The kitty diet

Please don’t let this post convince you that I am the crazy cat lady.

Ten years ago today, my cat was born. I adopted her in July of 2001, just a week or so back from a month-long trip to Ireland. She was only about 2 1/2 months old.

While I considered naming her Dumbo because her body wasn’t proportional to her ears, I can honestly say, she’s pretty much caught up now. And them some. I have a fat cat. As I have been losing weight (minus my pregnancy gain–now well over 20lbs), she has been gaining it.

Back in November, we brought her to the vet for an annual physical. She was 14.6lbs. About 2.6lbs bigger than a cat with her frame should be. Just as with people, feline obesity can cause health problems like arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

I’ve had her on “light” cat food ever since she passed the 12lb mark and the vet said I should watch her weight a little bit. And I’ve always measured out her food per recommendations. She got 1/4 cup in the morning and 1/4 cup at night. Still, she gained weight. Even when we moved to a larger apartment with stairs and much, much more room for her to play, she got pudgier and pudgier. So the vet recommended a special higher protein diet. She was on that diet for 4 months and gained nearly half a pound. Additionally, she has since become a very cranky cat.

Then I saw this article and this website and realized I’ve been totally misinformed and should take things into my own hands. Essentially, pet food manufacturers are using more grains and less protein than they used to–especially in dry foods. It’s cheaper for the pet food companies but leads to weight gain in our beloved pets because nutritionally, they need more protein in their diet. Additionally, as consumers it’s next to impossible to know what we’re feeding our animals. While a container of yogurt may list calories, fat, carbs, sugars, cholesterol, sodium and several vitamins and minerals, you can’t even get a calorie count for cat food. (Worth noting: some of the higher end companies like Iams and Science Diet do post nutritional information for their products online.)

The vet put her on a “diet” that may have had more protein in it and fewer carbs, but it was 100 calories MORE than she was previously eating. The average cat should only consume 180-200 calories daily. Pru was eating 240 on the new diet. No wonder why she gained weight.

So now, I have her on a diet and exercise regimen. We have new toys in the house that we rotate (or she gets bored and doesn’t use them). Some toys she can play with on her own if the motivation strikes her (usually not) but most of the time I schedule a gym date with her–usually 10-20 minutes in the morning and another 15-20 minutes at night.

Additionally, we’re doing a serious overhaul of her diet. I’m monitoring her calories, and she’s eating less than 200 calories daily (including the 2 calorie treats we’re using in an attempt to shake her out of the behavior issues she’s had lately). We’ve switched to mainly wet food since it has a higher protein content and fewer calories.

I’m hoping this works, but I don’t have a ton of faith given that she was on a 160 calorie (dry food) diet when all this weight gain happened and considering she’s currently sprawled across the floor soaking up sun and resembling Jabba the Hut with her rolls spread across the sunny spot. Perhaps the higher protein wet food will make the difference. Yes, it IS like my cat is on the Catkins diet.

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