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How to succesfully get a multi-cat family to diet?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
We've got 7 cats, all very different in so many ways, but unfortunately they all now share one common thing - they're all overweight. Their ages range from 8-14, and they're all domestic mutt cats, and they're all indoor kitties. Most of them are overall fairly healthy aside from the weight, a couple have got health issues either caused or exacerbated by their weight.

Currently they're on a free feed dry food diet, since most of them never touched the wet stuff and the one who did touch it tended to be prone to diarrhoea. They all drink enough water, and have normal litter habits, so that's not much of a concern.

We really need to cut back on the food they consume, but we're not quite sure how on earth we're going to go about it. Feeding them in separate rooms is really not an option, since we don't have enough rooms in the house (at least not enough rooms with doors) to do that, plus corralling 7 cats every day, or even twice a day, would be impossible (I spent 45 minutes just trying to corral 2 cats this morning!)

We're probably looking at a very measured free feed, where the cats learn when it's dinner time so they don't miss out I suppose? I can already see so many issues arising already, including some cats eating the lion's share, while the lamer, older or more timid ones get none...

Has anyone got any ideas or suggestions?
post #2 of 8
what are you feeding???
post #3 of 8
You might want to try reducing the food by, say one bowl. Rather than having a bowl for everyone, fill fewer bowls and less in each bowl.

I have cats that range in weight and I put 1/4 cup in 3 bowls for the day.

CLEARLY all are getting enough, even though one is particularly enthusiastic about eating, if you know what I mean.

You may instead want to offer NO free feeding and put a 1/4 cup or less of dry food in 7 different dishes before work, making a ritual of breakfast time. Do the same thing at dinner.

The protein in the dry food needs to be pretty high because the cats will need more of the higher cereal content dry to get the nutrients they need and they gain more weight with the carbs. However, since all cats have their peculliar preferences, you may have try some samples to get the right food combo.

What kind of dry do you feed now?
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Oh of course, I knew there were details I was missing! :P

We're feeding 6 of them the Iams weight formula... We have a local pet food store (literally a block from here) that sells a lot of the natural brands such as the wellness and others, but generally we tend to go for the convenience of the grocery brand.

Mimi, psychocat from hell (who lives in her own room, which doubles as my study), is currently on the hill's r/d, although I'm very nervous about giving her measured amounts because she has, umm.. personality issues, which tend to lead to her peeing on the floor when she's displeased (started off as a medical thing which was long ago cured, but she got into the habit of if she's grumpy, peeing on the floor is a fun way to show it!). Still, I'm starting her off on a cup of the r/d tonight after I leave the room, so she'll be alone with her food supply, and definitely won't pee on the floor tonight, who knows about tomorrow afternoon though! eeps!

Unfortunately the r/d is soooo expensive that I don't think we could afford to feed 7 cats on it, just feed 1 cat on it is tough...

Edit: Luckily and unluckily, our cats aren't finicky, and will eat just about anything put before them (including mushrooms, peas, pea soup, oatmeal, you name it... *sigh*)
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by lauraG View Post
You may instead want to offer NO free feeding and put a 1/4 cup or less of dry food in 7 different dishes before work, making a ritual of breakfast time. Do the same thing at dinner.
Currently the 6 of them eat out of one giant food dish, a large dog sized dish with the silo with kibble up top. I have a hard time even imagining 7 dishes, because what self-respecting cat sticks to their own dish? None of ours, that's for sure

We do have a long narrow dish that mother bought (originally meant for serving appetizers or something equally silly), that we've dubbed the trough, which we'll probably end up using as the main dish once we switch to measured amounts, which means that up to 5 heads can fit around it at once, because they're all little piggies!
post #6 of 8
You can see by my siggie that I have a large household. I have some that I consider slightly underweight and a few that are overweight. I free feed, but make them work a bit for their food. Food is up on top of counters or the dryer and they have to climb or jump for it. Water is scattered throughout the house. Litterboxes, cat condos and toys are scattered throughout the house, forcing them to go up and down stairs. I do this to give them at least a little bit more exercise.

I've switched mine from grocery store and vet brands over to better quality foods that have less grains and that is helping them. I limit the food in their bowls and force the issue of them eating a wet food meal each evening by feeding them at 7 PM sharp. My wet eaters love that time and the dry eaters come along to be with everyone else.

Interestingly, the cats with the best weights are those that love wet food. You can get them switched over to it. I had to do that with my Stumpy after he had all of his teeth removed. I have a very lengthy word document on that process that I can e-mail to you if you like. Send me a PM with your e-mail if you are interested.
post #7 of 8
Try three dishes maybe ???

Purina naturals NOT one IMHO is the best most grocery stores offer

Wal mart Maxxium is decent

Costco premium is GREAT for the $$

if you can get to a pet store Nutro max or Chicken soup would be good and both are reasonable $$ and good quality
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I live downtown so a lot of the things such as walmart are way out of my way. We don't do costco either. But I believe the local pet food store has the nutro max, and they might have or be able to order the chicken soup. I'll try and pop over there tomorrow to see what they have in stock. I know that they are willing to deliver food too, so it would suit our convenience needs too

I've often though about "enrichment" type activities for finding their food, mostly because I watched so many episodes of Zoo Diaries. One of the big issues is we have 1 very lame cat, and 1 cat who's semi-lame, that and the lack of surfaces, but I might just try and figure something out, making sure of course that the lame one is either helped to her food, or fed seperately.
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