Turning the Cat Feeding Rule on its Head

The following post in my unprofessional opinion and should not be considered advice.

I know the rule. When changing your cat’s food you should introduce it slowly while gradually reducing their current food. Everyone knows that a sudden change in diet will cause intestinal problems for your cat that include vomiting, diarrhea and possibly other problems.

That rule always seemed wrong to me. I learned long ago that for humans, variety is healthy and necessary, as long as the various food is not junk food. Cats, too, do not always eat the same food in the wild. A wild or feral cat might eat a mouse for breakfast, a bird for lunch, and a lizard for dinner. They might even have a bug or two for a snack. Why don’t they get upset stomachs?

Maybe eating the same food day in and day out, over and over, may be the cause of the problem and not the solution. It could be like a drug addiction and change could induce withdrawal symptoms. I’m just guessing and I have no evidence but logic tells me eating the same thing all the time is not what nature intended for cats.

I have gradually moved our cats from sameness to variety with no abdominal distress except for Frankie who has been a puker since we adopted him. I think he just eats way too fast and then pukes it up.

Currently, I feed them high quality, grain-free canned cat food as well as homemade raw cat food. I also give them dry kibble but I limit that to a small amount per day in an attempt to break Chris’s addiction to dry food.

I had been feeding them the same canned food and homemade raw food but I would buy a different dry food. I always chose a high-quality food but bought what was on sale at the time. Recently, I started changing the canned food as well because the Earthborn Chicken Catitorrie suddenly became less desirable to our cats. Perhaps they became bored with the same flavor.

I chose several different brands and varieties and decided to do a test to see which ones they liked and which ones they didn’t like.

canned cat food

Our boys seemed to prefer the two b.f.f. varieties shown above. The chicken and lamb and the chicken and turkey were a big hit even though they seemed quite watery to me. They liked the Dave’s almost as much but they left the Tender and True almost untouched. The other foods fell somewhere in the middle.

The important point here is that during this trial none of our cats got sick. In fact, I don’t recall Frankie puking at all during this period.

So my feeding routine now starts with a can of B.F.F. in the morning but since one of the pet food stores I shop at doesn’t carry it, that will change from time to time. Next, after they digest their food a little and start looking for more, I dish them out some of my homemade raw cat food. This is usually made from chicken thighs or chicken breasts and it does not change because they won’t eat it if I use beef or turkey.

During the late morning, if I am home, I try to avoid going in the kitchen because I have to listen to Chris’s pathetic cries for kibble. Sometimes I feel bad for him and give him some and other times I wait but they always get a small amount of kibble between meals. If I go to work, I give them a small amount of kibble when I leave. I do this because Chris does not eat as much wet food as Frankie and Floki do. For dinner it’s the same thing; Canned food and then raw food. Then it is a little more kibble before bedtime but not too much.

This is my experience with my cats but this probably won’t work for all cats. I am curious, though, if anyone else feeds their cats a variety and how do they do with it?


28 thoughts on “Turning the Cat Feeding Rule on its Head

    1. fraziersracket

      I don’t like wet food, either. My human always mixes my regular cat food with a special hair ball reducing food (both dry) and I like the mix. Every now and again, she will throw in some food for dental hygiene, too. I don’t mind the variety.

  1. 15andmeowing

    I think variety is good. I have read in several places that you should vary the food because some cats will only eat the one kind they were given and could starve if you were suddenly not there
    ( sickness, emergency) to provide it. Dave’s is a s,all chain of stores in my state, the owner has his own line of cat and dog food.

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      That is a good point. Chris shows signs of that by preferring dry food and eating very little of the wet food but it is not brand specific. Also, Dave’s seems like a good quality brand and it is not too expensive.

  2. elizabetcetera

    I make raw food (from vet Lisa Pierson recipe) with chicken thighs and hearts. I mix with 2 kinds of canned all meat food BFF tuna w/ chicken and Wellness’ chicken pate. I also make a pumpkin, sweet potato, taurine, butter mix. And I mix a small amount of 3 different types of grain free kibble in. I add some hot water to the mix to bring it to “mouse temperature.” The total mixture is 2 oz. – the weight only includes the food and not the water, which they receive 3 times a day. Whew! It’s quite the ritual but they both love it. No vomiting food.

    When Teddy was frst on only dry kibble he would hog down his food and barf.

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      You put a lot of love in your pet’s diet. It not easy but it is worth it. I use TCFeline premix which only requires ground chicken. I use organic chicken and I recently discovered Whole Foods has organic liver which I added to the batch and they loved it.

  3. Summer

    We get a variety of different high quality canned and raw food (never dry). If a food makes one of us throw up, it’s sometimes not a one-time thing, and the food just doesn’t agree with that cat. (If it’s not that, either the cat is unwell, or eats too fast, which is something Boodie has been known to do.) Like, Binga could never stomach Blue Buffalo, so my human stopped buying it.

  4. franhunne4u

    My cat now gets only one brand, but six varieties from that brand, some fishy things in the morning (salmon, sea-fish – non-specified – or trout) and some meat based pouches in the evening (rabbit, chicken or turkey) – and she has three different brands of kibbles to choose from – which she goes for when the proferred wet food is not to her liking. And she gets loads of treats. She is not overweight, but on the upper scale of normal weight …

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      I think getting protein from different sources (chicken, beef, turkey) is a good idea. I forgot to mention I give my cats freeze dried food for treats like Stella and Chewey’s or Instinct.

