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Old 09-08-2009, 10:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default My cat wants to eat every 2-3 hours...

Hello, I'm new to this forum and trying to get some advice about how to help my 7yo spayed female kitty (Taz) to lose some weight. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

I recently transitioned my 20lb, 7yo kitty Taz from dry food (Purina indoor formula) to wet food in an extremely belated effort to get her to lose some weight. Some background: we have been to the vet recently and she has had all normal bloodwork and no sign of worms (as you can probably guess by her weight!).

The transition from dry to wet food went really smoothly, which was a relief since I've heard how addicted to kibble some cats can be. This one LOVES wet food as long as I buy her the chunky, flaky kind and not the pate type. She absolutely hates Wellness (which I learned after buying 13 cans of it at once!) but she likes Weruva - and she LOVES Fancy Feast Fish and Shrimp (which I started her on before I was able to get to the specialty pet stores because I read that it is actually a relatively high quality wet food for a grocery store brand - no byproducts or wheat filler). I plan on feeding her mainly Weruva and a bit of that particular flavor of Fancy Feast since she loves it so much and it's cheap and seems relatively healthy. By the way, does anyone happen to know the calorie content of Weruva? I've read that it is lower calories than other cat foods but can't seem to find anywhere that says exactly how many calories it is per can.

Anyway, my main question right now is if she is still in that habit of snacking all the time should I go with that for now and let her slowly adjust to just eating twice a day? When she was being fed dry food I would give her 2/3 cup in the morning and in the evening but she would always leave a little bit in her bowl and cry for more before she'd finish what was left. I think it is because she was starved as a kitten and is extremely insecure about her bowl being empty. Now that I'm feeding her wet food I don't feel comfortable having her leave food in the bowl for long periods of time but she refuses to eat it all at once. I was going to try giving her one can (3oz) in the morning and again in the evening but she seems to only eat about half at a time and then she will try to save it and go back to it about 2-3hrs later. When I noticed that I started giving her only half a can at a time and then the other half when she meows for it. But I'm afraid that I'm only encouraging her constant eating habit and want to know if I need to be more strict about switching her to 2-3 larger meals/day or if it is ok to continue with the 4-6 small meals/day. No matter what I do think I want to eventually switch her to 2-3 meals/day but I'm just afraid to do it too abruptly since I know she's used to eating on a constant basis.

Wow this has gotten long, thanks if you made it this far! Ever since I've started worrying about her diet it's become a total obsession, who knew you could worry this much about your cats eating habits? I worry how it's going to be when I have human babies, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it! Thanks again for your advice/suggestions.
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Old 09-08-2009, 11:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat wants to eat every 2-3 hours...

Quote:
she LOVES Fancy Feast Fish and Shrimp
Cinderella's all-time favorite!

I put down their wet food in the morning and leave it. It's usually gone when it's time for their dinner. I notice on the weekends that it may take them a few hours to eat it, but I think that's fine.

My girls don't care for pate style either. You may want to try Merrick. They have lots of chunky gravy food.
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Old 09-08-2009, 11:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat wants to eat every 2-3 hours...

The first thing to know is that is doesn't matter how many meals a day as long as the calorie count is appropriate. Did I read it right...you were feeding 2/3 cup dry in the morning and 2/3 again at night? For a total of one and a third cups per day? That's a whole lot of food!

You can't just transition her from that kind of calorie intake down to the amount you would feed a 10lb cat for maintenance (6 oz of wet). She thinks she starving and she is, dangerously so. You could actually trigger hepadic lipidosis, a condition where a cat's body starts using stored fat and overwhelms the liver, which begins to fail.

A cat needs between 20 and 25 calories per pound depending on activity level. At 20 lbs and, I assume, low activity level, Taz needs about 400 calories per day to maintain her weight. To lose weight safely, you shouldn't cut her calories by more than 10-15 percent, so she should be getting 340-360 calories per day. One 5.5 oz can of Weruva chicken is something like 84 calories...only about 25 percent of what she needs. I was only able to find caloric info on FF Medleys which come in around 160 calories for 6 oz....about half of what she needs.

I recommend that you purchase a pet or baby scale (about $75 on amazon) and monitor her weight weekly and adjust her food intake based on the numbers above and changes in activity level as she loses. You don't want her to lose more than a pound per month. So if she's losing at a faster rate, she needs more food. You can call FF and Weruva to get calorie counts on the foods she likes.


[Edited to add] I did a quick check...1 1/3 cups of Purina is over 500 calories per day, an average cat needs about 240.
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Old 09-09-2009, 03:11 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat wants to eat every 2-3 hours...

