Q: Our 1-year-old Maine Coon cat, Meatball, ate only dry cat food when we got her. After a few tries to find a wet food she would eat, she began to eat a quarter can of food each day, along with dry food.
Recently we had an interview to adopt another cat so Meatball could have a companion. When we told them what we feed Meatball, they were shocked that we gave her so much more dry food than wet food. They said we should wean her off the dry and instead feed two cans of wet food per day for optimal health.
Any advice on how we can get her to healthily transition to a diet primarily of wet food?
A: I don’t think you’ll find any consensus among veterinarians in regard to which type of food is truly the best for cats. Dry food helps reduce tartar buildup on the teeth, but dry food tends to be very caloric and can put cats at risk for weight gain. Canned food is recommended for cats who are predisposed to urinary tract problems, constipation problems, or obesity. A few cats become very accustomed to the particular form of the food, and getting them to switch can be very difficult; it’s as if they’ve become addicted to that particular form of cat food. My own cats simply do not like any canned food I’ve ever offered them, preferring their boring dry food over everything else.
I personally think a combination of canned cat food and dry cat food is ideal. If you want to alter the proportion of canned to dry for Meatball, here’s the method I recommend to switch a cat from dry to wet food.
1. Compress feeding times. For example, instead of leaving dry food down all the time for them to eat, make the dry food available for only four hours, twice daily for a few days. Then, three hours twice daily, then two hours, then one, and finally for only 30 minutes twice daily.
2. Train to eat at mealtimes. Call your cat to the food when it is put out, so the cat is trained to eat at mealtimes. This could take three or four weeks.
3. Feed canned food along with dry food. Once your cat is trained to eat at mealtimes, gradually increase the proportion of canned to dry. The key word here is gradual. If you follow this technique, most cats can be transitioned to a mostly canned diet.