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Switching from Free feeding to Schedule. Help!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hey all! I've finally decided to do it and switch them onto a schedule. I have two cats; one is fine freefed, but the other.. well.. He sleeps, and gets so hungry, he must eat. He uses the litter box, and must eat. He plays for a few minutes, and must eat. He is petted, then must eat.

He's getting bigger!

So now I've decided for his sake that we need to take him off free feeding. We've been doing that for 9 years, the whole of the time we've had him.. So..

Any suggestions on how to start off and start easing them into it? Not to mention, a schedule? How often do you feed? Should I feed them different amounts since one is a good weight and one is obese?

Also, Toby has a tendency to scarf his food down, then throw it back up--how to resolve this?

Thanks!
post #2 of 14
What are you feeding them now? Is Toby the one that is obese? It sounds like he is possibly diabetic or on his way.

You should take him to the vet for a complete check up. If the vet recommends more dry food or a different type of dry food, don't do it.

If you are feeding them dry food you need to switch them to canned. It is vital for Toby's health to do so, but it is going to take a lot of time and patience. If he has been eating dry for 9 years, he is addicted to that type of food but you have to be very careful on how you switch them. You can't just put down some canned food and expect them to eat it and like it. Plus their system has to adapt to it, so switching has to be done slowly.

Also the most important thing is *do not withhold food from Toby for long periods of time* to do that would be very dangerous for a cat in his condition.

For now, feed them in the morning, lunch time and supper time. In your effort to switch them to canned, buy various small cans to start with. My cats like Natural Balance, Venison flavor and Organix, Turkey & Chicken flavors. Some might like Wellness, Innova/EVO, Nutro, Authority and several other brands. The important thing is to check the ingredients. Avoid grains and too much fish. If the ingredients says, "animal liver, or by-products" be leary, because you don't know what "animal" the meats are coming from.

Offer them a small amount of the canned in the morning, see if they eat it. If they don't, and chances are they won't, wait 10 mins. then give them some of their regular dry food. Give them just a little bit less than what you would normally give them. Let them eat. 30 mins later take the dry food and put it away.

While they are eating their dry food, leave the canned food out by their bowl of dry. This will help them get used to the smell of it. If they won't eat with the canned nearby, just push it away a bit, but don't take it away completely. After 30 mins. when you take away the dry, take away the canned too. No matter how much they cry, don't feed them again until lunch time. And repeat once again. The important thing is not to starve them! You want to use the *normal sensation of hunger* to entice them to try the new food.

If Here are some links for you to check out.

http://www.catinfo.org/index.htm#Tra...o_Canned_Food_

http://www.catinfo.org/#My_Cat_is_Do...ne_on_Dry_Food

http://www.catnutrition.org/index.php

Don't worry with a healthy change of diet your cats will do much better, especially Toby
post #3 of 14
Lot's of good advice above.

I'd like to add one more thing: Make sure there is only one person in charge of the feeding or that everybody knows if the cats have been fed. I switched from free feeding to scheduled feeding last year, for similar reasons as the OP. We kept wondering why Milla wasn't loosing any weight, until we realised we had been double feeding them in the morning: First one woke up, gave them food and went to school, then other re-filled the cup before going to work because those hairy little imps lied about getting their breakfast. Now we have a system to prevent this, but Milla still tries to fool me every morning.

About the vomiting: Larger sized food might work: Toby would have to chew properly.
post #4 of 14
First have a vet check them out and recommend how much your overweight cat needs to lose.

I would start by feeding them in separate rooms to control the amount. Whatever the amount of food the vet recommends to lose the weight - divide that by 3-4 meals. If its a half cup of food, then give a little less then 1/4 of the amount 3 times a day - gradually you want to be down to morning and evening meal.

You will have to endure a lot of "starving" cats with meows and begging, but be firm. Also you need to increase the overweight's cat exercise by playing more. It will take awhile, you don't want the cat to lose too fast and the weight didn't gain fast, so it might take a few months.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
I took Toby to the vet a few months ago for a checkup and they didn't say anything about diabetes. =)

They already love wet food. I give it to them as a special treat, so I don't think the adjustment will be too tough. While I can definitely make sure they get the food they needs in the morning and at night, I'm not entirely certain about lunch time; school and work interfere.

Is there a way to counteract that?
post #6 of 14
I, too, am wondering which foods you are using...

I suspect the culprit behind Toby's "getting bigger" (provided it's actually an overweight issue...do you know how to assess a cat's "figure"?) may be an issue of carbohydrates...

I hope you carefully consider Shanynne's advice. I get concerned when I hear anyone use the word "switch" when referring to their cat's diet. I regularly post this advice: "switch" needs to be a slow transition.

Shanynne's references are written by a Veterinarian who has a well-deserved respected reputation as a knowledgeable Feline Nutrition expert. Her advice is solid.

