Transitioning Charlie and Trigg from Dry Food to Wet Food Only

| December 28, 2011 | 23 Comments
Charlie eating wet food

Charlie eating wet food

The whole “what to feed your cat” debate will forever go on.  I have come to the conclusion that what you feed your cat has to be what you’re comfortable with, what your budget is and also what your life is like – it has to work for everyone.

I still would like to try out this wet cat food sampler from Luke’s to figure out the perfect wet food situation for us – it’s a constant balance of figuring it out.

After reading about chronic renal failure when Rags was dying, I decided that when I got new kittens I would only feed them wet food.  I failed at that.  I gave Charlie and Trigg dry food and wet food up until they were about 1.5 years old.

I then read the article on Dr. Lisa A. Pierson, DVM’s website, www.catinfo.org, again about the importance of not feeding dry food to cats, and decided it was time for the big transition.

My boyfriend, who is a teacher, has lengthy periods of free time, so over his spring break, I asked him to help me with the transition process – here’s what he put together based off of the information he found on Dr. Pierson’s website.  This transition happened in March 2011.

Transitioning Feline Dry Food Addicts to Canned Food

Things to keep in mind

  • Canned food is MUCH better for the health of our cats (Protein, Carbs, and Water Content)
  • Transition process takes time, patience, and often times tricks.
  • Pet  food companies do not play fair, they coat their kibble with sprays to attract animal taste, creating an addiction in the process.
  • Making the change is more important than the speed in which it occurs
  • The single biggest mistake people make is to panic and fill up a bowl with dry food
  • It is healthy and desirable to have a normal sensation of hunger.
  • Do not withhold food for more than 24 hours, no food for 48 hours can be dangerous for an overweight cat (after 18 hours give approximately ¼ cup (or less) of dry food).
  • Most cats will lose weight during the transition.
  • Exercising your cat before mealtimes can stimulate his appetite.
  • DON’T GIVE UP– all cats will eventually eat canned food if their caregiver is determined, methodical, and patient enough.

Tricks

  • Increase water intake with flavored water (Tuna water, beef or chicken broth, clam juice, etc…)
  • Heat to “mouse body” temperature
  • Establish set mealtimes
  • When Charlie is excessively annoying about food, do not hesitate putting him in another room.
  • Turn the feeding of dry food into a game (play fetch with it).  Dry food only comes with exercise!
  • Try dipping dry food in canned food juices.

Facts

  • Average cat eats 4-6 ounces of canned food per day split between 2-3 meals.
  • Caloric needs of a cat range from 150-250 calories a day,

SCHEDULE
7:00am

  • 3 oz (1 can) of wet food for each Charlie and Trigg
  • Leave wet food out until next meal time
  • Try playing games for ¼ of dry food if still not eating.

7:00pm
•    3 oz (1 can) of wet food for each Charlie and Trigg.
•    Leave wet food out overnight.
•    After 30 minutes, if Charlie still hasn’t eaten much, put out ¼ cup of dry food.
•    Pick up dry food at 8:00pm.

CALORIE COUNT

  • Fancy Feast Fish & Shrimp Feast    3 oz (1 can)    90 Calories
  • Purina Pro Plan Select            3 oz (1 can)    95 Calories
  • Blue Wilderness            3 oz (1 can)    135 Calories
  • Blue Wilderness Dry            ¼ Cup        150 Calories
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D        ¼ Cup        70 Calories
  • Wellness Indoor Health Dry        ¼ Cup        120 Calories

I ended up tracking this process more poorly than I had originally planned, so I only made one video during the process.  Here it is:

I am a big fan of the results of doing this – the only thing I am not crazy about is that Charlie has lost some of the depth of color in his coat – I am not sure yet if this is because of his food or the temperature from this summer.  But I am ready for him to be as dark as he was before.

Charlie and Trigg are now at their ideal weights and the vet is pleased with their shape. Charlie has a lot more confidence in his jumping ability and doesn’t “miss” when he jumps.

Exercise really builds their appetite, and when we come in from outside (please know the outside thing is controversial, I know, but that’s where they get the most exercise) they are ready to eat.

