reducing weight on an obese cat

luvdogsNovember 5, 2011

In January i adopted an obese 8 year old cat from the shelter since they were going to pts due to weight and age.

Very sweet black tortie - her weight was about double the ideal.

Long story short - i am now giving her a small amount of diet kibble twice a day. She acts hungry, she feels lighter to me but when i weigh her she's still at 15 pounds. I lock her up to feed her as the other cats get temporary free-choice so i know she's not getting extra food anywhere.

I guess my question a cats' body real stubborn about losing weight (like the set-point theory in people?) I recently took about 10 pounds off an obese dog and that was pretty straightforward. This feels different.

She now has a waist and some loose sagging skin but if you saw her, you'd still think "fat cat." I don't get it.

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OP here. I've been working on this latest feeding type for 2 or three months now. (not since i got her in january)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 9:36PM
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When I finally got serious about taking the extra weight off of my household of fat cats, I adopted a three-point strategy.

1) Remove the all-day kitty buffet and start feeding scheduled, portioned meals instead.

2) Switch to a low-carb/high protein kibble (Innova EVO), and swap one kibble meal for canned (kibble a.m., canned p.m.).

3) Weigh all cats every two weeks (1st and 15th of each month)on a digital baby scale. Adjust food portions after every weigh-in, if necessary, to achieve 2-week weight loss of between .2-.4 lb. Any cat who lost less than .2 lb during the previous 2 weeks had kibble portion reduced a little. Any cat who lost more than .4 lb during the previous 2 weeks had canned food portion increased a little.

The ultimate dietary goal was to minimize kibble in the diet while gradually and safely achieving optimal body weights in the cats. I started this feeding strategy in 7/07. It took about 18 mos to return all of my cats to optimal weights. Now, more than 4 yrs later, I still weigh all of my cats every 2 weeks, and I still adjust food portions, as necessary, to maintain those optimal weights. Most of my cats eat 1/8 c of EVO kibble for breakfast and between 2-4 oz of canned food or RPM (Raw Prey Model) for dinner.

I would bet that the so-called "diet" kibble you're feeding is high-carb and not doing your cat any nutritional favors at all.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 12:07AM
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I have two obese cats and two normal ones. The normal ones are older so I free feed all day, because that's the way they have always had it and I want them to maintain their weights of 9 and 10 pounds. Enter Henry and Annie, not related. Annie's mother is the 10 pounder and Annie is 20. But Henry is 24 and is a load. If I didn't have the older two , I wouldn't free feed.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 1:38AM
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I had a fat cat, too.

I fed him just under 1/4 can food 3X day (last one before bed). Maybe a few kibbles as treats. He lost weight gradually and successfully. It takes time.

Also, I have said this before and every vet I consulted agrees with me:

1. "Fat cat" kibble food designed for them to lose weight increases the bulk in their stool. This is not a good thing and increases the risk of Megacolon.

2. Kibble is more likely to put weight on cats.

3. Most important: wet food increases general hydration and helps prevent urinary tract problems.

4. Never free-feed.

5. I usually, if not always, listen to Laurie.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 6:42AM
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It's funny Laurie, our cats gain weight/have trouble keeping it in check with EVO (which we loved as a food). It's soooo calorie dense, they have to eat a very small am't of food total (we feed a portion of their daily food in dry, a portion in canned), and still gain weight on it.

We've been doing a food trial/elimination diet for the past 3 months (Royal Canin P/D dry and wet) for overgrooming issues (didn't help, awaiting blood test results). At least both cats dropped down to their "fighting weights" while on the RC food, and they got at least the same am't of dry food (as they had gotten with the EVO) if not more, and same am't of canned. Have to decide what food we will try/use after we finish up the RC (expensive to keep them on it, given that it's not helping anyway).

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 11:05AM
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That's absolutely true, cat_mom. EVO is very high-calorie and must be carefully portioned to avoid weight gain. I found that out in a hurry when I switched my cats to it. It was a shock to me to see how little of it I had to feed, after having spent 50 yrs free-feeding various high-carb kibbles. Still, I stuck with EVO because it was the lowest-carb kibble I could identify on the market at that time (and may still be), and I really wanted to remove as much carb from my cats' diets as possible. I would have eliminated kibble entirely if my kitty kids weren't so in love with it. But I figure 1/8 c. a day isn't going to adversely affect their hydration to a significant degree, so the cats who were raised on kibble still receive that small amount.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 12:23PM
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We've never free-fed our cats, they've always gotten a measured out portion of dry food and wet food. Ours got 1/2 a can (EVO 95% Turkey and Chicken) per day, and between 1/16-1/8 cup of dry (EVO) per day, closer to 1/16 I think. With the RC, they still get 1/2 a can each, and a "full" 1/8 cup of the dry. It's low carb (pretty much just duck, duck liver, peas and pea flour), but it is much pricier than the EVO.

I can't really justify keeping them on it since it's not helping the over-grooming issue in either cat, and I'm sure there are other foods at least as good and probably better nutritionally.

I'd been becoming somewhat disenchanted with the EVO over the past year or so, for reasons beyond the weight gain (which we weren't thrilled about). Found a piece of plastic in one can of food, the food in a few cans (on one or two occasions) was grey and nasty-looking.

Will have to start researching our options.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 7:48PM
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same here- meat & protein low carb diets work for cats - they are among the most carnivorous of all animals - except for grass and grains in the stomach of their prey they just dont get much carb naturally in the wild. My fat cats slimmed down nicely on a high protein mostly meat diet that was very close to being no carb at all. Another thing happened - they seemed satisfied with their meals and weren't whining for more. Whenever I switch back (out of convenience) to dry, even the EVO or purina kitten food (40% protein) I notice in change in them - they would gobble up their food and then whine for more... and the weight comes back even though I dont let them feed freely.

I compare it to my addiction to tortilla chips!!! Especially when bored in my office cubicle - somehow I can chow down a whole bag of those. When I'm off junk food though and eating well - I dont miss it.

Prob spay and neuter has something to do with change in metabolism as well.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 11:09AM
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I like giving our girls a portion of their food in dry form. One, it keeps our options open in any and all situations (this way they will eat either type of food if one or the other is not available to us for any reason). Also, we toss 1/2 their dry food portion for them to chase or "hunt", one "pebble" at a time, for exercise. They really enjoy this "game" and seem genuinely disappointed when we're finished throwing that day's pebbles.

Just need to find something that's really good for them, like the EVO, but less calorie dense.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 8:58PM
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There is nothing wrong with a calorie-dense diet (particularly if canned) as long as you feed it in the proper proportions. The goal is not to let kitties eat lots of food, the goal is let them eat the right food... so if that means EVO is a good, high protein, low carb diet, then it sounds great to me. I have found that fat cats on all-canned diets have a very hard to time keeping their weights up, and almost all lose weight (unless owners give them ad lib). Carbs are generally the problem, and there do not exist any low carb dry foods (they keep trying to make one, and one day they may succeed, but so far, low carb dry foods fall apart and taste bad to cats as well). Cats are not dogs and their weight problems are very different.

I have, however, seen some cats lose weight on dry food, but it took months of strict portion control that almost seemed cruel at times... but it worked and this one doctor's entire obese colony slimmed down. Now, however, multiple cats in this colony have serious digestive maladies and i cannot help but wonder if they aren't somehow due to strict dietary control with a high carb food. Or maybe it was just their time? Hard to know without a control group I guess.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 11:18PM
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