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Do skinny strays turn into fat felines?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Baby Girl is my little 8-pound, year-old tabby kitty. She used to belong to the neighbors, and when she got to me she was skinny--her ribs and hips both stuck out. I think she must have weighed about 7 or so pounds; for a cat that's perfect at 8 pounds, that's really skinny.

Anyway, I started feeding her properly, and she naturally filled out into the little beauty you see here, chowing down and showing off her pretty mackerel tabby stripes:

Thing is, she still acts ravenous despite her obviously normal weight. She knows she no longer has to constantly cry for food (she was constantly mewing and begging when I got her here at first); but whenever I put down food, she's got her face in it, scarfing it down like it'll disappear if she lets go of it. It won't--Tiny, who weighs a long, lean 10 pounds, never bothers her food, and sometimes doesn't eat all of his own (at which point she eats it).

She gets Purina Naturals dry food, mainly; I keep trying to see whether she'll eat canned, and sometimes she does--but it's pretty obvious she's not used to it and it will take a while to get her eating canned food every day. (Tiny still turns up his nose completely.)

Anyway, I'm wondering whether I've got the makings of a fat kitty here, if I don't watch out. I want her to be healthy; I play with her every day; but she still doesn't get it that she doesn't have to snarf down everything in sight!

Does anybody have experiences with skinny, undernourished cats? Once they got a proper diet, did they turn into food hogs and get fat; or did they stay normal-sized? Should I make sure Baby's getting what she needs and no more?
post #2 of 16
My experience has been that former strays tend to turn into big kitties if their portions and weight aren't carefully monitored. My boyfriend has three big (16-20 pounds each) cats. One came to them as a half-starved kitten, one was adopted from the shelter at the age of 4 months, and the third was a stray rescued from the streets when his tail needed to be amputated due to a severe break. Of the remaining two cats, one was heavy until recently (she's 18 years old and in CRF) and the other was adopted at about 7 weeks old from the shelter and has never weighed more than 7.5 pounds her entire life.

With my kitties, Willow was adopted from the shelter when she was almost a year old. She was never more than 8.5 pounds, and usually less. Spot was a rescued stray with hyperthyroidism. He ate like crazy as a result, but probably would have been a fat cat had he not been hyperT. Odo was a shelter kitty who was brought in as a stray. He's overweight at 12 pounds 7 ounces, and we're working on trying to get his weight down. Zek, who has only been with me for a little more than a week, is healthy at about 10.5 to 11 pounds.

I would monitor the amount of food you feed each day. If you can get a scale to help gauge whether you're feeding too much, that might be very helpful. If possible, have scheduled mealtimes at the same time each day--the routine may help Baby Girl know when to expect food. Keep up the regular exercise too, as that will help her stay at a healthy weight.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
OK. So my concerns aren't completely off the map... Is 3/4 cup dry a good amount for a cat her size? She usually gets 1-2 treats a day, too. And she's starting to play a lot more as she begins to feel not just healthy but safe. Now she's using her energy for exploring and playing rather than trying to keep herself "safe"! (Can you tell I'm seriously enjoying seeing her blossom? There's just nothing like rescuing a neglected kitty to make you feel appreciated!) You should see her jump... oh my goodness... she can jump two feet into the air after a feather toy!

They have separate feeding stations; I have three mealtimes a day. (Tiny's still less than a year old; I figured it was a good idea for him.) 8:00 a.m.; 4:00 p.m.; 10:00 p.m. with a computer reminding me when to feed them.