AND - I also suggest you read another part of her website, the part about the necessity of very slow weight loss. You should probably buy a baby weigh scale.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
--EDIT--Huh. That science diet thing is very, very strange. I'm not sure why vets would recommend it if it promotes obesity and diabetes. o.O

Toby doesn't need to lose MUCH weight at all, especially not when compared to the 30 pound cats in the aforeposted articles. He's only between 15-17 lbs and is becoming more active; I think if I put him on a scheduled diet of mostly canned food, which he will eat (he loves that stuff), then that combined with the exercize he's been getting lately (we've been taking him on walks and such) should do the trick and get him to lose two-three pounds. At least, that's my theory!

--Edit again!-- Does anyone have a suggestion for a good, but not super expensive, brand of canned cat food? I want to make sure they're getting enough protein.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
What canned-food would you recommend?
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiery View Post
--EDIT--Huh. That science diet thing is very, very strange. I'm not sure why vets would recommend it if it promotes obesity and diabetes. o.O

Toby doesn't need to lose MUCH weight at all, especially not when compared to the 30 pound cats in the aforeposted articles. He's only between 15-17 lbs and is becoming more active; I think if I put him on a scheduled diet of mostly canned food, which he will eat (he loves that stuff), then that combined with the exercize he's been getting lately (we've been taking him on walks and such) should do the trick and get him to lose two-three pounds. At least, that's my theory!
Oooooops! I've quoted what you previously posted, not your edited edition. I think it's general knowledge that the Vet colleges have not, until fairly recently, provided unbiased (petfood industry-free) solid nutrition education to students. Apparently, it's getting better...but, one has to wonder.

Remember, too, Vet practices are businesses - and, there's a lot of $$$$$$$ to be made from the so-called prescription diets. (I find it sooooo ironic that these companies first sell "cat poison" to the public, then, through the Vets, sell the alledged antidote!)

Quote:
...I think if I put him on a scheduled diet of mostly canned food, which he will eat ...
You certainly have the right idea...the "recipie" will be the key as to whether/not it will work.

High protein, high fat (if he's active...i.e. exercising), low carb, grain-free wet food will do it for you. Without "pushing" any particular brand, here's one example. The first six varieties are grain-free.

If you can't be around to feed fresh through the day, there are two possible options I know of,,,if the ambient temperature in your home is moderate, you can put out a meal of wet food (add water to make it "soupy) before you leave. That way, they can both have small meals of that while you're away. Many people have qualms about leaving wet food out...I (and my 6 cats) have no such problems...the food does not "go bad", nor does it develop nasty bacteria, etc, etc.

If you're not comfortable with that, you could use a high protein and fat, low carb, grain-free dry food, leaving perhaps a small bowl for both cats. Again, not recommending any particular brands, Orijen and Wellness Core are two such foods.

One more point. In nature, cats will eat several times a day - small meals each time. They're not like big cats (lions, tigers) who eat fewer but larger large meals. Their systems are also designed such that, if they eat infrequently, the urine which is produced tends to become very acidic. When they eat, it becomes less acidic, more alkaline. So, people who feed their cats infrequently, risk having cats whose urine is more regularly acidic...a predisposing factor for urine crystals. The lesson? Provide several small wet meals through the 24 hour day.
post #10 of 14
canned food is MUCH easier to get reasonable quality ...

ie if you have a walmart budget there are some foods even there///... if you shop at a big pet store there are LOTS of choice s...

JUST an FYI to do your own research as I agree alot with the vet quoted but will note she has different ideas from other holistic vets.... key is to research
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
We keep our temperature around 65-70 so that shouldn't be too much of a problem I don't think.

I don't know if the kitties would eat "soupy" stuff, but I could certainly moisten it. Then again, Toby likes to drink water out of my cups and drink stuff from the shower a ton, so maybe he wouldn't have a problem with more watered-down stuff. Trina, for certain, wouldn't mind.. her favorite thing in the whole world is yoghurt.

We're just about out of dry food, so I'll start seeing what I can do to change their eating habits tonight. ANY suggestions, shameless propoganda for foods that you all feed your cats would be appreciated, because I have NO idea.
post #12 of 14
http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...ighlight=foods

this thread was written with that in mind
post #13 of 14
Quote:
...We're just about out of dry food, so I'll start seeing what I can do to change their eating habits tonight.
Remember.........NOT overnight........make the changeover ever soooo s - l - o -w - l - y
post #14 of 14
Sharky has many posts on quality food at decent prices. She is our resident expert when it comes to food.

As for switching, usually this is a problem when switching dry foods but rarely an issue with wet food.

In fact, some cats don't have an issue switching either wet or dry - our two have been switched to a different dry a couple times now with no issues.

A wet food diet is far better for your cat and will help to lose weight and as the others have said, losing the weight slowly is the only way to do it, otherwise you could put your cat's health at risk.

You may have to try different wet foods before you find the one(s) your cats will eat. Ours will not eat any pate type of food. They will really only eat Merricks and then only 2 flavours. Try to stay away from Fancy Feast and Sheba - those are OK for a treat but not good nutritional choices. Do a bit of reading in this forum and you'll find many, many threads about food and lots of wonderful advice from Sharky.
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