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About the Author ()

Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Cat Poop Talk | February 17, 2012
  1. Michelle Spayde says:

    Good for you! My guys get a minimum of 3 wet food meals a day (usually 4-5). I’m also looking at moving towards a raw/partial raw diet.

    There are several brands of canned food that my cats will not touch, so just experiment until you find something they both love. An absolute favorite around here is Fromm!

  2. Hi Jen,

    Dr Lisa is great – but there are many opinions out there now – and happily a lot more options for healthier foods.

    Morgan has lived on Fancy Feast all of his life – and I recently added in ProPlan cans, and the Doc now lets him have Evo dry. Evo is grain free, super low carb – and NO ingredients from China. For anyone who doesn’t know Morgan – he was born with diabetes.

    The rest of my gang get Friskies cans, and S/O dry since that’s what Mr Amigo is allowed after his crystals. One huge factor for me – Purina has never had a recall on the foods I use.

    I limit dry food for the kids – but they do get some each day since it helps with tarter on their teeth.

    Glad you’re doing great with the switch

  3. Beth says:

    Thanks for posting all the information and the video, Jenny! (I watch ALL your videos to enjoy seeing Raggies – I miss mine so much.)

    Food situation here with four adult cats: Purina Naturals is their main dry food, about a cup a day for all four. Hill’s Science Diet Nature’s Best and Friskies Party Mix are their treats. Canned Friskies twice daily… works out as two “mouse-sized” portions per cat or almost 4 ounces each per day. Sometimes we switch to Fancy Feast when they get bored with Friskies; then it’s 3-4 cans per day to feed the same amount of wet food. Our cats are all in the ideal weight bracket so we know they are getting the right amount, anyway 🙂

    I agree with Donna & Morgan that dry food seems to help keep tartar off cats’ teeth (makes sense). Has anyone noticed… and maybe this just applies to our cats?… boys are more prone to dental problems than girls? None of our females, even Kidlet who was almost 20, ever needed periodontal cleaning or an extraction. We’ve had cleanings done for most of our males over the years and my Moosie had one tooth pulled.

    Also I agree with Michelle: our cats won’t eat some brands at all (IAMS and 9 Lives come to mind) or even certain varieties among brands they like. I’m really sorry about 9 Lives as that company is very generous to humane societies, which I know first-hand! I’ve sampled pricey designer brands and our cats wouldn’t touch them (the neighbor’s dogs were happy).

    I do believe, if one could buy just the gravy instead of the wet food with gravy, mine would never stop eating! Gravy’s always first, then they lower themselves to eat the shreds, chunks, etc. 🙂

    • LOL – and Morgan is not into the gravies – go figure? He’s only 5 and had 4 teeth pulled last year – but then again he is THE MORGAN and we never know what surprises he has up his sleeves.

      I think a lot of the issues are genetic – which is hard since we usually have no clue who the siblings are. Amigo & Apache’s brother lives next door – and he also has crystal issues. Makes you wonder?

      I like 9-lives – but our stores carry limited – and my brats – I mean cats only like certain ones. In the old days they made a kidney and a liver in a white gravy. My two cats LOVED that stuff!

  4. Beth says:

    Donna, you’re right; some issues are genetic. Lately I’ve read diabetes is becoming more prevalent in cats (like dogs and humans). A friend of mine had two young male cats – unrelated – with crystal issues. She fed them both special prescription diet and they did well. Samson, domestic short-hair, was my only cat with that problem and it just happened twice.

    I’ve always had kitties, should count how many in my adult life but that would take a while. We lost two with chronic renal failure which I believe is more common in Persians and Himalayans. My first Ragdoll Gizmo seemed perfectly healthy, then died suddenly in his sleep at age 10 (vet supposed he had a heart attack). My last Ragdoll Moosie had pancreatitis and a mass in his tummy. He was too frail for surgery so we did kitty hospice, just kept him as comfortable as possible. He was almost 12 when he died last year at Christmastime.

    All my cats are and were rescues so I usually don’t have genetics, background information or even exact ages. Our wonderful veterinarians see us when there’s the slightest sign of a problem.

