Dear Critter Corner: I read recently that it’s good to give my cat lots of variety in their food, but am worried about it upsetting her stomach. How can I introduce different foods to her?

There are some studies that have been done to speak to cats’ having a variety of food in their diet and how that can reduce food allergies, be more cost effective, and provide the cat with more stimulation.

Sometimes it can be the protein or flavor that may cause an upset stomach, but usually it’s the format of the food, such as pate versus sliced chunks in gravy. Initially you may want to try feeding one or two flavors within the same food format (ex. pate) and within the same brand of food. If your cat’s tummy is still a bit finicky, try mixing half of their regular food with half of the new flavor or even smaller amounts for a slower transition. Once they’re more used to this combination, then slowly feed equal amounts of each alternating with the meal (ex. tuna for breakfast and chicken for dinner). As they get more and more used to the various flavors, add in other flavors (beef, duck, venison etc). At this point you could stop here, or try out different brands as long as your cat’s stomach is doing well also. Again, it’s helpful to start small and slow when adding in a new brand of cat food, sticking to the same formats and flavors that your cat likes and is digesting well. Various brands of cat food formulate their food differently, so there may be other ingredients that your cat is not used to (vegetables, grains, oils etc). It really depends on your preference and that of your vet in terms of whether the food should be completely grain and/or vegetable free, and protein rich. From an economical standpoint, in case a certain brand of food goes off the market or increases in price, you’ll have a few different options that your kitty will enjoy just as much.

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