Ways to Deal with Shortages of Cat Food and Litter
by Rita Reimers, Multi Cat Behavior Expert
The world as we know it has changed, due to the COVID-19 virus and the resulting shortage of many supplies we once took for granted. Toilet paper, meat, bread, and yes even cat food and litter are in high demand and short supply, as companies scramble to get more product to market.
While companies like Chewy, Amazon, Petco, and PetSmart are working hard to restock and ship items as quickly as possible, many cat owners have found themselves running low, or even running out, of their cat’s usual foods. Finicky as cats can be, and as delicate as their tummies are, this could become a real problem for cat parents.
Even some cat litter brands are on backorder these days, and switching cat litter can be traumatic for some cats. Behavior problems could result if you choose a new brand you cat doesn’t like (and how do you know until you’ve tried it?).
I am here help you chose your cat food and cat litter substitutes wisely.
What to Do if You Cannot Find Your Cat Food Brand
Let’s talk about feeding our cats first. If you can keep to the same brands, but try different flavors, that might work out best. We all know cats like what they like, and hate what they hate. Swapping out a chicken pate for a chicken and liver pate just might work. Swapping out a chicken pate for a chicken in gravy may NOT work for your cat. And conversely, swapping a gravy for a pate may cause kitty pouting. Try to keep the texture and flavor as close as possible within the same brand.
If you do need to switch brands, try to do this before you run out of their original brand. That way, you can mix the two and offer them together. This approach may cause less tummy upset (switching brands does sometimes cause temporary gastric issues), and perhaps your cat will accept the new food easier if it’s mixed with the brand he is used to eating.
Another option would be to feed half the amount of cat food you usually do, and make up the other half with the meat from your own dinner. It should be UNSEASONED meat, as cats can become ill (or die) from eating things like onions, garlic, raisins, and many other spices we handle with ease. You can also offer canned tuna or chicken in place of half of the cat food, packed in water is best.
It is not wise to discontinue cat food entirely in favor of table food, as this could cause your cat to become deficient in essential vitamins and minerals they need to thrive, such as Taurine and Linoleic Acid.
If you’d like more information, please read “Your Cat’s Nutritional Needs” for more details about basic feline nutrition.
- Switch to flavors of the same brand if your cat’s favorites aren’t available, to avoid tummy distress
- If you must feed a different brand, start by mixing the new brand with what you currently feed to get your cat to accept it, and to avoid tummy distress
- Swap out half of the cat food for unseasoned meat from your own table
What to Do if You Cannot Find Your Cat Litter Brand
My own cats are very picky about their cat litter. Certain brands will cause them to seek other places to do their dirty deeds, and not in places I approve!
Most brands of cat litter seem to be in good supply, so far. If you must switch brands, please keep the following in mind:
- Choose a brand that has a similar texture to what your cat uses now. In other words, avoid using this as an opportunity to change from fine granular texture to chunky crystal pieces.
- Try to avoid new brands that are extremely perfumed, as your cat may avoid it due to scent alone
- Mix the new litter with what’s left of your current litter, to help the transition go smoothly.
If by some chance you cannot get any cat litter at all, try lining your cat pans with newspaper or with unscented puppy wee pads. It’s not as good as cat litter, but it will save your floors and your furniture from unhappy accidents.
What to Do if Your Cats are Stressed or Bored
You might also take this opportunity to play and cuddle with your cats more, since we are being advised to “shelter in place” for now. Cats are very sensitive creatures, and they may pick up on any stress or anxiety you are feeling right now.
Turn off the news for awhile, and spend some quality one-on-one time with your cats. It will help you to forget about the times we’re in, if only for a little while.
In the end, you may end up with a much better understanding of you cat’s behavior, and a much deeper bond, too.
If tinned food is difficult to get switch to 15kg bags,of good quality dry.these you will find pets at home.farm and pet place and local animal feed mills.you can stock up on these,cats will enjoy them and stay well fed.
Renate Mason says
I need cat food and litter now, but I am afraid to go out.
Rita Reimers says
I am not going out either; try Amazon and Chewy for delivery. Both delivered pretty quickly. The lead times Chewy gives almost always end up being quicker by half, as long as you choose items that are not out of stock. Likewise with Amazon.
Meanwhile, give you cat(s) some plain tuna, chicken, fish, beef. For litter, wash out the pans and put newspaper, wee pads, or even leave them empty and wash them out daily… Stay safe!