How to switch sick kitty from dry to wet food?
August 20, 2004 4:52 AM   Subscribe

Sick-Kitty-Filter. Has anyone here had success in switching a cat from their favorite dry food to a prescription canned food? Any tips would be greatly appreciated...more inside...

Here is a little background: My 1 year old male cat, Smacky, has been showing symptoms of FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease) for the past few months, and on Tuesday he was fully blocked and had to spend 2 nights at the vet while recovering.

Now I am supposed to feed him a prescription canned food, S/D, for a month before switching him to a different prescription canned food, C/D. I have read so much about how dry food may be related to FLUTD that I have badly wanted to get him onto canned anyway...but he just does not seem to recognize it as "food". He sees it, sniffs it in digust, and storms away. I also have to lock him up when I feed the other healthy cat or else he will gorge on her dry food.

I've tried the tricks most cat websites recommend - making a "gravy" out of meat-flavor baby food, putting a tiny bit in his mouth so he can taste it (which results in me wearing the bit of food), warming it a tiny bit in the microwave so it's not cold mush when he eats it...

If you have any suggestions, any at all, please let me know, because I'm desperate. He has proven that he will starve himself for quite some time on stubbornness, so I am not comfortable just letting him wait until he's so hungry that he will eat it, especially since he has been sick.
posted by catfood to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
Has the vet nixed the idea of introducing the wet food into the dry food, in increasing proportions of wet to dry? This is the general rule of thumb when trying to introduce anything new to a cat (litter, food, other cats): start with little, and go from there.

But if the vet thinks it's urgent to stop feeding Smacky the dry food, I don't know what to suggest. Good luck.
posted by stonerose at 5:38 AM on August 20, 2004

Response by poster: Unfortunately, my experience with trying to mix wet & dry is that Smacky will either just ignore the whole plate (maybe the wet food has tainted everything), or if he's desperate, will eat around the wet food to get out the crunchy chunks of dry food.

Mixing food has worked to switch him from one dry to another dry...but both of my cats just hate wet food for some reason. It is the most frustrating thing in the world.

Thank you for your advice, though, stonerose...I may try it again and cross my fingers. :-)
posted by catfood at 6:27 AM on August 20, 2004

ditto stonerose. I've been through it a few times and the trick is to start with small amounts of the wet mixed with his normal food and gradually over, say, 2 weeks keep upping the amount of wet until it is all wet. I just had to do this for a dog, switch her to a prescription food. Although honestly all of my dogs are pigs and eat anything that comes within tongue range. Def. talk to the vet though. His lack of eating could be worse than prolonging his switch. Maybe mix something like canned tuna into it so it is more appealing? (Is that a stereotype, that cats like canned tuna?)
posted by archimago at 6:30 AM on August 20, 2004

You can get dry S/D and C/D, too. I have my dog on a mixture of both the wet and the dry. Is this an option?
posted by archimago at 6:33 AM on August 20, 2004

Response by poster: archimago - i actually just called my vet & she just got a package of dry s/d in today so i am going to pick that up on my lunch break. we already have dry c/d which he loves, but the main problem is that my vet really wants him on wet food because his problem is exacerbated by the fact that he doesn't get enough liquids in, so the wet food could make a big difference in preventing future blockages.

well...i guess i will get the dry s/d and give him a little dry & a little wet and try to convert him that way.

do you think i should really mix the 2 together (in the past,t his just seems to digust him more) or put a tiny bit of each next to each other on his plate?

thanks for your advice!
posted by catfood at 7:04 AM on August 20, 2004

I've had problems getting fluids into cats, maybe moisten the dry food with water? If he likes that dry food, that may not be enough to turn him off of it. I still add water to my cat's moist food even now, to be sure to get extra fluids in her. Soup for cats!
posted by allpaws at 7:13 AM on August 20, 2004

