Q. My cat will not eat the renal food my veterinarian recommended, can I feed a grocery store food?
DANA KOCH, VMD, MLAS
A. Your veterinarian recommended a therapeutic kidney diet because it has ingredients that will help slow the progression of your cat's conditions, especially phosphorus and lower protein levels. Many of the non-prescription or grocery store foods generally have high levels of phosphorus and would not be ideal for your cat.
To help your cat accept the new food It is important to do a transition. There are two reasons to do a transition:
1) Occasionally a pet will have a GI upset when switched to a new diet,
2) A pet will accept a new food better when a transition is done to allow the pet to get use to the new texture and flavor.
There is more of a chance with a hydrolyzed protein or different (high or low) fiber level food to cause a GI upset. Transition recommendation:
1) Recommend ¾ old diet – ¼ new diet
2) Do this for a few days; if no GI upset, go to the next step
3) ½ old diet - ½ new diet
4) Do this for a few days; if no GI upset, go to the next step
5) ¼ old diet - ¾ new diet
6) Do this for a few days; if no GI upset, go to the next step
7) End with 100% of the new food.
Sometimes a transition should be longer, especially for cats. Use the same recommendation, but instead of a few days, recommend doing each step for a week or more. If you cat is still not interested in the new diet you can research other non-prescription diets focusing on the labels for appropriate levels of phosphorus and protein.
Also, home cooking may be an option but make sure to provide adequate nutrients. A good website to consult is balanceit.com. This website helps you to create well balanced home cooked recipes and offers supplements to add into the diet.