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Introducing Therapeutic Diets in Cats
It comes as no surprise to cat owners that cats do not like to be told what to do. There are many pitfalls to introducing a new food to a cat, especially a food designed to prevent or improve a specific condition or disease process.
Cats are not dogs. Many times with dogs or our children, when introducing a new food, we exercise “tough love”, meaning we leave the food in their dish or plate until they eat it. This may go on for hours or days. Cats however always require a positive caloric intake or their metabolism can literally fight back. Cats should always have food available that they are willing to eat. In order to stack the odds in favor of the new therapeutic diet, we recommend the following guidelines:
We can add years to the life of your cat if we can adjust their nutrition to accommodate diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, gastrointestinal disease, allergies, heart disease, and liver disease. Great strides have been made in nutritional therapeutics and for many cat owners it remains the KEY to what we can do to extend the life of our special companion.
- Do not change the location or amount of their existing diet available; at least at first.
- Offer small amounts (2 to 4 tbsp) of the new therapeutic food in a separate dish, located 10 to 12 inches or more from their current diet.
- Do not mix the new food with the old food. If the cat does not like the odor of the new food, they will refuse their old food as well, embarking on a course of “anorexia”.
Try a variety of acceptable therapeutic foods. Many prescription diets are available in canned and dry, different flavors, and different manufacturers. You can provide a smorgasbord of a few dishes with new food items, and let your cat decide.
- Warm a chilled canned diet in the microwave for 10 seconds to intensify the aroma.
- Offer the new food on a plate or in a special dish.
- Freshen the new diet at least twice daily to attract your cat.
- Some cats, who are not used to canned diets, think that they are disgusting. It is difficult to get a cat to change its mind. You may need to fall back to the dry alternative.
- Some cats will not eat a therapeutic diet because it was introduced in the hospital setting; they associate the experience with the food. Ask the doctor for another alternative.
- If your cat decides that the new food is completely out of the question, remember that a positive caloric intake is a must. Keep your cat eating their current diet, and discuss alternatives with their doctor.
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