    We have two girls, 13 and 11, and two boys, one 5 for sure and the other maybe the same age. I love them all dearly! I do want a Ragdoll again and hope he or she will find me (that’s how it works around here). Baby Mew, my 11-year-old, has all the Raggie characteristics except large size and coloring. She’s orange-striped with soft long hair and is a precious cuddler 🙂

  5. Beth,

    It’s so sad sometimes, isn’t it? I used to think 13 was a Senior Cat – since none of mine ever made it past there. My first cat had chronic bladder issues, and I found out not that long ago the barbaric treatments for her actually caused a secondary more deadly infection. Nikki died at 13 from kidney failure. Two of my guys had thyroid issues – one had surgery and died 3 months later. The other was just gone one morning – they were 10 & 11 years old. One little guy had cancer at age 5.

    The last two guys I lost were both 19 – and Jesse had double cancer surgery at age 18. Maxie went into kidney failure – but both had long happy healthy lives.

    My current crew are Apache & Amigo – 6 year old siblings born in the woods, Lakoda who is 4 was dumped in a box at a shelter with his sister.

    Morgan came to the US from Puerto Rico as a special needs with vision issues. It turned out he had double cataracts, and was diabetic – at 12 weeks old. Long story how I ended up with him – but – it was what saved his life. 3 Vets told me to put him to sleep, 1 Vet said he’d never have a normal life. Happily I found Dr Nero who believed Morgan deserved a chance. The Pirate just turned 5 in September, had double cataract surgery at Cornell when he was 18 months old – and is the snuggliest tiny guy in the world.

    The baby here is Willow – a siamese mix – also from San Juan. She just turned two in September. She was jack hammered out of a storm drain at 4 weeks old, lived in a parking lot for 3 weeks with her rescuer Mr Felix the Security Guard. She flew to Newark NJ a few weeks later and has taken over the entire house. The dogs and cats adore her – she’s the tiniest little bundle of sunshine.

    Diabetes (per the Doc) can be caused by being overweight, a pure diet of dry food (because of the additives & sugars) or other things. In many cases if it’s caught quickly – it can be reversed by diet changes. In Morgan’s case that will never happen – he’ll always be on insulin.

    I’m hoping between the Genetic Project – and IBM’s new super computer – one day when all the data is loaded they’ll find out more. Right now the computer is at a medical college being loaded with data – and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

    Technology has made so many positive differences for everyone – from the tiniest mammal to the human population. I am amazed at the differences in vet treatment – and love talking treatments with the Vet. We talk old school/new school and compare the changes.

    This is a great conversation! THANK YOU

    • Beth says:

      This really is a great conversation, Donna – and thank YOU!

      Our Kidlet (gray domestic short-hair) lived to be almost 20; we knew her age as she was half grown when we got her. Kidlet was our first Chronic Cat, first digestive issues which our vet called Garbage Can Gastritis, followed by an allergy he couldn’t pinpoint. She was on corticosteroids the last half of her life and did well with that therapy.

      Holy Tara is 13 (beautiful, dainty, long-haired tortoise shell). Someone dumped her on the street in front of our house when she was about 6 weeks old. I heard her screaming, ran out to see what happened and she climbed up my long nightgown, perched on my shoulder. She lost her voice and just squeaks. Holy Tara is doing great on her thyroid meds which made all the difference in the world with her health and her personality!

      Aside from those “old gals”, we’ve never gotten past the age of 12 – that we know of, again not being sure of some cats’ ages. I start really worrying about age 10 and, of course, get all the blood work and diagnostics.done regularly, especially with senior cats.

      Renal failure and cancer were the worst. You do what you can but in the end they fade away the same as people do.

      You sound a lot like me with your rescue kitties. I’m sure they know we saved them and they show us every day how much they appreciate us. Prince Charles is our most recent rescue. He was hanging around the nursing home, probably came from the trailer park next door. Residents loved him but the maintenance man was overheard saying he’d shoot or poison him as cats were not allowed. A girl who worked there called the vet asking if someone could take him and he wound up with us. He’s probably 5 or 6… long, tall, black short-hair.

