Food variety  


Dave
 Dave
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Hi! My question is about how much variety is ok to feed my cat, assuming she enjoys it and I'm not seeing any digestive problems. My girl Kimchi is 10 months old, and I've had her for 2 months. I serve her canned food in the morning and evening and she eats kibble the rest of the time. I'm currently rotating her through 4 brands of canned food and a total of 6 recipes, with a variety of textures. She happily eats it all, as well as her kibble. I'm not seeing any digestive or other problems. I always hear that you're supposed to introduce new foods very gradually, but I'm just not seeing problems with any new foods I give her. I've also changed her kibble brand twice so far, and was thinking of changing it every month or two. The advantages I see of keeping her diet so varied are that she will remain adaptable, there will less likely be nutrient deficiencies, and I can take advantage of sales :). Are there potential problems that I'm just not seeing?

Interestingly, she also doesn't seem picky about litter either. I've tried 3 brands of litter, and she seems just as happy with all of them.


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Dave
 Dave
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Oops, just realized there is a nutrition forum I should have posted this in. Not sure how to move this post over there.


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Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS
(@joanna-woodnutt)
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Hi, Dr Woodnutt here.

Firstly - yay for not having a picky cat!

Secondly - cats don't need a varied diet. As long as their diet is complete and balanced and AAFCO-accepted it'll have everything your cat needs to be strong and healthy. 

Thirdly - yes, there are a couple of disadvantages to feeding her so many different foods. Over 50% of cats are overweight, and it's going to be really difficult to carefully calculate her calories if her food changes so regularly. 50g of one food does not contain the same calories as 50g of another food, so it's going to be really easy to overfeed her. If you want to carry on feeding her that much variety, you'll need to calculate her calorie needs, then work out her daily allowance for every food and every combination of food she might get in a day - so one day you might have a quarter can and 30g, but the next day you might have a pouch and 25g - it can vary a lot.

Another thought is allergies and intolerances. Whilst food allergies are not common, they do occur, and they happen against proteins that the cat has had previous access to. When a vet is investigating a future food allergy, they'll ask for a complete dietary history for your cat to get a list of the possible proteins your cat has eaten in the past. Changing her food this often not only means it's difficult to get a dietary history, but it'll also be more difficult to treat - finding a protein she's never had access to is going to be difficult if she's eaten so many different types over her life!

I can't remember whether having more foods increases the chance of an allergic reaction in and of itself - I'll get back to you if I find anything of the sort, or perhaps one of the other vets here can help.

Whilst your approach isn't necessarily wrong, it's important to consider these two risks when deciding what you're going to do about feeding your cats.

Dr J Woodnutt MRCVS


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Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ
(@sarah-wooten)
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@dave Hey there thanks for the question!

I'll throw a slightly different take on this answer (since all vets are people and all people are different) - if this fur kid was my patient, and the physical exam was unremarkable (i.e. nothing wrong with your cat) then I would not have any problem with you switching food and taking advantage of sales. 🙂 Here are some notes:

 

1. Dr. Woodnutt is right - you can unknowingly feed a pet too much food if you are switching diets, however, you can weigh your cat at home or you cat do the hand test to see if your cat is at the correct weight. Don't let that cat get fat!

2. You are correct in that cats can have strong food preferences and if they have eaten one food their whole life, then it can be more of a challenge to switch their food. If you have been switching all along, then you will likely have an easier time of getting your cat to eat a new food if it is ever needed.

3. Keep a record somewhere of all the foods you have fed. That way, if your cat ever needs to go on a food trial, then you can show your vet all the foods you have fed already so she knows what not to feed.

 

Hope that helps!

 


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Dave
 Dave
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Thank you so much for your response, Dr. Woodnutt!

Dave


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Dave
 Dave
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@sarah-wooten

Thank you, Dr. Wooten! So kind of you and Dr. Woodnutt to help.

Considering what you both said, I think I will feed just one recipe for a month or so at a time, and switch things up on a monthly rotation, instead of this daily rotation I've been doing. I can see that it will help me keep an eye on calories. And I'll stick to a couple animal species sources.

Also, now that I'm paying more attention to Kimchi's feces, I did see that sometimes it was a bit loose, possibly because I was over-doing the variety.

Thanks again!!

Dave


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