I'm no vet, but perhaps you can figure out a way to get him to drink more water, like flavor the water with a little tuna juice or something. I actually house sat for a friend with a sick cat that I had to literally use an eye dropper to force water into his throat, which involved a whole drama of me catching the cat in a blanket so that it didn't claw the shit out of me. It was not a pretty week. I'm thinking if you put the foods side by side, you know he's going to completely ignore the wet food. If you mix them together, at least he'll eat the dry and mayeb eventually just accept it. Maybe it's more a matter of breaking his stubborn spirit. I'm not saying pull a Mommie Dearest and make him eat the same wet food from 3 days ago, but if he's smart he may eventually realize that things are just going to be this way now.
posted by archimago at 7:58 AM on August 20, 2004

Other companies--Eukanuba, Waltham, Royal Canin--have prescription foods too that your cat might like better. Your vet may not carry them, but others do and your vet should be able to point you in the right direction. I think you can also order them online.

Also, I've read about this solution for when people have to feed different animals different diets and one food is much more desirable than the other. Install a selective cat flap, as mentioned in this thread, in an interior door so only the cat on the regular diet is allowed access to the food. I have also seen where people couldn't do that so they built a large box with a selective cat flap entrance and kept the tasty food in there. (The top of the box was hinged for human access.)

And to improve fluid intake, I really recommend one of these Drinkwell pet fountains. (Lots of places sell them.) Cats instinctively like running water. Try moving their water away from where you feed them. Instinct again makes them prefer a water source clear of their food. (Of course, there are always exceptions.)
posted by lobakgo at 9:29 AM on August 20, 2004

I know nothing about this topic, but just wanted to note that your username seemed particularly apropos.
posted by Vidiot at 10:06 AM on August 20, 2004

No advice on the food, but trying to increase fluid intake in other ways is also a great idea, as was suggested. Our kitty never drank her water, and it was distressing. Then one day in the winter, I put a pot of water in the bedroom to allow it to evaporate and add some humidity. The cat was all over it, and now we just refill that all the time, and it's her main drinking source (unless we leave the toilet seat down by accident). Try experimenting with different bowls (some cats hate plastic, for example) in different locations, and try refilling them 2-3 times a day - some cats are extraordinarily fussy about freshness.

The tuna water idea is great too. Whenever I open a can of tuna, I drain the water into a separate bowl and give it to the kitty. She loves it and will drink it all up.

Good luck!
posted by livii at 10:13 AM on August 20, 2004

Response by poster: thanks everyone for your advice -

right now i have a bag of dry s/d and smacky is eating it happily. i'm going to start mixing in tiny amounts of canned over time and see if that tricks him into eating it.

lobakgo - we brought a drinkwell fountain right after smacky started having urinary tract issues and he does like to drink from it more than his old water bowl, but he also likes to play in it and drink with his foot so i have no idea how much water he actually gets into his face that way.

with regards to different brands - smacky likes the hill's well enough, he just doesn't like any canned food at this point in time. he seems to find the dry c/d absolutely scrumptious though, and so does his healthy sister.

vidiot - lol, i noticed that too after posting the thread ... i wonder if picking this username doomed me to a lifetime of difficulties with cat food.

thanks again, everyone...i guess it will be trial & error for awhile.
posted by catfood at 10:14 AM on August 20, 2004

Response by poster: livii - that's an interesting idea, having other water sources in other rooms so he can see what he likes best. he loves to play in his drinkwell fountain as i mentioned before, but maybe if i station another water bowl in another room where he hangs out he will also drink from that. it's certainly worth a shot.

also, while the tuna water idea makes me gag, it's certainly worth a shot since otherwise it just goes down the drain. :-)

posted by catfood at 10:15 AM on August 20, 2004

If your cat really just doesn't want to drink water, you might ask your vet about the possibility of learning to give your cat subcutaneous fluids via lactated ringers to help avoid dehydration. I'm a vet assistant, and we have a few owners who regularily give their cats fluids at home. Just an idea
posted by mabelcolby at 9:34 PM on August 20, 2004

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