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Food and digestion

Introducing a new food

Introducing a new food

It’s important to introduce any new food slowly. Suddenly changing a cat’s diet can cause digestive issues, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in the smell and appearance of their feces.

Start with just a small amount of new food mixed in with their usual food, and then slowly increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old food that you give them. This should be done over a period of about 5 to 10 days, depending on how sensitive or fussy your cat is.

This also familiarises them with the new food as sometimes cats will reject something because the texture or smell is different from what they’re used to.

This is less of a concern if you habitually change your cat’s food or give them a wide variety in their diets.

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Vomiting after eating

Vomiting immediately or very soon after eating

Your cat may be eating too fast.


If you have more than one pet or your cat’s feeding area is in a busy area of the home (such as a kitchen during meal prep time), try moving your cat’s feeding spot to a place where it feels less threatened. Cats should be fed with at least 6 feet between them and other pets. If your cat feels safer in high places, try feeding it in an elevated spot.

If your cat is simply a fast eater (sometimes an issue with rescue pets who have had limited access to food in the past), getting them a puzzle feeder will force them to slow down. You can also break the meal up into small portions, feeding your cat a little bit at a time with several minutes between each portion.

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Vomiting in general

A good place to start with this keeping a Kitty Diary and making detailed notes of whenever the vomiting happens. Pay attention to what they’ve eaten, what your cat did that day, what you did that day, if there’s a certain activity or time of day that precedes the attack, as well as anything else you think might be relevant. Cats can be extremely sensitive and often something as simple as a change of schedule or an exciting visitor can cause them to exhibit distress.


For example, if your cat often vomits when you’re getting ready to go to work, this might be an indication that they know you’re getting ready to leave and they’re anxious.


If you’ve spent some weeks logging your cat’s activity and haven’t noticed any pattern, it’s possible that it’s a form of food sensitivity.

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Contrary to popular belief, it is not normal or healthy for a cat to have a lot of hairballs. While the occasional hairball is nothing to be concerned about, if it happens frequently there is likely an underlying medical cause that needs treating.

After ruling out medical issues, the most basic thing you can do is to try brushing your cat more frequently. Removing excess fur will help reduce the amount they swallow.

Overgrooming is also a possibility and this will be noticeable in any patches of thinning fur. Overgrooming is often a sign of anxiety, which should be treated. Overgrooming on the belly can also, in rare cases, indicate a bladder infection.


Increasing their water intake can also be helpful. To add water to a cat’s diet, try introducing a wet food. If you’re already feeding them wet food, try adding a bit of water to it and mixing it in. Also, water bowls should be placed away from the feeding area in a place where the cat feels safe. Increased water intake is always beneficial and can help reduce the chances of kidney or urinary issues.

Another possibility is a sudden intolerance to their food, and changing their diet to a different protein source might help.

If all else fails, giving them some kind of hairball supplement or daily lubrication can usually help keep it under control.

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Food sensitivities

Food sensitivities

Food sensitivities are surprisingly common in cats and can manifest suddenly after years of feeding your cat the same food without issue. In one sense, it’s easy to fix as simply removing the allergen will solve the problem. However, sometimes identifying the allergen can be a long and stressful process.


The first and easiest step is to change their food. In many cases, cats are fed the exact same food every single day for years on end, and they can develop sensitivities due to overexposure to specific ingredients. The easiest first step you can make is simply to change the protein source in their food. It’s important that you carefully read the ingredients on the label as often food that is labelled one thing will have other sources of protein listed further down the ingredient list. Poultry, for example, tends to be a common allergen in cats because of its prevalence in pet food.


Sometimes the thing they have a sensitivity to is a little more obscure and you will need to experiment. This is where the process can get long and frustrating. Adding to that frustration, it can take up to eight weeks for a new food regime to fully show its benefits, so patience is required.

However, if the problem is bad enough or you don’t want to waste time experimenting, you can get special hypoallergenic foods from your vet. Getting a referral from your vet to see a dermatologist is also a good idea.

An important thing to remember when dealing with food allergens and sensitivities is to be aware of any other food your cat might ingest during the course of the day.


If you have another pet who is eating a different food, make sure your cat can’t get at it. This includes making sure they aren’t able to lick the empty bowl, and when you pick up the bowls at the end of their meals, make sure you wash them well.


Be aware of any utensils you use to dole out the food. If you use a spoon or a scoop or a fork, make sure the one you use for your sensitive cat hasn’t previously been used in another food.


Finally, make sure you pay attention to what treats you give them. If you go through the trouble of making sure there’s no poultry in their food but still hand out cat treats full of chicken, you’re not going to see any improvement.

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