Eight Tips: Transitioning Your Cat to Canned Food

cat licking off spoon in transitioning your cat to canned food post

Is your cat a dry food addict?

The benefits of canned food (aka wet food) are many! If you are reading this, you probably already know that! Higher protein, fewer carbs, more moisture, etc. All of my cats (3 at home, 3 at the feline-hospital that I own) are all on canned-only diets. Here are some tips for transitioning your cat to canned food. Know that most cats can be transitioned to canned food, but it takes patience and persistence! It may even take a month or longer.


3 food bowls in transitioning cat to canned food post

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint when Transitioning Your Cat to Canned Food!

Put a small amount of fresh canned food in a separate bowl near your cat’s dry food daily.  After a while, your cat will accept it and hopefully try it. Your cat may initially resist. She may even try to “cover it up” as if she were in the litter box! Over time she will hopefully take a taste. Once your cat is eating some canned food, try decreasing the amount of dry food and increasing the amount of canned.

You’re Going to Waste Food. Be Prepared.

Keep offering canned food at EVERY meal. Know that you will waste a lot of canned food during this process of transitioning your cat to canned food, which can be frustrating! Make sure anything refrigerated has been warmed up briefly for 10-15 seconds in the microwave. Test it to ensure that it is not too hot (like you would a baby bottle).

Positive Reinforcement – Such a Good Kitty!

cat being petted in transitioning your cat to canned food postPet your cat while he or she is eating. Many cats are “social eaters” and will eat if you talk to them and are excited about the food too! We do this all the time in our hospital when cats are reluctant to eat.

Entice the Canned Food With a Little Dry

Sprinkle some pieces of crushed dry food on the canned food. You can also try dehydrated chicken pieces. I like these because they are nothing but chicken! But make sure you read my post on healthy cat treats as dehydrated chicken may not be as safe as a cooked treat.

Give It a Fishy Flavor When Transitioning Your Cat to Canned Food

Put a little canned tuna or a few anchovies on the canned food. If that doesn’t work, try a little grated Parmesan cheese (just a little, as we don’t want to cause an upset stomach). Or how about these freeze dried minnows? Sounds kind of gross, right? To you and I, yes! To the cats, yummy!

Chip and Dip Trick

cat eating dry in transitioning your cat to canned food postTry dipping some dry food pieces in the juice from the canned food. If she will eat it with a bit of canned juice on it, try the ‘chip and dip’ trick. Scoop up a tiny bit of canned food onto the piece of dry food. Put it on a separate plate from their small portion of dry food. Some cats will eat their small portion of dry and then go investigate the dry food with a tiny bit of canned on it.

Add Canned to Dry

Going one step further, try adding a few small pieces (the size of an eraser head) of the canned food to the portion of dry food. Your cat may pick around the canned food but will get used to the smell – and texture – even if she does not eat any pieces of the new food.

Got Multiple Cats? Transitioning Your Cat to Canned Food Can Still Be Done!

multiple cats - transitioning your cat to canned foodIf you have a multiple-cat household, some cats like to eat alone in a less stressful environment, so you may need to take these cats into a separate, quiet room. Try forming a meatball of canned food and offering it by hand. Eventually, you can move from your hand to a plate!

NOTE – Yes, this is a cute picture, right? I actually chose it to show what NOT to do! Multiple cat households should have resources in SEPARATE areas, i.e. each cat should have a SEPARATE feeding station. Don’t be like this picture and have everyone eating on top of one another!

I hope these tips were helpful in transitioning your cat to canned food! Is your cat on an all-canned diet? How did you transition them?

*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links, I will get a small commission at NO additional cost to you. I only recommend products that I believe in! I am an affiliate for both Amazon and other online retailers. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

2 Responses

    1. Some cats like pate, some like chunks and gravy… the pate versions are lower in carbs, which I prefer. I also stick with well-known brands like Science Diet, Purina, and Royal Canin as these foods have generally gone through actual feeding trials (not just balanced on paper). Fancy Feast is another cat favorite. My 3 cats eat different types of Science Diet each, but they have the microchip feeders so they don’t get into each others’ food.

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I’m Dr. Amber Carter. Board-certified feline-veterinarian. Business owner. Homeschooling mom. Cancer survivor. Hot chocolate connoisseur. 

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