      Sammy Mouse was found as a newborn beside the highway with his littermates, almost dead from exposure. He was cold and stiff when we got him. Now he’s a big handsome gray short-hair, 5 years old. He has a Bobcat look, tufted ears and chin. He and the Prince are quite the juvenile delinquents 🙂

      I found Baby Mew by the door of the grocery store Memorial Day weekend, 2001. She mewed at me, I reached down to pet her, and a lady came out saying, “Is she yours?” Mew had been dumped there days before. I took her home with intentions of putting an ad in the paper (surely nobody would abandon such a perfect kitty). When the holiday was over, I took her to the vet for shots and spay but she was dehydrated and undernourished – so fragile for all that. We waited a couple of weeks to do both. She was slightly pregnant but too late to save the kittens. Then she got pneumonia and stayed several days in clinic ICU. She is the sweetest, cutest, most loving little thing imaginable!

      Must run, Donna… more another time 🙂

    • Eli says:

      It’s so nice to hear about your prican kitties. I live in PR and the situation here with animals is awful sad. I’ve rescued and adopted quite a few formally street kitties myself and they are truly wonderful. A few different groups of people I volunteer with often try to rescue and find homes for many animals on the island but the poor things might wait forever here and we sometimes send them to NJ hoping they have a better chance in the US, I’m glad to hear you’ve contributed to that. On the subject of food, my cat Mia inspired me to change my kitties’ diet from dry to wet food. They had no problem with the change and the ones I still have are thriving and healthy. Unfortunately my inspiration escaped last month and a neighbor poisoned and killed my little Mia. I’m still so torn about losing her, she was very very special to me. She helped improve me and all my other pets lives so much, my little inspiration for so many nice things, even to join floppycats forums. I miss her heavily.

      • Eli,

        I’m so sorry to hear about Mia. I know the conditions in PR are very bad for the animals. I also have two Satos.

        I worked with Save A Sato for a very long time. I don’t miss it to be honest – I work with a NE Rescue that does small animals now, and I love it. No power struggles or arguments. There are many people in PR I am still very close friends with, and that was how I got Willow.

        What is hard for the Islanders to understand is how bad things are here now. The foreclosures have also resulted in many animals being dropped at the shelters. They are overcrowded – and sadly many put animals to sleep – that never did before. People drop animals along the roads now – never done before. We have a new cat that was dumped 3 weeks ago – and I have to see what can be done for him.

        It is nice to meet you

        Donna

      • Debbie says:

        Hi, I just found this site by chance and glad I did. I moved from NJ to Cabo Rojo last November and was sad to see about the animal situation here. I’ve been feeding a sweet stray black cat, China, now for 2 months and am trying to get her to like my male black kitten, Blue, who is 11 months old. Blue was another rescue who was living in a small cage for a few months before we arrived and China I think is less than a year old. For the people living in PR, do you know of a low cost place where I can have her spayed and take her for her shots? When I can, I’m hoping to resuce a dog. I have a month old chick I rescued from the street about 3 wks ago so I can’t do any more animals right now. Thanks for the info.

  6. Geo says:

    Jenny,

    Congratulations on transitioning your babies to all wet food! I wish I could do it too! But it is just so difficult to get them to eat wet food– plus, they seem to enjoy the dry food so much. I strive for at least a 50/50 balance. And I feed all higher quality, premium food. I have recently researched the carb content of various wet and dry foods and I was stunned at how high so many brands are– even the ‘premium’ brands. I try to limit the kibble so they’ll eat more wet– but they cry and cry for dry and I can’t take it! I wish the breeders wouldn’t start them out on it. If they ate all wet/ raw food, I think we’d have a much healthier cat population. The dry food, kitty crack addiction is a tough one to beat…too tough for me so far!!

    • Have you ever tried Evo? It’s a super low carb dry – and no ingredients from China? It’s the first dry food Morgan has ever been allowed – the Doc wouldn’t even let him have the Diabetic Dry – and he loves it! LOL we also call it kitty crack!

  7. Beth says:

    Evo is new to me, Donna. I will check it out. Thanks and happy new year 🙂

    • Hi Beth,

      Loved your note – just been super busy sp apologies for not responding yet.

      The Evo is great – I use the chicken version. Morgan tried the fish – and threw up – oops! He’s not much of a fish eater normally.

      Let me know if you try it 🙂

      • Beth says:

        No apology needed, Donna.

