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When to Switch Cat Food

As your cat grows and changes, her nutritional needs change, too. How do you know when to switch your cat’s food? Let our feline nutrition experts help you decide when and how to make the switch.

Switching from a Kitten to Adult Formula

Is your kitten approaching adult size? It happens in the blink of an eye. While your kitten may look larger than she did a few months ago, she may still benefit from the specialized nutrition in kitten formulas, like high protein to fuel her energetic, growing body. The best time to switch your kitten to an adult formula is when she stops growing. This generally happens around one year. The only exception is larger breed cats, like the Maine Coon, who don’t reach full adult size until 18 months to two years. Before you switch, ask your veterinarian if the time is right for your kitten to start eating an adult formula.

Switching to a Healthy Weight Formula

Like us, cats’ metabolisms slow down as they age, which can lead to weight gain. Overweight or obese cats are at a much higher risk for serious health problems like diabetes, liver disease and arthritis, and it may shorten their life spans. It’s very important to make sure your cat gets enough exercise and the right nutrition to maintain an ideal body condition. If your cat gains weight and you can no longer feel her ribs, see your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes and talk about switching to a weight control formula with fewer calories.

Switching from an Adult to Senior Formula

Cats between the ages of seven and 11 are considered seniors. This is the stage when metabolisms slow down the most. If you have a senior cat, she may benefit from a formula with fewer calories and higher fiber to help maintain a healthy weight. Cats over age 11 are considered geriatric. These cats may have trouble digesting fat and protein, which can lead to weight loss. Cats of this age tend to do well on formulas with high levels of highly-digestible protein.

Switching Due to a Health Issue

Did you know that there are special formulas that can help cats with chronic urinary tract issues, sensitive skin and stomachs, and even excessive hairballs? If your cat experiences any of these or other recurring health problems, talk to your veterinarian about what other diet options may be appropriate for your pet.

How to Switch Foods

Too much variety or switching foods too quickly can cause digestive upset in cats. The best way to switch your cat’s food is to do it slowly. This also helps your cat get used to the new taste, so she doesn’t outright refuse it. Transition your cat to her new food gradually over the course of seven to ten days. Each day, mix in a little more of her new food and less of her current food, until she’s only eating the new food. She may still experience some digestive discomfort, and she may still be finicky about the new food, but over time her stomach and taste buds should adjust.

Before making a change to your cat’s diet, consult your veterinarian and research your options. Giving your cat the right food to support her changing body is one of the most important things you can do to help ensure that she lives a long, healthy life.

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