Weight loss for kitty
April 23, 2008 7:01 AM   Subscribe

How much food do you give your cat compared to the bag's recommended serving?

My kitty (he's about 3 years old and 16-17ish pounds at his last vet appointment) has a bit of belly flub so I have him on Royal Canin Indoor Light 37. The package says 1 cup a day for his weight and build but that seems like an awful lot given he sleeps almost all the time. I feed him about a half cup per day in 2 or 3 meals but his flub remains unchanged.

I know you are not my vet. My vet did say to reduce his food intake from what he was eating of his previous food which I did for a few months (before changing to this food) and which didn't change anything. Based on your own experiences with a chubby kitty, should I be feeding more, less, more frequently, or other?
posted by odi.et.amo to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We left a bowl full of Science Diet kitty kibble out alla time for ol' Spoon (God Rest His Soul), and he was thin and fit -- right up until his pancreas went wacky.

But he was an indoor/outdoor kitty who got plenty of exercise. Maybe that's the answer.
posted by notyou at 7:06 AM on April 23, 2008

If your cat is an indoor apartment cat, then 1 cup is indeed quite a bit.

Are you feeding your cat once per day? Try spreading that out to two smaller feedings of 1/3 cup. He'll whine and cry for a few days, but it's a better way to eat. After all, it's how we do it. :)
posted by mkultra at 7:07 AM on April 23, 2008

I feed mine far less than a cup. She's on about a half a cup a day total per my vet, split between two feedings at 7am and 7pm. I have an autofeeder which measures and dispenses it for me, so I never have to concern myself with it (and she doesn't beg me for food anymore).
posted by mykescipark at 7:27 AM on April 23, 2008

When our cat was looking a little chubby, we switched her to a mainly canned-food diet (about 3 oz per day) plus about 1/4 cup per day of dry food that she eats sporadically (sometimes it takes her a few days to finish the dry food). This has helped her to slim down. Apparently the wet food has a higher protein to carbohydrate ratio and fewer fillers (like corn meal) that can be fattening, especially to indoor cats who don't get much exercise.
posted by Jemstar at 7:40 AM on April 23, 2008

My cat would eat herself to death if left up to her...actually she would eat and vomit all over my house until I died if she had free will to choose her intake. We feed her about 1/2 - 1/3 a cup a day and we see no sign of it not being enough - she of course would let us know if she needed more.
posted by doorsfan at 7:48 AM on April 23, 2008

We feed our kitty, chubby at eleven pounds, a handful of Felidae (which she hates) and a quarter-cup of Science Diet Light (which she loves), twice a day. That's a half-cup total per day, just what the packaging recommends for weight loss.

She's an indoor-only, relatively sedate, middle-aged lady. We haven't noticed any definitive loss since we started this regimen a couple months ago, but she doesn't seem to be getting any fatter.
posted by kwaller at 7:54 AM on April 23, 2008

My boys get 1/3 of a cup each of PH controlled food, every day, usually in the morning. They 'free feed' from that. Since they eat together and throughout the day, I know Osiris eats more than, say Tanis in any given day, and at the end of the day he's still yelling for more food. But he'd eat the whole bag in a day if I let him.
posted by sandraregina at 7:56 AM on April 23, 2008

Seconding feeding wet food. My cats were all porkers until we switched to wet food. Now only one is, the other three slimmed down considerably. And I think the fat one is thinner than she used to be, just not svelte like the other three.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:12 AM on April 23, 2008

My boys share one can of Natural Balance per day and free feed dry from a 10 cup capacity feeder. I refill the feeder every two weeks.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:30 AM on April 23, 2008

I only feed my cat when he asks for food. He has stayed at a perfect weight with this method. It works out to be about a half a handful twice a day. He always wants breakfast but some days he doesn't ask for dinner.
posted by cda at 8:52 AM on April 23, 2008

To be honest, I just fill up a bowl with Iams and let Murphy have at it 'till it runs out. He's about six months old and ridiculously scrawny still, so it hasn't been a problem yet. Granted, he's a ball of energy and runs around all day, so that could be it.
posted by riane at 9:06 AM on April 23, 2008

Cats are hard to slim down as they tend to reduce their activity level if fed less calories. I've wrestled with this for years with one of my cats. Fat Cat (names changed to protect the formerly-obese) would quite happily eat herself into a heart attack if I let her.

Under the care of a vet, I've been able to get her to lose about 6-7 lbs in the past few years. The key was to carefully limit the amount of carbohydrate she eats. Many (all?) dry foods are primarily carbs. As my vet explained it to me, thinking on cat feeding has evolved over the years. They used to recommend dry only for dental health, but this lead to fat cats, those high carbs, and dehydrated cats. Wet food is seen as providing a little bit of extra water in their diet, as well as balancing the fat/carbohydrate levels.

Further, you need to do an energy balance calculation for your cat. Most manufacturers will give a "Metabolisable energy" figure for their foods. There's probably a lot more than you want to know about this here, but I suggest that you develop a feeding plan with your vet.

