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Feeding Time: Selecting the Right Food for Your New Cat

You just adopted your new cat, and she’s already stolen your heart. You want her to live a long, happy life in the comfort of your home, so it makes sense to start your life together with the best nutrition possible. But how do you choose the right food?

First, think about whether to keep her on her current food or switch to a new one. Before you take your cat home, ask the adoption organization what type of cat food she has been eating. If it is a product you trust, and your cat has been thriving on it, there may be no need to change her diet. In fact, offering her the same food she’s accustomed to may be a comfort to her during this stressful time.

If you do choose to switch to a new cat food, there are a few factors to consider when searching for the right one:

How old is she? Cats do best on complete and balanced foods that are formulated for their life stage. For example, kittens are very energetic and grow quickly, so they require more protein, fat and calories than adult cats. They also benefit from DHA, a nutrient found in mothers’ milk, to help support vision and brain development. You may also want to introduce them to different food formats, like wet and dry, so they become more flexible in their diet. That way, if they need to change diets later in life, your cat will be open to that change. Senior cats also have specific nutritional requirements, like vitamins and minerals for strong bones and joints.

How active is she? Sedentary cats don’t burn as much energy as active ones, so they don’t need as much protein or calories. If you adopted an adult cat that’s overweight, look for a formula labeled “Healthy Weight”, “Weight Control”, “Indoor” or similar names.

What ingredients are important to you? Once you’ve found a complete and balanced formula that fits your new cat’s life stage and activity level, turn the bag over and read the ingredients list. All ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. What kind of protein does it contain, and where is protein in the list? Which vitamins and minerals are in it? If you have questions about an ingredient, call the number listed on the food package, or call your veterinarian.

Still can’t decide? Reach out to others for advice or recommendations. Your veterinarian, trusted friends and family members can be helpful resources.

Once you’ve purchased a new food, gradually introduce it to your cat over 4-5 days to avoid digestive upset. Each day, give her a little more of the new food and less of the old food, until she’s only eating the new food.

On behalf of your cat, thanks for giving her the best start with proper nutrition. Keep up the great work!

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