5 tips to transition a cat from dry to wet food – vet approved!

Dry cat foods can be addictive to domestic cats. The manufacturers are very clever in that way. They know how to make this very artificial food highly palatable by spraying it with a nice smelling fatty solution (see below). The core material is entirely tasteless; like cardboard. Cats like fatty foods which by the way is why they like milk, and can prefer dry food even in preference to high-quality wet food, and even their favorite treat sometimes.

Transition from dry to wet cat food
Transition from dry to wet cat food
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Dr Drew, with whom I share views on cat nutrition, agrees that dry food can be addictive which can make it hard for cat caregivers wean their cats off it and onto a nice wet food. Why do that? Because a full-time dry diet can lead to health issues. And that comes from Dr Drew as well and other vets.

It is rather cynical of the big cat food manufacturers to create this huge range of dry foods without referring to the potential health implications and in some cases promote the product as good for health. I am not saying that all dry food is bad for cat health. I am just saying that it has limitations and should not be the only food given to a cat. The same issues are facing people with ultra-processed foods possibly behind a surge in cancer in the under-50s in the UK.

I feed my cat dry food at night. He free feeds at night. But he has never had weight issues. This is partly because he is an indoor/outdoor cat and is allowed outside unsupervised resulting in lots of natural activity and exercise. Yes, I am aware of the dangers and the wildlife conservation issues.

Five tips to get a domestic cat to transition from addictive dry food to wet food in the interests of their long-term health from Dr Drew on TikTok. Note: this is an embedded video from TikTok. If Dr Drew removes his video it will stop working here and if that has happened: sorry.

Five tips

1. Feeding schedule: A lot of cat caregivers allow their cat to free feed, meaning fed whenever they wish on dry food which can be left out even in hot weather without deterioration. This is very convenient. The veterinary recommendation is to feed to a schedule particularly if a cat is obese and needs to lose weight. The scheduling allows the caregiver to better motivate a cat to transition from dry to wet as it allows them to control hunger and therefore motivation.

2. Exposure therapy: Dr Drew makes the interesting observation that cats on full-time dry foods can’t recognise wet food as food! 🙀 I am a little unsure about that but it may apply to some cats who need exposure to wet food to get used to its presence and start eating it. The video explains the process. If a cat has been exclusively raised on dry they might not recognise wet food as food.

3. Texture toppers: This is about getting a cat used to the entirely different texture of wet food compared to dry. You can achieve this by creating a sort of hybrid food for a while. You crush some dry food onto the wet as a topper. This attracts the cat to the wet food. You can by dry food treats like Dreamies (in the UK) which can be sprinkled onto wet food. Dr Drew also recommends ‘protein toppers’ of the same flavour as the kibble to which the cat is addicted. This will assist in transitioning.

4. High fat content wet: As mentioned, kibble is sprayed with a fatty solution. Cats like fats. To aid the transition buy wet foods containing a high percentage of fat. Dr Drew mentions a couple of examples for Americans such as ‘Classic Pate’. There will be similar products in other countries. A bit of personal research will reap rewards.

5. GI supplements: ‘GI’ stands for gastrointestinal (GI) tract or GI system. Dr Drew recommends ‘GI supportive supplements’ such as probiotics and digestive enzymes. Transitioning can lead to diarrhea and perhaps vomiting. These supplements will help avoid these conditions.

RELATED: How do I know if I’m feeding my cat good quality dry cat food?

Palatability sprays

Pet food manufacturers use a variety of ingredients to enhance the palatability of dry kibble, including some that are sprayed on. Here’s a breakdown:

Types of Palatability Enhancers:

  • Fats and Oils: These are often the first layer sprayed onto kibble. They provide a desirable aroma and mouthfeel, attracting pets and encouraging them to eat. Common options include chicken fat, fish oil, and vegetable oils.
  • Digests: These are enzymatically hydrolyzed proteins that have a strong, meaty flavor. They are often sprayed on after the fat/oil layer to further enhance the taste.
  • Flavorings: Both natural and synthetic flavors can be used. Natural options include yeasts, essential oils, and plant extracts. Synthetic flavors are also used, but their safety and potential long-term effects are debated.
  • Other Additives: Some manufacturers may use additional ingredients like pyrophosphates (in cat food) to intensify the taste of amino acids, although the potential negative effects of these are being studied.

Application Process:

The specific application process can vary, but generally involves a series of coatings:

  1. Fat/Oil Spray: Applied first to create a base layer with aroma and mouthfeel.
  2. Liquid Digest: Sprayed on top of the fat/oil layer to enhance the meaty flavor.
  3. Powdered Digest: Sometimes added as a final layer to further boost the flavor and aroma.

Important Points:

  • The specific ingredients used and the application process vary depending on the manufacturer and the desired palatability profile.
  • While palatability enhancers can make kibble more appealing to pets, it’s important to focus on the overall nutritional quality of the food when choosing a brand.
  • Some pet owners may prefer to avoid synthetic flavors and opt for food with natural palatability enhancers.

I hope this information is helpful! Source: Google Gemini. Thanks.

RELATED: Working out the protein content of wet and dry cat food for comparison (infographic)

Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo