Cats-Wheezing in one, enlarged kidney in other

sweetchastityApril 5, 2010

Well I've been misfeeding my cats for a year or more! I got a plastic measuring cup for their food at the same time my mom got one for her dog and I mixed up the instructions. The dog gets 2 cups a day, the cats get 1 per day each. I've been giving 2 cups twice a day. Dustin is 16 lbs and Muffin is 11 lbs, but the larger male is wheezing a bit in both lungs. I've been feeding them Science Diet Adult Light but the vet says that is not going to help them lose weight. So I bought food from her to get their weight under control. The food I got from the vet's is:

IAMS Veterinary Formula Weight Loss/Restricted Calorie

both dry and canned.

I also got Medi-Treats Dietary Treats for Cats for snacks.

I was instructed to give 1 cup of dry in evening/at night and 1/3 can per cat wet in the morning. This will not be an issue for my female cat because she was a barn cat fed only once a day but the male is gonna have issues with it.

The vet said I could mix the new dry with their old for a couple of days but I'm concerned about disrupting their eating habits too soon, too fast.

Dustin didn't start packing on weight until he was fixed.

He also seems almost obsessed with his dry food. When I walk towards the basement stairs, I'm not always even going downstairs or to his food dish, he'll prance by me and go sit by his food dish (and most of the time it has food in it). Ok, call me weird but if his food dish is empty and I walk past it and ignore him I feel bad, like I'm hurting his feelings (can cats feel slighted or ignored?).

Another problem with Dustin is that I can't seem to get him to eat wet food. I tried once before to supplement his dry food with wet (varying brands and flavours) because I read cats get much of their water from their food and while he will sample some (mostly licking the juices) he will still turn and wait at his food dish for dry. He won't even take turkey or chicken (though he likes tuna but I have to cut that out now too). So if I put out wet food he'll eat a bit then leave and it goes dry. I'm not sure how to get him to eat it all in one sitting. Then Muffin will probably eat his wet so I'll have to monitor their eating carefully so both are getting what they need.

When I first met Muffin she was one of three 6 month old kittens (there were 2 older dogs there too) in a friend's barn and they got fed once a day. So when my dad and I brought over dog treats for the dogs, the kittens were all over us wanting food and I felt so bad for them that I was feeding them some dog treats. I felt terrible for them, maybe they were just hungry because it was first thing in the morning and hadn't been fed yet, but I was so upset that they seemed so hungry. And when Muffin let me pick her up and cuddle her, that was it, she was coming home with me! (I'd have taken all 3 but I couldn't afford it) When I took her home that day I made a promise to her that she would never go hungry again and I want to keep that promise. The vet said her left kidney is a bit enlarged and will take an xray of it but she's not showing any signs of problems so we'll just stay on top of it.

I know changing their eating habits is for their own good but I don't want to make a mistake and have them think I'm punishing them in any way. Would a cat feel like you're punishing them if you withhold food? Not by the act but by your behaviour, like if you aren't happy about it will they sense that and think something's wrong?

Maybe I'm overreacting but I am very sensitive and I want both myself and the cats to see this as a new way of being, not a stringent diet to shed pounds (ok I have weight issues myself too). I want them to be happy so any thoughts or advice you can give would be greatly appreciated!!

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No matter how much I feed my cats, they do not think it's enough.

They don't have the concept of punishment.

Feed less and more often. My Finney went from 18 to 14 pounds in a year by cutting his dry food to a handful, and giving him 1/4 can wet food 3X a day, added with a bit of water. The prescription diet the vet had me put him on gave him megacolon, so I just used OTC food and it worked.

Of course he was hungry. He was always hungry.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 7:47AM
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Cats will convince you that having eaten fifteen minutes ago means they're starving.

I'm very concerned about the enlarged kidney-maybe meghane will weigh in on that. Wheezing is abnormal too, I don't know if obesity contributes to wheezing in cats.

Get the dry food out of the house altogether. That veterinary Iams is as bad as Science Diet. They're both loaded with grains which cats lack the ability to metabolise so these foods can end up making them more obese. They can also contribute to chronic disease, such as diabetes, renal failure, and heaven knows what else. I turned my cats over from dry food entirely until they were all at a proper weight. It's much easier to get cats to proper weight with species-appropriate feeding. They're cats, not cows. Leave the grains out of their diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, so need to be fed primarily meat.

To make the transition easier, start by watering the kibbles that you currently feed. Then place the dishes within reach for 15-20 minutes. Pick up the dishes and clean them after that time, then NO MORE FOOD until the next meal. You're best feeding four times a day if you can, but twice isn't going to kill them. They WILL try to convince you that they're going to go skinny and die before tea if you don't go back to their kibble-on-demand schedule. Don't give in. Over time start adding grain-free, low-carbohydrate wet food to the moistened kibble, while reducing the amount of kibble offered. The cats will put up a stubbornness but please persist. Try offering a piece of plain meat as a treat too. Cat treats are usually made of wheat which should be avoided. Plain meat contains nutrients in a form that cats can metabolise, so it makes a far better treat food. My cats get real meat as the primary food source, augmented with commercial grain-free, low-carbohydrate tinned food. I admit that I do keep kibble on hand, but it's a grain-free variety that is ONLY offered as treats no more than once daily. A tiny sack of the kibble lasts for weeks and weeks with SEVEN cats.

Incidentally, I had two cats who would go overweight very easily, two others who had interstitial cystitis with crystals, one with tentatively diagnosed IBD, one with patchy fur and itchy skin problems. Guess what? These problems no longer bother my cats. Although there is no way to claim that diet alone healed the problems, it certainly helped. The heavyweights are within the middle of their healthy weights, the cystitis cats have shown no symptoms of discomfort urinating nor crystals in lab tests, the itchy patchy cat is not itchy and the patches have grown in again, and the IBD cat is eating well and only throws the very occasional hairball.

Our vets are peeved that I did this without the very expensive "prescription" diets (that the cats didn't like anyway). They keep trying to find something wrong with my cats so they can justify their position that the toxic 'prescription' diets are the only way to have healthy cats. ONE vet in the practice is completely supportive of my position on proper cat nutrition and only looks for signs of malnutrition so that we can supplement appropriately. One other is 50-50 about it, the last one is adamantly against my feeding non-"prescription" foods.

Good luck with your kitties!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 11:29AM
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Thank you so much for replying! Right now I'm not working so I've plenty of time to feed them 4x/day. I've already started making some change to my feeding habits. Where once I'd see the bottom of their 2 bowl dish and add a full cup each side I now shake the bowls to spread the food out and add 1/4-1/2 cup (leaning more to 1/2 cup when its nighttime) and that seems to satisfy Dustin. I also try not to rush to put food in or even check it (I peak out of the corner of my eye) and get Dustin used to the concept that even if his dish is really low I'm not going to run to it immediately. I don't know if it's going to ease his mind but its certainly making me feel better.

If I switch to a non-prescription food my vet will have no problem with that. When mom's dog had to go on a 2 ingredient diet, not only to lose weight but to clear up other health issues Misty was suffering from, the vet first told my mom she could try cooking for Misty before going to the food she carried. She provided a website we could find recipes on and my mom tried but both mom and Misty couldn't manage it and so she went to the vet's dry food Sensitivity. Misty has lost 20 lbs and only suffers from ear issues when mom slips back into giving her some table scraps. I really like this vet because my mom's old vet never tried to eliminate the problem with Misty's ear, just prescribed drops and cleaning whenever it flared up and never gave my parents a reason why it was happening. This vet identified the problem and watched Misty's weight-loss carefully (never charging for those visits). So if I choose another brand to feed my cats as long as its a healthy choice and they lose weight safely she'll be happy.

Thank you both for your insight and expertize! I'm going to look into what I can get from the pet stores around here (in Canada). When my mom returned the moist food and dry food she first tried with Misty and switched to another offered by the vet they refunded her the full price even though the bag of dry was open and a couple cans were used from the case of wet. I can return the food I got since its not opened but I'm not sure what food to switch them to. The food I got actually says on it that its for intermittent feeding only. Wonder if I should use it while I explore other options in the area and switch then?

The vet also said cats are primarily nocturnal so they eat more at night so to give them dry at night. If I'm feeding 4x/day this would be in the daytime so would that be ok for them?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 5:08PM
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And yes the kidney and wheezing scare me but I suffer from anxiety so I'm trying to keep calm until I get more information.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 5:19PM
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If Dustin won't eat wet food at all, look into EVO dry cat food. It is grain-free and low carb. They now make a weight management version that is lower calorie (dry EVO, while a terrific dry food, is very calorie dense, so you have to feed very little in order for cats to get the calories they actually need). We bought it recently and our cats like it as well as the regular EVO. It is high in protein, so you might want to get the vet's ok for Muffin since she has a kidney issue.

Also, my cats didn't like the regular canned EVO but love the 95% Chicken and Turkey canned food. It comes in two can sizes BTW. I split one can (5.5 oz?) between my two cats' bowls once a day, adding some water to make the food a bit soupy (I fill the emptied can about 1/4 can or less with some hot water, stir it around to mix in all the remaining food and juices, and then add some to each bowl of food).

My cats also get the EVO dry food, as I'd mentioned above. We actually toss 1/2 their portion to them to chase(one "pebble" at a time--they think it's a game!) and they get to hunt for some of their food, and they get some needed exercise as well. The rest of their dry food is poured in their bowls, along one side of the bowl, on top of the wet food (they get very little total dry food, if they manage to lose some weight once they're fully transitioned over to the weight management food, we'll bump that am't up a little).

With the exception of spreading out the feeding into tossed dry food and bowl food, our cats get fed once a day. They used to eat all the food in their bowls by the time we were done in the kitchen for the night, but now they eat it over the course of the evening and while we're asleep. They know they won't get fed again until dinner time--sometimes one of them will try to convince us it's dinner time much earlier than it's supposed to be, but they don't cry for food all day long.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 9:35PM
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I have a very obese cat and 2 skinny so I need to follow the instructions above too.

On the wheezing issue, my fat cat was diagnosed with seasonal allergies. She has asthma. Her wheezing showed her lung area almost all dark and had to be put in an oxygen cage. She now goes on prednisone from April (should be starting up soon) until the end of November when all the green finally dies off.
It's a pain in the neck but she doesn't seem to mind.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 1:09PM
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My pudgy Dustin started sneezing last night and is still sneezing today, could that be allergies, a cold or a bad sign with her wheezing? He's lying by the fireplace right now to get warm. He doesn't sneeze often but last night he sneezed 6+ times in a row then every few minutes a single sneeze for a bit after. This morning its not as bad, maybe 3-4 sneezes and the odd one occasionally afterwards.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 12:13PM
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""My pudgy Dustin started sneezing last night and is still sneezing today, could that be allergies, a cold or a bad sign with her wheezing? He's lying by the fireplace right now to get warm. He doesn't sneeze often but last night he sneezed 6+ times in a row then every few minutes a single sneeze for a bit after. This morning its not as bad, maybe 3-4 sneezes and the odd one occasionally afterwards.""

Maybe it's a good idea to ring the vet. It could be allergies, it could be dust, something could have got caught in the nasal passage. It could even be a broken or infected tooth! All these cause sneezing. I know there are other things too.

I have a cat who sneezes, three or four in a row, then not sneezing at all for weeks (that I know of). Vet has no idea what it is. He doesn't wheeze, he doesn't seem to have allergies, his teeth and gums are healthy. I did have a cat who sneezed very much like that, and he turned out to have resorption lesions! Poor thing was in pain and I thought it was nothing. I still feel guilty about that. Treatment? The tooth removed, no more sneezing.

I also point out that the vet is giving bad information about providing dry food at night. Dry food, even grain-free, is loaded with carbohydrates that the cat dosn't metabolise. Because kitty's body doesn't recognise carbs as food, kitty is hungry and eats even more, and gains weight. There is no reason to free-feed at night. In this house full of felines there's a snack at night before I go to bed, This could be about a quarter of a meal's worth of plain meat or the grain-free low-carbohydrate tinned food. I take up the dishes, wash them and put them away until breakfast. The cats raise heck for a half hour with their burst of late night energy, then squabble for ten or fifteen minutes, then settle in to a quiet night of snoozing with us humans, doing their rounds (going from window to window to see what's out there) or quiet play. Mine are a bouncing healthy lot.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 1:38PM
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