​Food Transitioning for Kitty

Posted by Melissa for PetTest on Sep 24th 2020

​Food Transitioning for Kitty

So I am sure everyone is super bored with food talk, but we have one more, and I am going to drop that as a main subject for a while. We need some variety after all! However, this is for those finicky fur babies who like the food they have thank you very much and this new concoction you have come up with on your own (how DARE thee peasant!), is not satisfying to Kitty. They have all sorts of tricks to let you know they are not happy. The obvious choice is to snub the food entirely. If you already gave insulin, well that can be a problem. I had a cat once that would have a few bites of food, even if she did not like it at all, and let me know her disdain by calmly walking over to my carpet and regurgitating it as close to my feet as possible. (I will gather my cleaning tips for a future article.)

So what are you going to do with your sugar baby who is newly diagnosed or needs their diet tweaked to get their numbers in a healthier range, especially if they really like their current food? It depends. First, the type of food they are currently eating makes a difference. If Kitty is on dry food completely, you have a 50/50 shot. I have had some kitties that get their first taste of wet food and snub the carb-rich crunchy addictive food. I have had other that would not touch wet food without a sprinkle of dry food as a tempting garnish. The thing is, and I have said this before, there is something about the crunch. The carb content is higher as well which gives that immediate happy full feeling until the fast-acting carbs run out and it is crash and burn time. After THAT kind of meal (think American Thanksgiving), we all want a nap too, and it isn’t the stuff in the turkey okay – it’s the carbs in all the tasty stuff on the side (maybe partly the wine but that is a whole different story).

As far as the crunchy food goes, I prefer to try to eliminate it entirely. There is one brand of dry cat food that claims it is okay for sugar Kitty, but I have not tested it, so I cannot say one way or the other. Even if Kitty takes well to canned food right away, do not be surprised to find Kitty in their normal dry food area screaming like they are starving. Even with a healthy cat, this transition can be a battle of wills and a serious test of patience. If Kitty is used to exclusively crunchy food, they may see the canned food as a treat and still want their dry food. I am not one to cut them off completely from any food abruptly unless there is a serious acute problem. One, the cats can drive you absolutely nuts when they don’t have their expected food. Secondly, a transition time is easier on the digestive system. Many of my fur babies that needed a special diet had temporary but messy digestive issues when changing foods too quickly. So from dry to canned food, there are two basic ways to do this. You can feed a little dry food along with their new low carb food. This accomplishes two things: One they get used to being fed on a schedule and not having food available all the time which is also useful in getting the testing routine down. Two, this allows gradual removal of the carb-rich crunchy food in a way that is not so shocking to Kitty’s symptoms. For kitties that are used to having dry food available all the time, you can also choose to give the canned food on a schedule and gradually reduce the amount of dry food available until you are down to nothing. The first way is more efficient, but cats don’t care about that, and for some, it is a long, long process.

Transitioning from canned food to raw food is likely going to be easier unless Kitty is super into that flaked stuff. If you need a transition between, you can mix the canned and raw food together and gradually taper off the canned food. Make sure you match the meat types. No one wants lamb and seafood surprise. I think my way less picky dogs would snub that one… maybe. If you don’t want to mix them you can put them side by side. Continue to give less and less canned food. This can be a way to “jump start” Kitty’s appetite. On the other paw, there is also the Kitty that will only eat the canned food and snub the raw food because, hey, they have options! In that case, it is time to consider the cold turkey plan. I have had kitties take to this fine – food is food, and generally wet foods are more appealing to Kitties. However, when it comes to kitties, we know that she has her own ideas about how things are going to be, and you dear, are meant to divine and comply with her wishes. This can result in a lot of meowing, knocking stuff over, getting in your face, becoming a mobile tripping hazard, and a little claw just to prove a point! At this point, there is no consensus on how to handle. Some advice to let them be upset; they will eat it when they get hungry enough. Well, that really is not an option with sugar Kitty.

So while we need to get Kitty off of carb-rich food, it may not be something we can do in a day, a week, or a month. We can use before- and after-meal testing to keep a close eye on Kitty’s blood glucose levels as she transitions. You should do this with new foods anyway, so this will also serve to get Kitty used to the extra testing (along with lots of pets and some carb-free treats, of course).

Next week, we will address cleaning supplies and how to get that smell out of… well almost anything (just in case the food thing goes awry.)

Until then, the Feline Diabetes Support Group on FB is always available for support for questions, venting, and all things sugar Kitty. They have food information all over the place, and members who have probably tried most things.