I've actually read that it's 15 calories/pound for a very inactive cat up to 25 calories/pound for a very active cat (when I researching diabetic diets in cats).
You have a 20 lb pound cat, so feed her the amount of food for a 19 lb cat. The weight loss needs to be slow and consistant, so she loses fat and not muscle. Once she reaches 19 lbs, start feeding her like she weighs 18 lbs. Weigh at least twice a week and record the weight.

There are several sites out there with info on the calorie count for various wet foods. Assuming that you don't have a cat with other health issues, aim for a lower carb, higher protein food. Cats are genetically designed for a high protein diet. There are a few dry cat foods that qualify as high protein, lower carb. Avoid wet foods with gravy - they are higher carb foods and should only be used as a treat.
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat wants to eat every 2-3 hours...

and dont forget to play with her so she can get some exercise. if you have stairs in the house have her chasing her toy up and down the stairs. i dont know if thats too much for her heart because of her weight, but im sure some type of exercise would be beneficial for her.
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat wants to eat every 2-3 hours...

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for your responses! I had no idea a large can of Weruva had only 84 calories, I've read that before but I thought it was for the 3oz can not the 5.5oz one. I guess I definitely need to be feeding her more than 6oz a day for now until she gets used to eating less. She just LOVES to eat so I wasn't sure if I should be letting her eat that much or try to be more controlling about how much/when she eats. Seems like I need to ease her into a bit more than I originally planned. Thanks again for all your advice! I will be giving Weruva a call today to find out more about their calorie counts.
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:22 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat wants to eat every 2-3 hours...

A good article on weight loss for cats:

http://www.thepetcenter.com/imtop/catweight.html

In reference to Mo4's comment that the caloric range she's seen is 15-25 calories per pound...what I've seen is that if you go to 10 sites, you'll get 10 slightly different ranges. So pick a reasonable starting point and manage from there. The idea is to know how many calories the cat is consuming and whether it's losing, maintaining or gaining weight on that level and be able to make adjustments to facilitate the direction you want to go.
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:52 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat wants to eat every 2-3 hours...

Thanks again guys, this is great info. I will probably buy a pet scale now as I have been trying to weigh her by taking her on the scale with me and subtracting my own weight (not very accurate!). For now I am going to increase the number of cans she is getting and leave a little bit of dry food out to see if she will nibble on it in case she gets really hungry (she has been avoiding it entirely since she knows she can get wet food if she holds out).

I try to get her to exercise but it is pretty difficult since I live in a small studio and she doesn't have very far to run. We have a penlight that she will chase but she generally gets bored of it after 5-10min or so. Does anyone have any other ideas on how to get her to play more? I've tried cat toys but she has no interest in them, preferring to play with stray rubberbands which I don't like to leave out for her when we're not home because I'm afraid she might swallow/choke on it. When we were at the pet store the other day my husband was looking at the mice and joking how we should get one to put in a ball to run around the house. Of course that would be too cruel to the mouse, we're just out of ideas on how to get her to play more.
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Old 09-09-2009, 12:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat wants to eat every 2-3 hours...

The scale is definitely a necessity for this effort...you're dealing in ounces and need something that is geared towards showing that increment.

Be very careful about leaving out 'a little dry food'. Dry packs a lot of calories in a little package. An 1/8 of a cup doesn't look like much at all, but it represents 25-33% of a normal weight cat's diet. Do the math and measure it carefully. Personally I think you'll have better success without it, way too many carbs in dry food that end up turning into fat...
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Old 09-09-2009, 10:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: My cat wants to eat every 2-3 hours...

Sigh, so I jinxed myself. I was so happy that Taz has been eating her wet food and turning her nose up at the dry food...Well this morning before I left for the office I tried giving her one of the other brands (besides Weruva/FF) that I bought at Petco and she did not like it at all and pretty much refused to eat it. My husband left her half a cup of dry food before he left for work (I work at 5am and he works at 8am) and by the time I got home about half of the dry food was gone and most of the wet food. I tried feeding her a can of the FF and she ate 3/4 of it but now she keeps meowing at me like she wants more food but won't finish what's in her bowl! She didn't seem to want to eat the little bit of dry food that was left but she did end up eating that instead of the 1/4 can of wet food left in her dish.

She keeps running over to me and meowing but I can't figure out what the heck she wants! Any thoughts? Is it normal for a cat to eat small portions but eat often? Why does she seem to not want what's left of her wet food but seem to want something else? I'm so confused...

By the way I just realized I haven't posted a picture of her yet. Here is one when she was actually about 3lbs lighter...she is more rotund now =( I'd love to get her back to this weight in the picture and I know that's still too big! She is a sweet little thing though and I would do anything to keep her healthy and with me for many years to come!

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