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Sunday, April 11, 2010  

Cat Diet II

It had been about a year and a half since the last time I brought either of the cats to the vet. I had almost forgotten what it's like to have only healthy cats that you don't have to bring in every two or three weeks for more bad news.

The last appointment had been for Exie, who had weighed in at twelve and a half pounds, which for a cat his size is what scientists call borderline-tubby. This time I brought Phantom in. She was due for shots, and I wanted Dr. M. to take a look at her teeth after her oral surgery last year. Lately she's started chewing on paper when she gets the chance, which is fine with me but M. Edium doesn't appreciate bite marks on his art projects and I wanted to make sure it wasn't a sign of something.

The good news is that that's apparently what cats do, and her teeth are in great shape. But I noticed something while we were waiting for the vet to come into the room: away from Exie, she looks rather bigger.

Sure enough, the bad news is that she weighed in at about twelve and a half pounds, or borderline-tubby. I don't even know what Exie weighs, but I know it's more. Maybe even a lot more.

So of course, since they're indoor cats and most of their exercise comes from jumping on my lap, the next big questions were what, when, and how much we feed them. I explained how we just feed them regular food (as opposed to the kinds with all the letters in them that we used to have to buy at the vet, during vet office hours), and try to keep their bowls from getting empty. And if we ever do forget to check that there's enough to last them the night, they're only too happy to remind us. Usually when we're asleep.

Dr. M. said that "free-feeding," as this is apparently called, wasn't working any more, so it was time to start controlling the amount of food they get. I didn't feel like splitting hairs with her about how we do control the amount of food they get; with the stuff living on top of the refrigerator in sealed Tupperware containers. So she said maybe it was time to start limiting their daily feedings to three quarters of a cup, between them, once a day and once a night. Reducing it more might freak them out, but reducing it less might end up with them eventually being confined to one floor because we have to cart them around the house in a wagon.

So she gave me a plastic measuring cup (which is good, because it means I can return the one I was using back to he measuring-cup drawer) and sent me on my way. And I know it's too early to tell if the reduction is having an effect. It is not, however, too soon to tell if it's an actual reduction, which I don't think it is.

Used to be one of us would just fill the bowls every day and a half or so. Now I measure out three quarters of a cup -- roughly three eighths per bowl -- morning and night. Yet still, their bowls are never empty. I can see part of the bottom of one of them sometimes when I fill them, but that's it. I'm supposed to be feeding them less, but I'm feeding them more. At least in frequency, if not amount.

The other night I was talking about this to Trash, and how I worried that the food "reduction" wouldn't have much effect on their weight if it wasn't an actual reduction. She had one question for me:

"Wait, so you're feeding them too?"

She's lucky she was kidding.

posted by M. Giant 10:01 PM 7 comments

7 Comments:

Same thing here. My cats were HUGE, and I was barely feeding them! The only thing I could think of was that their metabolisms had become paralyzed in the face of years of constant inactivity, so it didn't matter how little I fed them. I think I got down to 1 cup a day, period, and still- fatties. Go figure.

By Anonymous Koleen, at April 12, 2010 at 4:41 AM  

I have three cats; a momma and her two hellion offspring (whom I love with all my heart). Momma is normal sized, the other two are super-sized at 14 and 17 lbs. Per the vet, I also had to stop filling the bowl as necessary and I feed them a total of two cups per day.

Momma remains normal, the other two remain super-sized. I would think the chasing each other through the house all night that commences the moment the lights go out would help, but apparently not.

By Blogger kjax, at April 12, 2010 at 6:43 AM  

One of my cats was fat, fat, fat, and I was already feeding her the diet amount recommended on diet cat food. I took her to the vet, and my vet suggested soft food. She said cats are supposed to be predators and eating mostly protein.

I switched to the soft food, and the cat lost weight.

My brother has dubbed her Atkinscat.

By Blogger Ali, at April 12, 2010 at 8:56 AM  

Seconding the effect of soft food. A vet explained to me that it's partly because wet food has a lot of water. Also, that "cats are desert animals" and tend not to drink as much water as they need (I guess they're not camels, then) so wet food is an important health move.

Now our cats eat grain-free food too; most of them get dry food but the oldest one gets wet food because (a) dry food and stress made her pee blood eventually (which is why we were at the vet) and (b) she lost a lot of her front teeth. I guess grains are not natural for them to eat and are just empty calories, basically. (Although I question the "not natural" argument to some extent, since their current cat food has venison and freaking blueberries in it. Do cats normally pick blueberries and bring down deer? Maybe. I never met a bobcat.)

I found that Taste of the Wild was the cheapest good dry food (i.e. grain-free, healthy ingredients, no weird filler, no meat "by-products" or animal "meal" or whatever) and I don't remember the wet food that is the cheapest here.

We're lucky to have a local chain pet supply store (the incredibly fabulous Pet Food Express) in the Bay Area where everything is buy 3 get 1 free. So basically all our cat food and litter is 25% off all the time. But for people who aren't so lucky, I just found onlynaturalpet.com. Their prices aren't 25%-off-low, but they're really low for organic natural blah blah goodness. And you can set it up to automatically send you the food or litter you need every month. If it weren't for PFE I'd be jumping at it, but I decided that at least for now it's worth a couple bucks' savings for me to drive to the store and haul it all home.

For now.

By Anonymous Dani, at April 12, 2010 at 9:48 AM  

Third vote for switching to wet food and high-protein, grain-free dry. I also use Taste of the Wild and my cats love it. Of the five (in my defense, only three are ours-- the other two belong to my stepdaughter), four are nice and sleek and one is, essentially, a fur-covered bowling ball. She's regulation-- 16 lbs!

Wet food is the way to go. Some of the enthusiasts on my Bengal lists insist that raw is the REAL way to go, but that ain't happening with me.

By OpenID sharoncville, at April 12, 2010 at 1:12 PM  

You laugh, but I have friends who had the "Wait, so you're feeding them too?" conversation about their two obese dogs. Only they weren't kidding. And of course the dogs weren't going to complain. This went on for months before they caught on, and only because the husband wondered why they were going through dog food so quickly.

By Blogger Sammy, at April 12, 2010 at 2:43 PM  

My girl is going to be twelve this August and I have tried wet food, diet food, less food, etc for years. I finally put her on Taste of the Wild, a little over 1/4 cup a day (she's 12 pounds and that's all she was getting of the other kinds of food) and she shed weight like you wouldn't believe. A lot of foods have filler (corn!) or other grains that the animals don't need and all it does is pack on the pounds.

By Blogger Auburn Tiger, at April 12, 2010 at 9:26 PM  

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