Cat Eating From Tube

Eating good quality canned food is much better for our kitties’ health than dry food.  All dry cat food has a low moisture content and contains carbohydrates (this is how it is formulated). Cats’ bodies are not made to process carbohydrates and cats do not drink much water as, in the wild, they get their moisture from the prey that they eat (prey that also doesn’t have carbohydrates).  This is the reason that we have a problem with obesity, urinary, and kidney disease in our cats.  It used to be thought that dry food prevented dental disease in cats. It does not.  Just like eating apples helps people’s teeth stay cleaner but doesn’t prevent them from getting cavities, needing cleanings or having root canals. Eating dry food does not prevent dental disease in cats – brushing their teeth and annual professional cleanings does that. Cats who eat canned food as their primary or entire diet have leaner body weight, feel fuller and beg less, have better muscling and are more hydrated.  Many cat health problems are managed well with prescription canned food diets and that can really cut down on the amount of medications that they need.  If we can get your kitty to enjoy canned food, we can make a real difference in their overall health!


Tricks to Help Transition Cats Who are Grazers to Meals and Canned Food

-Remember different tricks work for different kitties and that all cats will eventually eat canned food but they can be stubborn and sassy so you have to stay determined and patient as you know this is best for their health.

-For cats currently grazing free-choice dry food, take up the food and establish a schedule of morning and evening feedings by splitting the amount they normally eat into 2 meals. Put the first meal down and pick up whatever they haven’t eaten after 30 minutes. Then about 12 hours later, put the next meal down and leave it down for 30 minutes. In the beginning it is best to do twice-daily feedings when trying to transition them. A normal, healthy hunger response after 12 hours goes a long way to convince them to try something new – after we get them eating canned food, then it is best to eat 3 times a day. They will meow and beg at you the first week but as they get hungry and you put down the new food this gives you the best chance for success! If they are driving you crazy asking for food, this is when you put down a nice fresh spoon of the canned food that we want them to dry. Stubborn kitties will not touch it at first but if you stick with this for a week or so and they keep demanding snacks, they will eventually realize the canned food is the snack option they have and give it a try. For cats that were grazers, the first step is getting them to eat 2 dry food meals a day. Once they are excited about mealtimes then they are more likely to try something new like canned food because eating makes them excited again instead of it being something they just do here and there throughout the day.

-Once you have established scheduled mealtimes, you will most likely need to start feeding a bit less than the recommended amount at each mealtime in order to get the normal sensation of hunger to work in your favor. We are not trying to starve them, only trying to get them to feel a bit hungry so they are more likely to try something new. It is important that they eat at least 1/2 of the recommended amount every day to avoid problems with their liver. If they are eating 1/2 of the recommended volume and they eat again the next day we are on the right track. Our goal is them eating full recommended volume in 1-3 weeks as long as they are feeling well otherwise.

-Cats learning to eat canned food prefer it fresh, smelling good, chopped up with a fork, and maybe even slightly warmed for a better smell. When your kitty really loves canned food you can leave it out for a few hours (if they don’t finish it all) but it is best to get a feeder that keeps it fresh with ice packs if they don’t eat it all in one sitting. I prefer to give kitties 3 fresh meals of canned food a day that they eat all in one sitting.

-Once your cat is on a schedule of meal-feeding instead of free-feeding, it’s time to try replacing a full dry food meal with a canned food only meal. If they refuse to eat it – and the very stubborn ones won’t, try not to get frustrated – and do not put down dry food. Try some of the other tips listed below and if they still will not eat the canned food, let him get a bit hungrier. Offer the canned food again in a couple of hours or even leave it out. Some cats will be more apt to try something new if they keep walking by it and seeing/smelling it. If they are refusing the canned food still, do not offer that dry food for about 18 hrs, then if nothing has been eaten, put down 1/8 cup dry food with a spoon of canned food on it. If your kitty refuses that, give 1/4 cup of dry food and then dry again the next day.

Note: tips created from personal experience, client experience and adapted from Lisa Peirson DVM at

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The Healing Paws Veterinary Care promise is a thorough and kind experience. Taking the time to listen to you (and your pet) while being thorough in our examination, pain assessment and diagnostic testing means that we can find answers and solutions that keep your friend living longer and more comfortably.