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I adhere to this belief that any animal (including humans and of course cats) will be more well-adjusted in their lives when they have been exposed to a wide variety of stimuli. This is what I do with my kitties...

I feed my cats different types of raw and high-end canned foods. I don't stick to one particular meat type or even a particular brand, though I have my favorites. I switch between raw and canned depending on my mood and the availability of raw food in my fridge. Every day it is something different; I hate feeding the same thing twice. By doing this, I'm hoping that my cats will have strong, adaptable bodies and will live long healthy lives. I've never had my cats throw up or had diarrhea so far. They have nice shiny coats and my vet has told me that they're at the right size and weight. I do find it a bit queer that people have so much trouble switching their cats to different foods - it's most likely because they've been stuck on a singular food for so long that their stomachs can no longer handle a variety of foods like they would find in the wild.

Food aside, I also try to incorporate variety into my kitties' daily lives. I like to bring them outside on leashes so they can explore new areas. I bring them over to friends' houses when they have dinner parties so the cats can get accustomed to new people. I even bring them out on car trips randomly when I'm picking up food so they get used to car rides (I never leave them in the car too long, especially in the stupid weather here). All these things I've done will hopefully make my cats very well-adapted and accepting. I'm very pleased at how they've turned out so far - very healthy and happy kitties. By the way, my vet encouraged me to do this since these little guys are still quite young, being only 4.5 months old. I'm hoping that one day these cats will travel on an airplane with me! I haven't thought of a way to introduce them to the trauma of a TSA strip search, though.... :?

Does anyone else try to apply this type of "parenting" with their cats? Can you share your thoughts/stories?
 

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This is something I've been trying to do with my own life the past year or two. I had a bad habit of eating the same meals over and over again. Then I started getting more into nutrition, reading stuff by Michael Pollan and the like, and decided I needed to be eating a more varied diet.

Somehow it didn't initially occur to me to do that with my cats. I fell into the trap of picking a brand of food, just buying the "kitten lifestage" variety, and sticking with just that. Until recently, when trying to solve a digestive problem with Athena.

It finally occurred to me that the varied diet logic made just as much sense for my cats as it did for me. The more varied your diet, the more likely you are to get all the nutrients you need and not overdo it on anything in particular.

So now I'm in the process of trying out a variety of wet foods, seeing what they like, so I can start regularly incorporating a number of brands and flavors into their diet, rotating daily. It probably keeps their food more interesting too! And my hope is, it will avoid finicky behavior.

I haven't incorporated any raw yet. Still debating on whether or not I want to try that.

As for variety in their activities, I don't know if I do that so much. I obviously try to keep them stimulated, and they have a wide variety of different kinds of toys to play with, and get free run of the condo which gives them space to run around and chase each other. But honestly, I don't have a whole lot of variety in my own life in terms of behavior, I guess I kind of like routine.

The cats do come with me now and then when we visit my parents, but they have dogs, so the cats have to be cooped up in a room, and I always feel bad about that.
 

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They did actually! I started giving her 1/2 a 3oz can of Wellness every night (switching up between kitten and some of the adult flavors) to see how it would go. Her poo started smelling better pretty fast, so I'm now doing wet in the morning too. Each cat gets 1 3oz can a day, half in the morning, half at night.

They still have a little dry out during the day to snack on, but I'm trying to slowly reduce the amount of that. Still trying to figure out proper proportions of wet. I've also been switching their dry over to a grain-free variety (currently By Nature but I'm going to try picking up some Wellness CORE this weekend and switching her to that eventually), which seems to be improving the solidity of Athena's stools.

She seems like a much healthier kitten already!

After a ton of research and writing down different grain-free food options in a spreadsheet and comparing nutrition and ingredients, I've made a little spreadsheet of my faves (narrowed it down to a bunch of different flavors of Blue Buffalo Wilderness, Merrick, and Wellness). I'm excited to go pick them up this weekend to try them out with the cats! Hopefully there will be some winners in that batch.

I'm getting as excited about picking out food for my cats as I do for myself lately, if not moreso! XD
 

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I do some of the things you described. I definitely feed my kittens a mix of canned, dry (since they are kittens) and the occasional raw as a snack. Sometimes I will even give them a little canned fish or cooked meat while I'm making dinner if they've been good kitties. They have lots of different toys inside, and I take them outside at least once a week. I really wish I could take them somewhere like the park, but both of my cats are deathly afraid of cars :(

I will say that I notice a definite difference in personality/spookedness level between my two cats. I got Pumpkin on Good Friday, so I took her to my parents' house for Easter. She was a 6week old feral kitten, but she almost immediately took to playing/exploring at my parents'. The fact that there were 10 or so people didn't phase her either. Then, the next weekend, my flatmate and I had around 15 people over for a birthday party. She was very social during the party and played with my friend's boyfriend for several hours. Now she is a very social, sweet teenager that meets all of our guests at the door.

I adopted 8 week old Simone in July, and he was never really exposed to other people. Now at 6 months, he will only approach strangers if they give him a treat or play with him. Even then, he is super mistrustful and runs at the slightest noise/fast movement.
 
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