• Jen Van de Kieft

How to Transition Your Stubborn Dry Food Only Cat to Wet or Raw Food

Updated: Feb 9

Getting your cat off of dry food can take persistence. Keep trying different foods and techniques.

My cat, Abby (pictured below), ate mostly dry food until the last year of her life when she decided to start eating wet food. Her veterinarian prescribed a fiber dry food since she did experience constipation. Many consider wet food better quality. It often has a higher amount of protein and lower carbohydrates compared with dry food. In addition, the high water content provides hydration since many cats do not drink enough water.

I feed both wet and dry food to my cats. To encourage eating the wet food, I don’t put the kibble out until the wet food is eaten, whenever possible. I also put the kibble in puzzle feeders so they have to work for it. For cats that have only been eating dry food, prepare for a potentially very slow transition (possibly months) as cats are resistant to change and need time to adjust.

Tips for switching or adding wet or raw food to your cat’s diet:

  • If you are free feeding dry, you will have to change to scheduled feeding times in order for your cat to be hungry and motivated to try the wet food;

  • Prior to feeding, exercise your cat with a wand toy to increase his desire to eat;

  • Although your cat may not seem interested right away, patience is key. Keep offering wet food, allowing cats to get used to its different smell and texture;

  • Experiment with different wet food brands to find your cat’s preferences;

  • Warming up wet food may make it more appealing;

  • Try different textures. Some cats like pate while others prefer minced or sliced.

  • Cover a teaspoon of wet food with the regular dry food. If this works, gradually increase the amount of wet food as you decrease the amount of dry food;

  • Sprinkle wet food with fish oil, tuna, cooked chicken breast, Parmesan cheese, favorite treats, or FortiFlora.

Some advice out there is to keep your cat hungry and keep trying wet food. My philosophy is to keep it low stress. A cat eating, even if it’s dry food, is preferred over missing meals. Don’t give up. Dry food eaters may change their preference for wet food on their own terms, like Abby did. In the meantime, encourage water consumption by providing non-plastic water bowls, cleaned daily, and kept away from food. Water fountains may encourage drinking.

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