How to get my rescue kitty off wet food?
October 4, 2006 9:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to get my six to nine month old rescue kitten off wet food, but its just not working with the usuals. I've had her for 3 weeks now. Difficulty: 20 year old prima-donna feline housemate who needs wet, but now enjoys kittenchow.

So my vet says my new girl is six to nine months old, luckily healthy (well, bad knees, but that's a future thread.) She will not work her way to dry food. I've done the mixing of wet and dry, with the intent to eventually wean her off wet completely. She, in typical feline fashion, will have no part of it.

Do I really have to go tough love, and leave her with dry only (eventually? ) And completely block off each cat's feedings, something I'm not really comfy with with a 20 year old.

How to break a cat of wet food?

Cold turkey, isnt it?
posted by verytres to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
Wet food, if it's high quality (not Friskies, Iams, etc.) is healthier for cats. Leave a bowl of kitty kibble in a place where the kitten can reach it but your senior cat doesn't go. Kittens and senior cats have different nutritional needs too, so the same wet food probably isn't good for both cats. Enough to drive you nuts, these feline freeloaders, eh?
posted by lois1950 at 10:48 PM on October 4, 2006

Response by poster: I was always taught dry food was better for teeth maintenance, in the long run. Wrong?
posted by verytres at 12:31 AM on October 5, 2006

Wet food is better in the long run for kidney and urinary tract health. That dry food is great for teeth is also a myth.
posted by tastybrains at 4:33 AM on October 5, 2006

Also, just wanted to note that cats typically want to keep eating what they are used to & like. I also used to think dry food was better, and after one of my cats had some serious urinary tract blockages, and we desperately wanted to get him eating wet food at the vet's urging, neither cat would switch without some major kitty drama.

You can't win with pleasing these guys. ;-) My vet suggests using dry food as treats and wet food as a regular diet. Maybe you want to find a dry food made for dental health so that your "treats" are specially designed for their teeth (regular dry food isn't really crunchy enough to clean teeth - it falls apart too easily when it's being eaten).
posted by tastybrains at 4:37 AM on October 5, 2006

Do I really have to go tough love, and leave her with dry only (eventually? )

That will work. You'll have to tough out a few-day period where she'll check her food bowl, and then look up at you with sad sad eyes, but she'll grow to love it eventually if you're strong.
posted by The Michael The at 5:06 AM on October 5, 2006

lois1950 and tastybrains are correct, wet food is better (as long as it's decent quality, as lois1950 rightly points out), and it's especially better for older cats. There is no evidence that dry food does anything at all to help the teeth, and in fact some evidence that it's worse for the teeth (think about how much a dry cracker sticks to your teeth vs. how much oatmeal sticks to your teeth). Aside from foods specifically designed to reduce tartar (like Hill's t/d, which, like all Hill's products, contains lousy ingredients that I would never feed a pet of mine), dry food isn't doing anything to help. Wet food is better.

And please do NOT go the "tough love" route, cats are one of the few animals which will starve themselves into serious illness (something a 20 year old cat cannot handle) or even death. Tough love works with dogs, it's risky with cats, and I frankly see no reason to use tough love on a 20 year old cat for ANY reason, especially not one who simply wants to eat the food she likes, which also happens to be better for her.
posted by biscotti at 5:20 AM on October 5, 2006

Oops, sorry, got the cats the wrong way around, the 20 year old already eats canned food. I'd still just feed the kitten a decent canned food (Felidae, Innova, Wellness, etc.) and forget about the kibble.
posted by biscotti at 5:22 AM on October 5, 2006

Sounds like the wet food you're feeding is great, but for others who might have this question, here's a resource I've found helpful. It's focused towards cats with diabetes but is useful for non-diabetics as well. In general, you want to choose wet food that is low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Dry food is high in carbs (and filler) and can cause diabetes, as well as problems with their teeth and urinary tract. Friskies and Iams aren't horrible for cats but they are a lower quality, so if you can afford better do so. It'll save on vet bills in the long run.

You're lucky that your cats want to eat wet food! Mine are the same way, but a lot of people report that their cats love the dry and refuse to switch. It's best to get them started early on wet like you are.
posted by coffeespoons at 6:23 AM on October 5, 2006

i had a similar problem, but our rescues who we are fostering have not yet had their FIV shots so I can't let them have contact with our 2 housecats. they are in a room all to themselves, caged for part of the day. they had some bloody stool at first with the kittenchow but i switched to a more expensive friskies wet kitten stuff in packets, mixed that and slowly as they got bigger weaned them to a 25% wet / 75% dry diet and they seem fine.

Your problem is tougher, since they're eating together ... I really don't think there's an easy way to solve it unless they eat separately and don't have access to each other's food.

as someone says above, if you really can put something where the other cat won't get to it, go that route, but that sounds difficult.

as for the wet vs. dry argument - every vet i've talked to says there's no evidence either way (and i've asked three, plus an animal dietician at ucd vet school - she said all the studies showing wet food is better were paid for by the wet food makers), but i know my cats are FAR more regular with dry and eat about 3/4 the weight of food (at about 20% the cost!) if i feed them very high-quality dry food (nutro light or nutro indoor for 2x 9 yr old cats). with wet food they get diarrhea on and off, throw up more and make a mess, plus i can't afford wet food of the same quality as nutro.
posted by luriete at 10:06 AM on October 5, 2006

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