Should You Change Your Cat’s Food?

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
Your cat seems to be ignoring his regular meal – is it a sign that you should change his food? Here’s what you need to know before making the switch.

Cats are known for being picky eaters, and switching foods too abruptly may lead to digestive upset, so pet parents sometimes find it easier to feed their kitties the same food, perhaps even for the pet’s entire life.

Even though picking a high quality pet food can be a tedious process, there are times in your cat’s life when switching his food would be advised. A feline’s nutritional needs could change over time as activity levels decrease, overall health changes, and your pet enters a new life stage.

Here are a few signs that indicate a change of food is in order. If you have any questions regarding your cat’s nutritional needs or what the best food is for your particular kitty, especially if he has a health condition, consult with your vet.

Related: What Is Feline Whisker Fatigue?

Carrying Too Much Weight

Your vet will help you determine if your cat needs to lose some weight. If that’s the case, s/he may recommend switching your kitty’s food to one that’s designed specifically for weight loss and management. This type of food will give your kitty all of the nutrients he needs to thrive, but will come with fewer calories.

Poor Quality Coat and/or Itchiness

Your cat’s fur should be soft, shiny, and clean, and his skin shouldn’t be itchy or irritated. If you notice that your kitty’s coat is becoming dull and flaky, look for a food that’s rich in fatty acids. These nutrients could keep the skin and coat healthy, so read labels to look for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the formulation.

If your cat is itchy, consult your vet to determine the cause. One culprit may be allergies, including food allergies. No matter what the cause is, you can search for a low-allergen food that will reduce the level of potential allergens that your kitty’s body will be exposed to. For example, there are sensitive skin diets available, as well as prescription diets that your vet can recommend.

Related: How Much Should I Feed My Cat?

Tummy Troubles

Have you been noticing that your cat has flatulence, loose stool, or even a rumbling tummy on a chronic basis? These symptoms could be the result of low quality food or food intolerance. Talk to your vet to rule out other causes and to be certain that a diet change is in order. Premium diets and those designed for sensitive stomachs might be what your cat needs to feel better.

A Lack of Energy

If your cat is showing signs of weakness or lethargy, a trip to the vet is necessary to determine the cause and make sure your kitty is healthy. Illness, surgery, and stress can also make your cat tired. Your vet may recommend switching to a diet that has higher levels of antioxidants, which can assist in boosting your pet’s immune system.

Your Cat Is a Senior

If your kitty is a senior, his nutrient requirements will be different than when he was younger, so your vet may recommend a food that’s formulated specifically for older cats. These foods typically have fewer calories, higher levels of fiber, and ingredients that support the health of a senior kitty, such as antioxidants and joint support supplements.

The Three Life Stages

If you have a kitten, a food designed for the kitten life stage will promote healthy growth. These foods contain higher levels of protein and calories to meet the nutritional requirements of your growing pet.

Adult cat food will be formulated to benefit fully grown kitties who no longer need all of the extra nutrition found in kitten formulas. The balance of calories and nutrients in these foods will help prevent an adult cat from becoming overweight or obese, especially if he isn’t very active. A food that’s labeled “all life stage” may end up giving your pet excessive amounts of nutrients and fat because it’s also formulated for kittens, so stick with labels that state “adult maintenance.”

A senior kitty with or without medical issues may benefit from foods designed for older cats. Talk to your vet about the best food to feed your kitty, especially if he has mobility issues or chronic conditions, such as those affecting the heart or kidneys.

Even though switching your cat’s food might be a hassle, remember that nutrition plays a big role in overall health, not only for people, but also for pets, so it will be worth the effort. Talk to your vet to be sure you’re making the best choices for your unique kitty.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

More by Lisa Selvaggio