I've had a lot of success with a diabetic diet for feline weight loss and maintenance. This site is a great resource, particularly Binky's Lists.

Specifically, my program is 1 can per day of Fancy Feast Gourmet Chicken Feast* (dark pink label) and 1/4 c of Nutrience Holistic Alternative Maintenance. Of course, she has all the water she wants as well.

*I know, I know, Fancy Feast is "crap" and I'm a horrible owner for feeding her such garbage, BUT, it's the only low carb wet food she'll eat AND it works.

Finally, I do have multiple cats, one of whom doesn't need food restrictions. In fact, she's a grazer and getting her to eat enough is a challenge. She gets fed in a separate area from Fat Cat and her bowls get picked up after she eats---"Food patrol" my vet calls it. It was a big adjustment for her, going from a grazer to a twice-a-day feeder, but she's made it.

Good luck! This is a tricky thing to do and you'll have to pay attention to it for the whole lifetime of the cat. With a little homework though, it's completely do-able and not a huge amount of effort.
posted by bonehead at 9:15 AM on April 23, 2008

our lazy indoor cats get 1/2 cup each dry Science Diet per day, total. I think the packaging recommends up to 1 cup per cat per day but that seems like a lot to me. especially since one is on the pudgy side.

our vet has begun to recommend (to all patients) an all wet food diet for weight loss/control. (for the reasons bonehead has listed above.)
posted by killy willy at 10:04 AM on April 23, 2008

My 19 lbs cat lost 4.5 lb when I switched him from dry to wet food. I gradually reduced the amount of dry on offer until it finally disappeared altogether. (I still keep a small bag of kibble around to use as treats and if I need to go away over a weekend.) I haven't seen a reduction in activity; in fact, I've seen happier kitties, no recurrence of urinary crystals, fewer hairballs, and (not to be even more indelicate) more regular and consistent poop.

Initially I fed major brand wet food (Friskies, 9-Lives, Fancy Feast), but I've switched over to Wellness and Merrick brands. In a pinch, I'll feed Blue Buffalo which I can get at Petsmart. FWIW, my vet thinks Fancy Feast is one of the better major brands and its what she recommends to people who can't/won't feed the premium brands.
posted by weebil at 10:21 AM on April 23, 2008

Response by poster: I will get some wet food this weekend and start him on that plus+dry food (reduced portion size) and see what happens!

Part of the problem is that he has always been a gobbler - he was on an automatic feeder for 2 years and still ate almost all his food as soon as it was delivered, so I can't trust him with any sort of free feeding routine. Hopefully the supplemental wet food will help him become svelte!
posted by odi.et.amo at 11:25 AM on April 23, 2008

Our boys get a bit over 1/2 cup a day, each. I have to feed them separately, or my wife's cat will just snarf it all down himself. And he's the skinny one too. My chubby cat doesn't seem to eat as much, but he's still several pounds heavier than his brother.

We feed them whichever dry food we can find at a reasonable price that doesn't contain meat byproducts, corn and other crap filler grains. (Sure, cats are all about corn, you're always hearing about farmers fighting to keep cats out of their corn crops...) It's damn hard to find good dry food, and I try to buy foods with as high a protein content as possible (current chow is over 50%). We've considered wet, but quality wet food is currently too damn expensive for our budget. I'd rather feed quality dry than crappy wet food.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:31 AM on April 23, 2008

my cat gets about 1/4 cup of dry food a day, along with one packet of wet food. his weight's been very stable.

we divvy it up into multiple feedings, which seems to cut down on the "you're starving me!" screaming.
posted by wayward vagabond at 1:46 PM on April 23, 2008

My cat is very large (18 lbs) and we let him free-feed Evo out of an enormous dog bowl. Because Evo is comprised of so much protein (I think 90% or more) the vet says that he actually burns more energy digesting it than if he hadn't eaten it.

I think the money you spend on quality animal food is more than justified by your happy, healthy animal, good fur, less smelly turds, etc. And pound for pound, we figured out that we're only spending an additional $5 a month with the best food on the market. Also, we never get into yowling "you're starving me!" matches with the cat, who can eat whenever he wants, and the vet says he's at his right weight.
posted by arnicae at 4:04 PM on April 23, 2008

Our cats get dry food, Innova Evo (no grains, >50% protein). As kittens they got "all you can eat". At 1 year I turned it down to 7/8 cup a day, following the instructions on the bag. A few months after, they were both about 15-17 lbs.; the vet said they need to be more like 10 or 12 pounds, and to cut their food back by 1/3rd. Now they each get 1/2 cup a day, and (three months later) they're trim, dapper, and active little 12 lb. kitties. (At first there was much complaining and they woke me up at an ungodly hour every day.)

I want to throw in a plug for Innova Evo. When we first got the kittens, they were on Science Diet. I switched them over to Evo gradually, and maybe it's just confirmation bias (because the Evo is more expensive) but within a month or two their coats were smoother and they were more active.
posted by phliar at 5:24 PM on April 23, 2008

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