Supply chain shortages across a variety of industries have become common over the past 16 months, and pet food shortages are no exception. There are many reasons for this, including the increased number of pets that were adopted during the pandemic. For in depth look a this growing problem, read this comprehensive article on Reuters.com.
I have always stressed the importance of feeding a varied diet, also known as a rotation diet.
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 boredom, there are other important reasons to feed a rotation diet:
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 cat’s preferred brand changes its formula, or is recalled, you’ll find yourself without a ready alternative you know your cat will eat.
The last item is probably the most critical in light of the current pet food shortages. If your cat will only eat one particular food and it’s no longer available, you’ll find yourself with a potentially dangerous situation on hand: cats who go for more than 24-48 hours without food can develop hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease,) which can be life-threatening. This is especially concerning for overweight cats.
How to feed a variety of foods
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 in a healthy cat when you’re rotating raw, gently cooked or canned grain-free food, since it’s usually the grains in a food that are responsible for an upset stomach. If your cat is sensitive to food changes, 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
Allegra eats mostly raw food (her favorite is Darwin’s turkey formula.) Once or twice a week, I feed a canned meal with a different protein.
For the brands I feed and like, please read The Best Food for Your Cat: My Recommendations.
*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.
Photo by Abeer Zaki/Unsplash
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.