        We always have a “touchy tummy” kitty; right now, it’s Sammy Mouse. Maybe he bolts his food too fast. Occasionally he barfs his dry food but he always throws up one variety of canned Friskies (shredded turkey with cheese). Husband Jay says, “You know not to give him the stuff with a purple label!” It doesn’t bother the other three cats a bit so nothing’s wrong with the food.

        Have you ever noticed, Donna, if they’re in the yard and about to cough up a hairball, they run as fast as they can for the house? Preferably they will make it to the carpet or even a throw rug. Truly HOUSEBROKEN, aren’t they?

  8. LOL – my gang do well with that. The Barfs here are cause by them eating the hay the prairie dogs kick out of their cage. And they think it’s great to do them along the hall floor.

    None of my brats – I mean cats – are allowed outside. And it’s funny because none even have the slightest desire to go out. I’ve taken Morgan & Willow out on harnesses a few times.

    We live on a super busy street – and sadly four cats have been killed out front. One was my feral girl Jessica who met some hot dude down the street – and they took off together. It was heartbreaking – they were both killed by cars one after another. It took a while to find his owner – but I buried them together in the yard.

    We have a wooded acre in the back – full of wildlife. We have deer, foxes, skunks, possums – and the occasional coyote. The coyotes have killed a few cats around here – including Apache & Amigo’s Dad – Fuzzy. So I don’t trust my brats going out.

    The midget dogs have a fenced in yard – but we still keep an eye on them when they are out.

    Did you notice I’m an over protective Mom? LOL!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    • Beth says:

      Hi again, Donna.

      I’m so sorry about Jessica and her beau! We have a little pet cemetery also where our lost loved kitties are all buried.

      22 years ago my cat Trouble, who never left our yard, got out and was run over. We lived in a big city then. His health was failing and I truly believe he committed suicide.

      Our home is at the end of a quiet street in a small town. A few years ago the City ruled that cats must be leashed or fenced in. We cooperated as did our next-door neighbors by installing “prison yard fences” six feet tall enclosing our back yards. Our girls never leave the yard anyway (one’s lazy, the other is very shy). Nothing, including the hideous fences, keeps the boys from roaming if they want to go. Neighbors’ fence keeps in two of their cats, a fellow with hip problems and a girl with health troubles. The rest think the fence is a jungle gym; they climb back and forth between our yards all day 🙂 Brat-cats, just like yours!

      Out here in the Wild West (Belle Fourche, SD) I’ve never seen coyotes except in zoos. We have lots of deer in town, though… once my neighbor found her kitten curled up with a fawn… wish she’d had her camera 🙂 Mountain lions are scared of dogs but dangerous to house cats. Thanks goodness there are none IN town!

      So you have prairie dogs? A lady I once knew did, too. She let me pet them and they were soft as bunnies!

      I don’t think you’re overprotective – you are a super cat mom 🙂

  9. There is a low cost spay/neuter clinic in Carolina Beach – and you can also try calling Dr Ernesto Casta – tell him you have a stray cat and need help. Tell him Morgan’s Mom in CT suggested you call. His wife Wendy is who rescued Morgan – and he lived at the hospital being bottle fed by his staff.

    Hope that helps

  10. Tessa says:

    I contacted Luke’s and they no longer offer the wet cat food sampler pack- only the dry. I’ve tried over 20 different brands/varieties of wet food. I still only have one she will eat and really doesn’t eat butr laps up the juice.
    I leave it out 30 minutes and then take it away but still am giving her reduced amts. of dry food after about an hr wait. She can outlast me for sure.
    How’s it going with your 2 kittys Jenny?

  11. We do offer the wet food cat sampler pack, it is specialized so you would have to e-mail us with a specific variety you would like that would fit your cat’s needs.
    If you tell us what problems your cat has or if there is anything in particular that your cat likes more than others, just let us know.

    Shoot us an e-mail at luke@lukesallnatural.com
    or if you would like to call us, the phone number is 954-752-1123

  12. VERY HELPFUL INFO! Thank you, Kenny! (And thank your boyfriend for such a great fact list and scheduled info!)

    Very warmest regards,

    Patti & Pink Sugar 🙂 <3

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