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Should I put her on a diet?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Nano is a 6-8 year old adult spayed cat. She is 24" long and 8" wide when she stretches out so this is a big kitty!

She currently weighs 14 lbs. When I rescued her as a stray a couple months ago she weighed a touch over 5 lbs and was in horrible condition (fur problems, abused, barely able to walk). The last vet student who saw Nano last week said she could stand to lose a bit of weight.

If Nano was coming from a good background, I would probably try to get her down to 11-12 lbs. But seeing as how she has been starved and abused in the past, I think putting her on a diet would hurt her disposition and socialization more than help her physical health. Except for the "tummy droop" you see with spayed cats, Nano seems to carry her weight fairly well on her frame without too much hanging over the sides.

I give Nano unrestricted feeding -- I top off her feed bowl in the morning and at night, but she is free to eat as much as she wants. At some point I might be living with my girlfriend and her cat, and my girlfriend pointed out that Nano might dominate the food supply. But I don't think that's fair -- Nano has a steady appetite but she is not an agressive overeater.

So would any of you suggest putting a cat who is still a recovering stray on a weight loss diet?

And if Nano is going to be introduced into a multi-cat household using unrestricted feeding, will she really gobble up all the other cats' food?

IMO, I think my energy would be better spent working on her socialization rather than nitpicking the weight issue. What do you think?

(In hindsight, I agree letting Nano gain 8-9 lbs in less than three months was not ideal but I was doing the best I could under very bad conditions.)
post #2 of 18
First I want to tell you that you did a wonderful thing rescuing this kitty - congratulations to you and to your lucky cat, Nano!

Nano has gained a tremendous amount of weight in a very short time. While it's good that she's gained weight, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Obesity in cats is just as dangerous for them as it is for humans. Since a vet student has already told you Nano could lose some weight, you should try to slim her down. You can do this gradually - no need for drastic measures.

Unfortunately, if you continue to leave food available all day, this will be very difficult.
You didn't mention which foods you're feeding in particular, but obviously you're giving her dry food. Dry food is high in carbs and many low quality brands contain unhealthy ingredients like sugar and salt which also contribute to weight gain.

According to Anitra Frazier, author of "The New Natural Cat", obesity can be caused by leaving food available between meals. Her primary feeding rule is to remove food between meals and she advises two meals per day for healthy, adult cats. Her philosophy in caring for cats is to stick as close to nature as possible. In the wild, cats eat once per day - if they're lucky. They go through times of natural fasting, which gives their bodies time to "deep clean" themselves. The intestines, urinary tract, lungs, even pores of the skin get a "good housecleaning". The "fast" that would be provided for a cat who eats 2 daily meals is a short amount of time as it is to give the body a chance to process food and accomplish necessary waste disposal. You take away even this short amount of time by leaving food available 24 hrs.

I'd highly recommend Frazier's book - it contains much more info on this subject than can be quoted here.

At the very least, you should cut down on the amount of food you give her - as someone on the board once said, feed the cat, NOT the bowl! If you fill bowls to capacity, even if they're small to begin with, you're putting out too much food. And don't go by what it says on the package or can. Those are general guidelines and keep in mind they're written by the company who wants you to buy their food.

Because Nano was a stray, she may still be overeating because it wasn't that long ago that she didn't know when she'd get another meal. Her survival instinct tells her to eat as much as she can NOW, while the food is here. It can be hard for strays to lose that feeling but she will in time.

My advice would be to get her on a high quality canned food, in controlled portions, twice per day and no dry food in between. Though you don't want to make this change abruptly, you should work toward it gradually. The first thing to do would be to leave less dry food available - no more "topping off" the bowl!

I agree with you that working on socialization is important, but watching her weight is too. You don't want her developing secondary health problems because of it. Work on these things simultaneously - you can do it!

Thanks again for all you've done for Nano!

PS - Try to get her to play more - use interactive toys like "Da Bird" (feather toy at the end of a wand). Exercise burns calories!
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply.

