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Unread 08-16-2009   #1 (permalink)
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Default Fat Cat - Advice?

When we got Bree, it was pretty plain to see she was overweight (my sister asked me if she was pregnant). Her last owner free fed her using an automatic feeder - letting her eat however much she wanted, whenever she wanted. Since we got her (have had her for just over a month now), I've cut her down slowly and now she eats 2/3 a cup a day. How much should a 1.5 year old cat with a small build be eating? The feeding guide says 1/2 - 1 cup a day, but I know feeding guides on dog/cat food should be taken with a grain of salt.

Also, her stomach is very... flabby, for lack of a better word. This might be an odd description, but it's not just fat, it's loose, as if she had a large litter and her stomach never went back to shape after that (she's spayed). Weird, I know.

This is the first cat I've owned since I was 6, so I don't know a thing about pet owning. Any advice? I've tried to get in contact with her previous owner, but I'm not getting any replies. Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

Other than her weight problem, which we're working on, she's an absolute dream. Has never gotten in trouble, never been up to mischief, and is perfectly content to nap by me all day and get petted and scratched. She purrs like a motor and is a huge sweetie. She follows us everywhere!

Last edited by GraceT; 08-16-2009 at 02:56 PM.
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Unread 08-16-2009   #2 (permalink)
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Hello and welcome ! There are several things you can do to help Bree get back down to a healthy weight.

2/3 cup of dry food is way too much food for an indoor cat. However, it is very dangerous to cut back too fast.

The first thing to do, really, is to get Bree in for a check up. It is very dangerous for an over weight cat to lose weight too quickly. Your vet can advise you as to how much overweight she is, and how long it should take for her to reach her healthy weight.

There are special prescription foods that are very high in protein, 50% I think, that your vet may want to prescribe. These high protein foods should only be fed under your vet's supervision, and are not meant for long term use.

If no special food is required, she should be on as high a quality of food as you can afford. Avoid foods with a lot of grains and by-products listed under the ingredients. A meat protein or meat meal should be the first two ingredients. Avoid wheat and wheat gluten.

Feeding: Scheduled meals are best. If you are feeding kibble, measure out the entire amount Bree is supposed to have in one day and keep in a separate container.. Feed from that only during the day.

You can even cut the meal portions from three to five or six. Say she's getting a half cup of kibble a day. Give her two 1 tablespoons servings in the morning half an hour apart. (there are about 5 tablespoons of kibble in one half cup)

Give another when her snack time is, but make a game out of it. Play Chase the Kibble Game. Toss a kibble for her and let her chase it down. Repeat. Do this with one of the one tablespoon servings. Maybe do that when you're busy in the kitchen. Keeps her occupied and not begging.

When you sit down to your meal, give her a meal, and save the last serving for after Games.

You can also sneak more exercise in by feeding her on something that involves a jump or two, to get to the dish, and a jump or two to get back down.

You can add a little water to some of her servings. This will not only slow her down (slower eating I mean), but also make her feel more filled up. Start with only a little, maybe a teaspoon of warmish water. If she tolerates that you might try a little more.

Don't leave any uneaten kibble with water added to sit, as bacteria will form after a while, and it won't stay good.

*if you are feeding canned food too, portions sizes will be adjusted to take that into consideration. half cup serving of kibble was used as an example only, your vet can tell you what to feed, and how much.


Last edited by acerlt; 08-16-2009 at 03:48 PM.
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Unread 08-16-2009   #3 (permalink)
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Default oh about that udder (hehe)

That flap under her tummy is very common. I call it their udder!

My Mazy had one when I adopted her from the shelter at 6 months old. She's five years old now, and the most active cat in the house, she never stops running and playing, but she still has the udder.

Jennie, on the other hand had probably 3 litters (according to my vet) before I rescued her and had her spayed. She doesn't have an udder, but she has a funny round pot belly that makes her look fatter than she is.

So Bree will probably always have that udder, but you can certainly get her to a more healthy weight. Hurray for you for caring so much about her!
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Unread 08-16-2009   #4 (permalink)
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Default exercise

Once you have a diet plan to follow, it is also important for Bree to get plenty of exercise. How old is she? Sometimes a cat that is not used to a lot of vigorous play will be slow to get motivated. Don't give up though, because as she loses, she'll feel more energetic and want to move more. The more a cat plays, the more she'll want to play.

