time food is given to an animal, the reaction worsens. If symptoms persist with a smaller amount of food, do not give it to him or her anymore. And of course, if symptoms do not improve, or actually worsen, seek the advice of your veterinarian. Do not think that the cat will quit eating something because he or she is having a problem with it. Some cats will continue to eat food they cannot tolerate if they like the taste well enough, so you cannot judge their intestinal fortitude by their epicurean behavior.