Introducing a new food

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Now that your kitten is nearly a full grown cat you should start to think about transitioning her from her regular kitten food, to a more grown-up food more suited to her needs.

A new food should always be introduced gradually, even if your kitten or cat appears to like it. This will help reduce the chance of her developing a stomach upset following the food change.

Changes to diet affect different animals in different ways, so it is important to manage the change carefully.

In general, cats are creatures of habit. Your cat may require some help changing foods, especially if she is used to having just a single type of food. Another reason would be if she is used to a varied diet, but the vet has advised that she should have a special food for a clinical reason, - for example, allergy, kidney disease or the need to lose weight.

You might like to try some of the following suggestions to ease the transition between foods:

• Gradually introduce a new food over 7 days.

• Increase the proportion of the new food each day, at the same time decreasing the proportion of the previous food until at the end of a week you are feeding the full amount of the new food.

• If necessary to increase acceptance, when you are using canned food, warm the new food to body temperature, but no hotter. Most cats will prefer canned food slightly warm as it can improve the smell and the feel in the mouth

• Avoid feeding chilled foods

• If necessary, change the texture of canned food by adding a small amount of warm water to soften it and make it easier to mix the old and new food types together

• Don't be tempted to add human food titbits to the new diet. Most cats will end up eating the human food instead and this can develop into a bad habit long term

• For very fussy or finicky eaters, try hand feeding the new food as a treat. This will reinforce the positive bond between the owner, cat and the new food.

• Keep a bowl of clean fresh water available at all times.

• No cat should be starved whilst trying to introduce a new food.

• If you are really struggling to change your cat's food, speak to your veterinary surgeon or nurse to see if they have any extra behavioural tips to help you.

If your cat needs a change in food to help manage a medical condition it is important to follow any advice given by your veterinary surgeon. Appetite can be affected by disease, so speak to your vet to see whether there is any special feeding advice for your cat.

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