  5. easyweimaraner

    I’m with you… maybe the reason for tummy thunderstorms is that we use always the same food… I learnt from a pro that food with less ingredients is the best… and I changed my mind and refused to buy food what contains 87 different things what are “super good” for our furkids…..

  6. thecatsoflifeslo

    The two types of food that I have always read lead to any sort of issues are grain and chicken. Since everyone is on their gluten free kick, I think that hysteria has led to the grain cat food statements. I have a bulk feeder where they can serve themselves. I feel like this means they will eat a little bit multiple times, keeping their calorie and fat intake commensurate with their activity. I feed them canned food at night. I feed half a can to each cat. Sometimes they eat all their bowl, sometimes they don’t. I leave it out until either they are empty or I decide to wash them in the morning. If it has been cool, I might combine bowls down to one or two, since they are also known to leave food buried in the wild and come back to it.

    I have one cat that is a puker. I found that when I gave him chicken or salmon, he was more prone to do it. Lately he has been doing it more with a little weight loss. I put water in his canned food and stir it so he will at least get the benefit of nutrition even if he does not take in the solid to puke up. This allows him to eat slower and I usually set his bowl aside so he can eat more when I go to bed. He does not usually eat all at one sitting and I have to be sure the other cats don’t eat his.

    Once a month I open a can of tuna for them. They each get a bit more than half a can but I don’t want them to have this too often. Giving them just one type of meat can lead to deprivation of vitamins or chemicals they need. For instance, one reason cats like to eat mice is to get taurine from them. That is something you don’t usually get in canned tuna or roast chicken.

    As long as they are getting proper amounts of vitamins and minerals or chemicals from their food, they can stay healthy. They usually need a bit of fat in their diet, and I would not provide them with that if I am feeding them roast chicken. Of course, it depends on the recipe you use and what you add.

    I have multiple cats so it is something I have to watch for all of them. I am taking my puker for a checkup because if it is not the diet, it could be allergy to something he is eating such as the dry food, or it could be diabetes when added to the weight loss. Either way, I will find out and post it on my blog.

    I wish your puker the best, and hope it is simply an occasional reaction, not an allergy or blockage. I had one cat that got a blockage from tearing apart a stuffed toy and ingesting the stuffing. She almost died and I had to keep up her fluids manually and mix in nutrients from mashed food mixed with water. It was a close call, but she made it and eventually threw up the stuffing. I was very relieved and she became active again.

    Again, best wishes form one multi cat lover to another. I have a few more than you though lol.

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      Thanks for the great comment. We kept the dry food out for our cats all the time for years but I have learned since then that’s not a good idea. We always had fat cats and I’m sure that’s the reason. Chris is more addicted to the dry food now then our other cats and he is the only fat one. I believe the healthiest food is the raw homemade food that I’ve been giving them. Ideally it would be better if I could grind up the organs and the bones but that’s not practical. I am slowly trying to phase out the dry food but it has not been easy. I do think dry food today is better than it used to be and some cats can tolerate it more than others. My Chris for example drinks plenty of water what are puck, who died recently from a bladder blockage, did not drink very much water. Cats that don’t drink much water and eat a lot of dry food tend to get those bladder issues.

  7. elizabetcetera

    I wouldn’t be making a mostly raw meat diet but Teddy’a inability to control himself with free-feeding pushed me to research cats’ diets. I didn’t ever want to be “that lady who makes cat food” but I am now. The love of our pets drive us to do things we normally wouldn’t consider. Thank goodness cats don’t have homework nor do they go to college!

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      I started researching cat food in 2010 when my cat Flash died at around 5 years old. I never found out what caused his issues but I wanted to give our other cats the best chance at a long life. I had some trouble at the beginning getting them to eat it. I guess I was because I was buying pre-made frozen raw cat food instead of making it myself. I stopped for a while and then we lost three more cats. All at around 8 years old. That is when I became more vigilant about making my own.

  8. databbiesotrouttowne

    we get a variety heer az well…..over at cuzin daiz’ place; her eatz canned onlee { her haz never liked kibble & her food servizz peepulz R home all day ta help her with her menu selectshunz 🙂

    me tuna, eye eat both kibble and canned coz de food servizz gurl werkz all de time N doez
    knot have a roo teen { for puttin down canned at say 6 pea em }

    we eat purina, 9 lives, friskies, fancy feast, blue buffalo, I love you and me, nutro, wellness, N eye am proba ablee forgettin…sum brand….oh… and a wee bit oh cheez, but onlee colby jack N mozzarella 😉 ♥♥

  9. Rohvannyn

    My girl is super picky and will stop eating if she is tired of her current flavor. She loves Meow Mix Wet, sometimes certain Friskies, and usually turns her nose up at the high quality grain free stuff when I try to introduce it. She has her days when she loves kibble and days when she hates it. And days when she bugs me till I give her some lettuce or cilantro with her dinner. It’s a good thing her adopted big brother eats what she doesn’t, and that she’s so good at communicating. Only now her big brother is learning to show his tastes…

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      When I first started looking for high-quality wet food for them it was difficult to find something they liked. It seemed their favorite brands tending to be somewhere in the middle in terms of quality. I am a bit surprised your cat eats lettuce. I doubt if she can digested very well. My cats won’t eat a little grass sometimes when they go outside perhaps lettuce is similar. They can’t digest in grass but I think it is good for them in other ways, especially if they have an upset stomach.

      1. Rohvannyn

        You’re right, she probably doesn’t digest the fiber well, but we use it as a treat, and we checked to make sure we weren’t giving her anything even mildly toxic. She seems to get the same benefit from it as grass – which is good since we have very little grass here!


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