I advise getting down on the floor with her every night at about the same time. She may not seem interested at first, but after a week or two she'll come to realize that this is a very special time for her and you, and she'll look forward to Game Time with you.

Offer a variety of games, don't become discouraged if she isn't lively right away. For instance, try to play Chase the Crumpled Paper for two or thee days in a row. If she's still not interested, the next night try a wand toy Game. (aka String On A Stick). A few days later bring out the Crumpled Paper again. And so on.

Cardboard Box Forts and Paper Bag Forts and Newspaper Tents can help stimulateBree's imagination, too.
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Unread 08-16-2009   #5 (permalink)
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First off, thank you for your quick and highly informative reply. I a learning new things about cats by the minute!

My intention was to continue cutting down Bree's food, though I did not know when would be a good amount to stop at. When she first came home, she was eating over a cup of food a day. I've been slowly cutting down a bit day by day.

My vet agreed she was overweight, but did not prescribe anything. She only recommended Science Diet, a brand I am very doubtful about and would not wish to feed my dog, and do not think Bree would benefit from it. Bree is currently eating the bag of food she came with from her previous owner, but I will be transitioning her to high quality food. I was thinking Orijen (which is what I feed my dog - 70% meat 30% vegetables and fruits 0% grain). But Natural Balance is cheaper and also good quality, and I'm making a trip to PetCo next week.

Which would you recommend?

As for her belly flab, it's not just under her belly... her entire stomach is just flabby.

Bree is extremely lazy and has no motivation whatsoever. While she can be enticed to attack a comb (playfully) or go after a string and feather toy, she is bored very quickly and always stops playing to groom herself or wander off. Her exercise involves jumping on my bed and jumping off my desk... and then that's it. She's not motivated by food, and won't touch it unless it's in her bowl. I will try playing various games with her, though.

Thanks again for the advice.

Also, what are the benefits of scheduled feedings vs. free feeding for cats, if they eat the same amount every day anyway?
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Unread 08-16-2009   #6 (permalink)
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You're welcome!

Orijen and Natural Balance are both good foods. Go for the one you can afford.

I prefer scheduled feedings for a few reasons:

~If you dump all her food in her dish at one time, and she eats it all at once, then she has nothing until the next day. Cats can suffer anxiety if they think they will be hungry. And their hunger pangs hurt.

She will cry and cry for food. Who could resist such cries? Then..there she is over fed, again.

A feeding schedule will help keep her from having that anxiety. It won't take her long to learn what times she can expect to be fed.

It also helps to prevent scarf and barf.

~If she doesn't eat it all at once, it sits all day, gets stale and rancid. Every time she nibbles on it she leaves saliva and bacteria on the remaining kibble. By the end of the day...ick.

~Meal times, at least in my house, are special bonding times. Each cat has his or her own Meal Spot. Each cat has his or her own little ritual to go along with the meal.

As Bree loses some weight she will feel more energetic. Don't give up on play. Even if she just lies on the floor and bats a paw at a string, rolling over once or twice, that is exercise. Any bit of exercise is better than no exercise.

Choose a special time every evening to be Game time. She will soon come to know that when she sees you turn off the computer, or brush your teeth (or whatever) her special one on one time with you is about to happen.

Grooming can be done at this special time, too. some cats love to be groomed and will twist and roll to make sure you get every spot. That, too is exercise. some cats prefer to walk around and force you to crawl around after them with the comb. That's exercise too... for both of you!


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Last edited by acerlt; 08-16-2009 at 10:43 PM.
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Unread 08-17-2009   #7 (permalink)
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Studies have shown that cats fed a can of food a day lose weight faster than those eating kibble. This is because a cat's normal diet consists of rodents in the wild that are 85 % liquid. And you will not find an overweight cat in the wild.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kathie View Post
Studies have shown that cats fed a can of food a day lose weight faster than those eating kibble. This is because a cat's normal diet consists of rodents in the wild that are 85 % liquid. And you will not find an overweight cat in the wild.
Hi Kathie, Rapid weight loss is not a desirable thing in a cat. It is very dangerous for an overweight cat to lose weight too quickly as her organs will shut down, and liver failure is common.



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Last edited by acerlt; 08-17-2009 at 08:33 AM.
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