Right now I feed her "Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care Superior Indoor Cat Nutrition".

In the early days, Nano would snarf her food and get sick. There were occasions she ate an entire bowl without pausing. At the time, that was 200% of her daily recommended intake according to the weight/feed chat on the side of the bag. Thankfully she is beyond that now and eats less and at a much more leisurely pace, but I don't know how Nano would act if there were multiple cats in the household.

I don't always come home at the same time. Some days I might be done by 4 PM or sometimes it might be 11 PM. I know that's not optimal but it can't be changed right now. It is one thing for Nano to go without food from evening until morning when I am in the apartment, but if she is alone for 16+ hours and is hungry...that's not good. I am still trying to build her confidence that I am her "forever" owner who will take care of her for rest of her natural life.

As for exercise, I can get her to play TurboScratcher and she will go at that for about fifteen minutes at a time. I don't know how much she does when I am away, but I can tell it was used at least somewhat on most days. I'm always looking for more games where she can get exercise.

Now to the point: I hadn't rated her extra couple pounds as a priority, but I am willing to adjust!

Today I went to Petsmart to buy a dozen large tins of Nutro canned food and another dozen large tins of the Petsmart generic brand. I am going to keep to my existing plan for another couple weeks (to bring her up to the three month point since rescue), but after that I can use your plan on the days I expect to be home early and use my old plan on the days when I expect to be late. So it'd be 4-5 days of two fixed meals of canned food and 2-3 days of the unrestricted feeding on dry food.

Is that a step in the right direction?
post #4 of 18
Hi Nano - yep, a step in the right direction. You gotta walk before you run, right (LOL)?!

I think the Nutro is fine, I don't believe it has inferior ingredients in it. I'm not familiar with the Petsmart brand. Read labels. Things to stay away from are by-products, corn, wheat, artificial preservatives and colors.

Don't worry about your erratic schedule. As long as you are feeding (eventually!) two high quality meals per day, you don't have to feed at the exact same time. Remember, Nano's body has a chance to totally digest her food and clean itself out between the meals. If a few days a week the time between meals is longer, it's still ok. Nano will be hungry when you get home, but she won't be starving. She SHOULD get hungry. You don't want a cat lying around with a full stomach 24/7. That's not healthy and it's not natural for a cat.

If there are days when you are going to be gone a particularly long time, instead of leaving food out all day, get an automatic cat feeder. You can put a snack (not a meal, no cheating!) in it and set it to open at a specific time. That will tide her over til you get home and no doubt make you feel a lot less guilty! You can get one from www.DrsFosterSmith.com. It has two compartments and uses 1 AA battery. It's $34.99. I'm not sure if it contains an ice pack, though. I have some that do which is useful when you're leaving a snack of canned food.

If you can get Nano up to two 15-minute play sessions per day, that would help burn those calories, as well as keep her healthy and happy. Every so often "rotate" her toys - put some away that have been out a while, and put new ones out. Try trailing a string along the floor behind you as you walk - that should get her moving!
There's also a great interactive toy called a Cat Dancer - there's nothing much to it, but most cats love it because of its springy action, and it's safe - no bells or string to swallow. Get the Cat Dancer Compleat version - it comes with a little pad shaped like a paw that can be attached to the wall so that Nano can play with it by herself.

I'm very glad you're making the weight loss a priority along with the socialization. They are both crucial to her health and happiness. Sounds to me like you've done a terrific job so far!
post #5 of 18
The Petsmart brand sold here is 'Authority" and it is a very good quality premium food. I am looking at the label on the Lamb & Rice: lamb broth, lamb, poultry liver, ocean whitefish, egg product, brown rice, rice flour, guar gum, potassium taurine and then vitamine and mineral suplements. I also feed it to my guys and they like it.

