By: Barbara Osgood-Hartness
A few months ago, a new cat came into our home. He is a two- or three-year-old Bengal named Sadik, and he came to us in a rather convoluted way but has settled right in. We’ve not had a cat in a couple of years, but I had learned along the way that cats really should have wet food, to ensure they remain well-hydrated. Apparently kidney issues are the most common ailment for cats as they age. Sadik’s previous owner had fed him only dry and we were unsure of his diet at his first home.
To get Sadik started off on the right paw, I purchased high-end foods, both wet and dry. Much to my surprise, he enthusiastically ate the dry food and wanted nothing to do with the wet option. I kept trying different canned foods, even human salmon from the meat department, but he continued to refuse it all, happily munching away on the kibble. Whiskey, the chocolate lab, loved this trial and error period, as she was the beneficiary of all the Sadik’s untouched servings.
From time to time I would give up, thinking I would just make sure Sadik was well-hydrated. I made sure he had access to multiple water sources: Several bowls, a Drinkwell fountain, and toilet lids up at all times. But in the back of my mind, I knew he needed to eat wet food, too. I kept trying, encouraged by a very knowledgeable pet store manager, Daryl, who assured me cats are carnivores and used to eating meat in the wild. He said that after a few months, Sadik’s instincts would kick in and he would start eating the wet and/or raw food I kept offering him.
Occasionally I’d open a can of something, mix in a few pieces of dry kibble, and present it to his majesty. I even withheld the dry food during these experiments, but not for long. If the wet food sat there untouched for several hours, I would panick (he might starve!) and pull out the dry food. Whiskey continued to eat what Sadik would not.
Then the strangest thing happened: About 2½ months after Sadik’s arrival to our home, he suddenly began eating the wet food! Victory, just as Daryl had predicted. He is still a little finicky, preferring some brands and flavors to others. Whiskey is relieved his rejects still come her way! He also still eats kibble during the night, so I don’t have to get up and feed him every time he wants a snack. But he is consistently eating wet food now and I feel less anxious about his diet and health. I plan to use this same strategy to slowly introduce a joint supplement to him, so he stays playful and active as he ages.