Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Changing a Cat's Food

Changing a cats food can be tough. Many cats are very picky, finicky eaters. Some do not like it when you change their kibble, even if it is the same brand but a different shape of kibble, it can throw your cat into a revolt. Luckily Bella and Sophie are pretty laid back about their food. Bella for obvious reasons you may have noticed, has no problem eating whatever is set before her. She belongs to the clean bowl club and eats every meal within 5.2 seconds of receiving it. Sophie is a bit picky, she is a nibbler. She can eat 1/4 of a serving and comfortably walk away, no worries that it might not be there later. When she feels a little twinge in her tummy she goes back for a little more. Why are they so different? Bella was a stray before she ended up at the humane society. She would have spent time hunting for food and I would bet there were days she was forced to go without when she couldn't find anything to pounce on.

Sophie was rescued from a man who found her all alone when she was about 4 weeks old. He brought her to the humane society where she was fostered with a worker who had a cat with kittens. This mama cat graciously took her in for the next 4 weeks until I could adopt her. Sophie has never been without food, why would she think there was anything to worry about. Belle thinks I don't know where my next meal is coming from so I'm eating this one as fast as I can. Despite 7 years of never missing a meal while living with me she still thinks there is some risk that I will suddenly not feed her.

Now I really don't know if this is what they think, it is what I think is one possible explanation for the way they are. It has made feeding over the years tricky as Bella gulps her food down and then moves over to Sophie's bowl to finish off what she has left. Which is why they used to and sometimes still do eat in their crates.

Since Bella is on the heavy side I really wanted to get some weight off of her. She wasn't feeling well, not moving much as some joint issues were starting to show. So they are in the process of going raw. Cats are obligate carnivours so there is no reason to feed them kibble at all. We have dabbled in raw feeding before. Small chunks of chicken breast cut up. Bella liked it but Sophie wouldn't go near her bowl.

We are now following this process. First, I got them off their kibble completely and they were eating canned 100%. Then I found a great little Pet Store that specializes in whole foods for pets. They sell straight raw ground with bones or raw ground with supplements so it is a complete meal. They also have cooked with veggies etc. There is rabbit, duck, cornesh game hen, chicken and much more to choose from.

Apparently, rabbit is one of the favorite foods of many cats. So we are starting with that. Once they are on the rabbit completely then we will introduce a second protein source. I want to get them eating about three different protein sources so that I can rotate. That way if one species isn't available I can just switch it out for something else.

We started with their normal rations of canned for the day with 1 tsp of rabbit mixed into each meal. We are on week two and they both love it. This week we are adding 2 tsps of rabbit and cutting their old food out by about the same amount.

All is going great. Best of all, Bella is looking so much better already. She is moving around a lot more, she has lost a little weight, she is climbing on more things more often. Her fur is soft and silky and the biggest change I noticed is her eyes look so bright and clear. I never noticed before how they looked, but obviously there has been a change, all in about a month and half since we started the switch to canned only and now raw.

The only drawback is Reese gets very jeolous when the cats get the "good food" and she gets the nasty dry crap. Actually I have started topping her food off this week with some raw chicken, don't want her left out. Plus I think it will be great for her too.

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