Kathryn
post #6 of 18
If you do need to put your cat on a diet, there are science diet pet foods you can use. There is a type of science diet pet food for cats. There's also one for dogs. I tried it on my dog and it worked! And you could tell he thought it was DELICIOUS as well as healthy.
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks!

I added the time release system to things I will check into. And I am always making a wishlist of toys for Nano. Just to be clear, Nano is fairly active already and has a frisky attitude.

I can't remember which was on sale, but the Nutro and the Petsmart were both ~$0.75 per can so they are good quality. The Authority is free of "by-products, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives" and Kathryn said the rest. Believe it or not, Wal-Mart sells one type of catfood that is $0.12 per can?!

GIjaguar979 suggested Science Diet. Should I give it a shot in addition to the Nutro and the Petsmart brand, or does it really matter?

Now here is a dilemma -- should I go with Lite, Adult or Senior food? I've been using Adult but maybe Lite or Senior might be options. Nano is ~6-8 years old which is around the 7 year mark most Senior foods recommend. But isn't Lite usually reserved for lethargic cats?

Anyway, I'll be working on it!

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nano
Thanks!

I added the time release system to things I will check into. And I am always making a wishlist of toys for Nano. Just to be clear, Nano is fairly active already and has a frisky attitude.

I can't remember which was on sale, but the Nutro and the Petsmart were both ~$0.75 per can so they are good quality. The Authority is free of "by-products, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives" and Kathryn said the rest. Believe it or not, Wal-Mart sells one type of catfood that is $0.12 per can?!

GIjaguar979 suggested Science Diet. Should I give it a shot in addition to the Nutro and the Petsmart brand, or does it really matter?

Now here is a dilemma -- should I go with Lite, Adult or Senior food? I've been using Adult but maybe Lite or Senior might be options. Nano is ~6-8 years old which is around the 7 year mark most Senior foods recommend. But isn't Lite usually reserved for lethargic cats?

Anyway, I'll be working on it!

I woudl try the indoor for seniors ..since nano is that age.. it has less protien and calories but the same l-carnitine(sp) that will help with lean muscle mass and fat metabolism...
My kids eat nutro mainly with merrick and authority canned
post #9 of 18
I think you'll be fine using the regular adult version of food as long as you control the amounts you're feeding. I have a 16, soon-to-be 17 year old kitty, so I kinda chuckle at 7 years old being considered "senior"!

Science Diet: sorry to say, I would not recommend this brand. Though they make some prescription foods that are useful in the short term for cats with specific health problems, I'd never use their maintenance (meant to be fed on a regular basis) foods.
It contains ingredients you don't want to feed your cat. Unfortunately, this brand is very commonly sold by vets. For this reason, many people are under the impression that it must be good, but it's low quality food at a high quality price.

It's a good idea to give Nano a few different flavors and/or brands of food, so if she likes both the Nutro and Petsmart brands that's great.

Since Nano is playful, that will go a long way toward helping her slim down.

PS- 12 cent per can cat food? I don't even want to know what's in it!!!
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by KTLynn
I think you'll be fine using the regular adult version of food as long as you control the amounts you're feeding. I have a 16, soon-to-be 17 year old kitty, so I kinda chuckle at 7 years old being considered "senior"!

Science Diet: sorry to say, I would not recommend this brand. Though they make some prescription foods that are useful in the short term for cats with specific health problems, I'd never use their maintenance (meant to be fed on a regular basis) foods.
It contains ingredients you don't want to feed your cat. Unfortunately, this brand is very commonly sold by vets. For this reason, many people are under the impression that it must be good, but it's low quality food at a high quality price.

It's a good idea to give Nano a few different flavors and/or brands of food, so if she likes both the Nutro and Petsmart brands that's great.

Since Nano is playful, that will go a long way toward helping her slim down.