Good idea to put her in the bathroom for her mealtime, and take the food up afterwards? I don't want Tiny to get any skinnier, though; he's already at the bottom of the range for his size, and a growing kitty still! He'll learn that the food's only out for half an hour... but will he learn it before it stunts his growth?
post #4 of 16
Buffy probably doesn't count, because she was a stray for only the first 3-4 weeks of her life, but she's pretty slender, probably the best weight of my three girls (Willow's ribby and could stand to put on a pound or two, and Molly could stand to LOSE a pound or two). I don't know Molly's background, but I'm pretty sure she was owned by a person at some point, due to her sweet nature. But I found her lost outside, just slightly underweight and 5 months old, and she's now a chunky monkey (11lbs). She's more solidly built and stocky, but she does have the one or two pounds she should probably lose. She'll always naturally weigh more than my other two skinnies, but it'd be nice to see just a little more definition, lol. She's already lost a little bit of weight since going on a RAW diet, which is soooooo cool; gives me hope that she can continue to lose a little more weight while still getting enough food to satisfy her (which is the icing on the cake, IMO, lol. A hungry Molly is a scary Molly)
post #5 of 16
I have heard the term opportunistic feeders used for strays. They get used to always eating when food is available and eating all they can because they don't always have food available. After she has finished eating she isn't really still hungry she has just had it so ingrained to always eat when there is food around.
post #6 of 16
For Tiny, you may want to devise a box with an opening only big enough for him to get into. That way he has access to food all the time but Baby Girl doesn't. I think the bathroom feeding station for Baby Girl sounds fine. The amount of food is variable. It depends on how many calories there are per cup and what your cat's activity level is.

This site has a calculator to determine you cat's caloric needs and how much food to feed based on that:
post #7 of 16
I've heard that some cats will overeat [if they had a background where they didn't eat often] because they mentally don't know when their next meal is coming from.

I would cut the dry good back to about 1/2 cup per day or if you leave it out for her to nibble on, stop. Just leave a small amount out (like 3 -5 oz) while you get ready in the morning and feed her the same amount when you get home.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Tiny's actually bigger than Baby. She weighs 8 pounds, he weighs ten--but he's skinnier because he's meant to be maybe ten and a half pounds, and she's perfect at eight...

So basically I'm not dealing with a fat cat here; I'm dealing with a food hog I want to make sure doesn't get fat in the first place!
post #9 of 16
Butzie was 2 when we adopted her in June. At her first vet visit, she was 7 lbs 11 oz (remember this because daughter Jenny weighed that at birth). The other 2 times she has been to the vet since then she has hovered around the same weight, give or take an oz. I feed her about 1 1/2 cans of wet food. I throw in some dried food or treats in the mornings. I think she has a fast metabolism. I don't!
post #10 of 16
I've had PJ since 6 weeks. He's a food hog. He will trip you(tripping is an art with him) to get your food.
post #11 of 16
I think it depends on the cat and the new environment. My little Saba was emaciated when I rescued her. She was 3 lbs. She has grown to a fat 4.5 lbs! But for the first 6-8 weeks she ate ravenously. She wanted to each everything. I gave her wet and dry food, she initially preferred the wet. I also provided her with a robust big brother in our beloved 21 lb Sasha (RIP ) who would eat a dinosaur if he could....and her appetite settled down at 3 months to be just dry food. After 2 years, she shuns wet food and treats (!!) and only eats dry food. She will have a tiny piece of boiled chicken once in while, but I thought she would balloon up to be a butterball --she didn't!

She is indoor only now. She shows no interest in the outdoors. None.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
I do give chicken as treats--little bits, whenever I eat chicken. In moderation, that's not bad, is it? I mean, pure protein... little bit of fat...

I'm going to test various types of wet food. The more protein, the better, right? And I'm staying away from bone meal and by-product meal, because that's just gross (and kind of inedible anyway).
post #13 of 16
Treats aren't bad--you just have to adjust their normal food intake as a result, since they still have calories.
post #14 of 16
Originally Posted by cloud_shade View Post
Treats aren't bad--you just have to adjust their normal food intake as a result, since they still have calories.
Yes, splendid idea and good advice. Plain Brown Tabby (Pat) on this site, you can find her online store on the marketplace board, has the best 100% natural, organic treats - all kinds!
post #15 of 16
IT can be normal for strays to do this, my foster mum cat is like this at the moment. Sometimes, they settle down adn realise they dont have to eat everything in one go as they wont get anymore food for a while, but sometimes it stays with them, in those cases, I think the only thing to do is to split their food up, so they are getting the right amount of food, but in more portions so the cat thinks they are getting more. I am going to have to start doing that with my foster now, as she is up to a decent weight now (she had kittens, so was thin when she came, but she felt good this mornign when I picked her up!!)
post #16 of 16
My stray barn cat got bigger and bigger once I started to feed her. She grew so much that I thought she was pregnant. Once that was ruled out, I took her in to be spayed and the vet found a spay scar!

She's a cow and I don't feed her any more than my others and they look Ok.

I have before/after pictures that would blow your mind!
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