Human nutritionists tell us that food variety is an important part of maintaining a healthy diet, and yet, we don’t think twice about feeding our cats the same food, day after day. I can’t imagine that they enjoy this lack of variety any more than we would.
But in addition to the boredom factor, there are other important reasons for feeding a variety of foods, also knows as the rotation diet, or rotation feeding. You can rotate different proteins, brands and flavors on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Benefits of a rotation diet
- Optimum and complete nutrition. I don’t believe that any one food can be complete and balanced for the life of a cat, no matter what the label says.
- Decrease the risk of developing food allergies. Food allergies can develop when a cat is fed the same protein over a long period of time.
- Prevent your cat from becoming finicky. When your cat eats food with different proteins, textures and flavors, she is less likely to become finicky and stop eating. If your brand changes its formula, or is recalled, you’ll find yourself without a ready alternative you know your cat will eat.
How to feed a rotation diet
There is no right or wrong way to feed a rotation diet. You can feed one food in the morning, and a different one at night. You can change foods weekly, or monthly. You can feed a variety of foods throughout the week.
Some cats may experience mild GI upset when changing foods, and the general recommendation is to introduce new foods slowly and gradually. Typically, rotation feeding does not cause GI problems when in a healthy cat when you’re rotating grain-free canned or raw food. If your cat has a sensitive stomach, you can rotation feed over a period of a week by gradually mixing in some of the new food with the old and gradually reducing the amount of the old until you’re feeding only the new food.
Probiotics can help ward off any potential GI issues. Regardless of whether you rotation feed or not, I recommend the use of a good probiotic on a daily basis. Probiotics have multiple benefits on not just the intestinal tract, but the immune system as a whole. My favorite probiotic is Dr. Goodpet’s Feline Digestive Enzymes*, a combination of probiotics and enzymes.
How I rotation feed Allegra and Ruby
Allegra and Ruby eat a combination of raw and grain-free canned food. I rotate different brands and proteins for their meals, usually chicken, turkey and duck. Most days, they get one type of raw food in the morning and a different type of raw food in the evening. Two or three times a week, they get canned food in the evening.
For the brands I feed and like, please read The best food for your cat: my recommendations.
Do you feed a variety of foods to your cat?
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This post was first published on June 14, 2012 and has been updated.