cat protraitYou may need to change your cat’s diet for any number of reasons. Often, you will find that your cat refuses the new food. Don’t worry. Leave food out and keep it fresh until your cat is hungry enough to eat it. Your cat will not be harmed by several days of low food intake: as a carnivore, it is biologically adapted to going without food for several days between kills. If you give in to its refusal to eat the provided food, your cat has just trained *you* to feed it what it wants.

If you need to decrease the total amount of food the cat normally eats, the best way to do this is to reduce the amount of food gradually. This way, you don’t have an upset cat after its meal.

If you have a cat that bolts its food down (and throws it back up), you can slow its eating down by placing several one to two inch diameter clean rocks in its food bowl. Picking the food out will slow it down. Be sure the rocks aren’t so small it could eat them by accident.

If you have multiple cats, and one of them requires special food (from medical to weight-loss diets), then you must go to a fixed feeding schedule to ensure that that cat not only gets the food, but doesn’t get any other food.

If you have been free-feeding, switch them over. Don’t put out any food the first morning; that evening, put out the dishes and supervise the cats. They will most likely be hungry and eat most of the food. Take the dishes up after 1/2 hour or so and wait until morning.

There after, remain on the morning/night- or even just night- scheduled feedings and your cats will adapt quickly enough. If you have trouble with one cat finishing quickly and going over to feed on other cats’ food, you will have to put them in separate rooms while feeding.

As for vegetarian diets, cats require the aminosulfonic acid taurine, which is unavailable in natural vegetable except for trace concentrations in some plant sources like pumpkin seeds; not enough to do a cat any good. Lack of taurine can cause blindness or even death by cardiomyopathy. There are also a few other similar nutrients, such as arachidonic acid (a fatty acid only found in animals), but taurine is the most widely known.

Some small manufacturers claim to have produced synthetically-based supplements that when combined with an appropriately balanced all-vegetable diet will provide the complete nutrition required by cats.

No one has been able to find studies which demonstrate that cats which eat such a diet over the long term stay healthy.