PS- 12 cent per can cat food? I don't even want to know what's in it!!!
you havent seen my girls eat..lol... control isnt in the cards since Kandie went to premium...
post #11 of 18
Authority Canned Lite is a good food. I use it. For dry just switched from SD Lite (cat throwing up) to Wellness Lite Dry
post #12 of 18
One of the strays we adopted was a major overeater at first. He's gradually gone down to eating a normal amount, although he panics if the food bowl is ever empty. I think the eating habits will normalize as it begins to sink in that the food is not going to dissapear anytime soon. Try to make sure she stays active and give her tons of attention. It's what's worked best with our strays.
post #13 of 18
Nano please do not put your cat on a diet without talking to your vet first and getting a vet recommended eating program for your cat. Especially considering that your cat was abused prior to the cat arriving in your home, a diet has to be approached cautiously.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by cinderellie
One of the strays we adopted was a major overeater at first. He's gradually gone down to eating a normal amount, although he panics if the food bowl is ever empty. I think the eating habits will normalize as it begins to sink in that the food is not going to dissapear anytime soon. Try to make sure she stays active and give her tons of attention. It's what's worked best with our strays.
Buddy was the same way. Gobbled his food at first and would throw up. Food was his single motivating factor for that first week at least. Once he got his fill and realized he could still get food when he wanted it.. and it sank in.. he quit his binge eating.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
hissy, the vet student mentioned she could stand to lose a little weight but no one was able to give me much guidance beyond that. I tried pressing for more information but all I could get was "well, start by trying the lite-version of whatever you are feeding her now" and that was where we left it. I have taken Nano to the vet school's clinic three times and I have not seen the same student or instructor twice.

So I try to use this forum to fill in some of the gaps. If Nano has clear symptoms indicating a problem, of course she goes right to the clinic and gets treatment. But sometimes it is just my inexperience about what is normal or not -- and I am using these forums to smarten myself up.

Today I tried an experiment where after Nano ate I put up the food tray and attended to other things. It did not go well. Now I begin to see even if Nano isn't eating she was checking to make sure the food was still there. So I think there is a lot more socialization work to do...and part of it getting it clear in her mind that there will be more neglect. She is no longer binge eating but she does keep an eye on the bowl. (Maybe in the past she went unfed due to owner's indifference?)

I need to be honest with myself and admit Nano does not yet trust me 100%. Not to belabor the point, but there is a lot more socialization work that needs to be done.

In the next week or so I will am changing my working hours and my schedule will be adjusted. I think I will take Nano off the Nutro dry food at that time (~90 days since rescue) and convert to canned food. I had planned to try out both Nutro and Authority (aka "Petsmart brand"), but since it got a handful of favorable recommendations I will focus on Authority canned food. But sorry, today's experiment showed that now the two meal a day diet is not going to happen anytime soon.

It's just an ongoing process...and thanks for all the replies.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
"part of it getting it clear in her mind that there will be more neglect"

Obviously that should read: there will NOT be more neglect

(Can't find the edit button?)
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
The bag of Nutro food is finally finished. I'm not putting her on an actual diet but I will be re-arranging her eating habits as she continues her recovery from being a stray. Most of the replies had good information but I've decided some of it isn't relevant or helpful to Nano at this time. It is definitely filed away for later.

http://www.placervillevet.com/feline...0condition.htm

According to that chart, Nano started at about 1-2 and she is now at 6. While I don't want her to get any bigger, I don't think 6 is enough of an issue where I should interrupt the other goals for things that need to be done. She needs routine in certain areas of her life.

I will be switching to Authority Adult Indoor Formula (dry food) and Authority Adult (canned food). While there are no infections, Nano's teeth are simply not 100% and she was struggling to chew the hard Nutro food pellets. It helped her to eat more slowly but I don't want her to have to work too hard or associate pain with trying to eat. Authority is about the same quality and about the same price, yet it is easier to consume and she likes it just as much as the Nutro.

Thanks for the answers and I think this thread is done for now.
post #18 of 18
Good luck with Nano... hopefully this is the start of a slightly trimmer Nano
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