We adopted Oreo from my sister seven years ago. She really is fluffy with soft silky black fur, but she has also always been that special brand of fluffy. The padding under her skin making her seem more like a stuffed animal then a real live cat. Combined with her sweet disposition, it was easy to just ignore the pudge and think that nothing was wrong and this is the way she is supposed to be.
Wake Up Call
Two years ago, while working at Full Circle Veterinary Alternatives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, I had the horrifying experience of seeing two different cats within a week of each other who’d come in very ill and needed feeding tubes. Cats don’t metabolize body fat well and when they stop eating it makes them feel worse. The more fat the cat, the more serious the condition. The solution is to treat what is making them sick but also force feeding them to ensure that they are getting enough nutrition. To make the process easier, a feeding tube is inserted directly into cat’s body. It is a simple solution to the problem but then the owner must syringe a liquefied food several times a day into the tube. I knew that if Oreo ever got sick I would never have the time or energy to deal with a feeding tube. If she got sick I knew it would be a death sentence. So that day I decided to get working on a weight loss plan for my fluffy girl.
We started with a high protein, grain free diet: Natura’s Evo Cat Weight Management. Oreo liked it, she likes pretty much everything though. We didn’t see much weight loss and trying to measure out food was difficult so I’m sure some days she got more then she needed. I attended a talk one evening about a really amazing new food called Hills Prescription Diet Feline Advanced Metabolic Solution. This food changed everything for us.
Metabolic cat food contains a lot of ingredients that I knew from my human weight loss history have been shown to increase metabolism in humans and theoretically could help cats. It isn’t a low calorie or low fat diet. It satisfies hunger by providing top quality nutrition. Oreo of course loved it. The talk I attended also taught me how to measure her for body fat content and to accurately assess just how fat she was to start with. Metabolic food is more forgiving of portions as well, so although overfeeding isn’t optimal for weight loss, being exact with measurements was less important with this food.
Oreo loves to play but I rarely have time to spend playing with her. We had been feeding her on the dryer to keep her food away from the dog, and as she gained weight it became harder and harder to jump up on the dryer. She needed a “step up” set next to the dryer to make it up successfully. So weight loss was definitely needed. I began using a different kind of feeder – a Catit Design Senses Food Maze that looks like a funnel with holes on the outside and shelves inside. You place the food at the top and the cat bats it through the holes to push kibble down the chute. The feeding system was genius. It slowed Oreo’s eating down and also got her moving – often in her zeal to bat the food out of the chute she’d flip it off the dryer. Feeding time would take over 20 mins and many trips up and down off the dryer. Instant workout! Oreo in the past had been a wolf with her food and often times food would go in and come back out undigested. Slowing down her eating meant that her body had time to process the kibble.
Another toy that worked great was the Slim Cat Interactive Feeder Ball. You place kibble food inside and adjust the hole size to allow the kibble to fall out. The bigger the holes the faster Oreo would have access to the food. I tried this toy before the Senses Maze but there were two problems with it. One was that it would get lost somewhere in the house and I’d have to find it, the other was that Malta my dog felt it was a great treat. She learned that by closing it in her jaws it would pop open and she could have Oreo’s food! We still use the Slim Cat Ball when I can find it and I like to add a few kibbles to it for overnight play when Malta is upstairs sleeping in my room.
Another thing I learned during the Hills Metabolic talk was that cats can be chatty and it doesn’t always mean they are hungry. Oreo is a real talker and in the past if she meowed frantically we thought she was hungry. She loves food and is always happy to eat, so this worked out great for her. Learning that sometimes they are meowing just to say: “How are you? Glad to see you? How was your day?” was a revelation to me. I stopped thinking that her meowing was a cry for food (sometimes it still is but now I have her on a measured kibble schedule and know if it is food time or not) and started to just chat back to her. We began to pick her up and cuddle or grab a toy and play with her when she meowed rather then always thinking she was hungry.
In the two years since we started these changes Oreo has lost 4.4 lbs going from a chunky 15.4 lbs to a more healthy 11 lbs. She can now easily jump up on the dryer to get her kibble and has a much slimmer silhouette. Gone is the “carpet bag” hanging under her belly as well. Slow and steady was the way to go for her weight loss and I’m happy that these changes have improved her health. I’ve encouraged many clients to try Hills Metabolic food and they have also had success. We don’t use treats or wet food at home but this food does have those types of food for cats who like variety. As well Slim Cat balls and Senses Mazes have helped other cats with their “food wolfing” problems.
If you’d like to try any of these solutions for your “fluffy cat” problems just give Full Circle Vet a call. Our staff can book a visit to assess your cat’s body condition and also order in the feeding solutions you need and get your cat started on a sensible weight loss strategy.
Info on Hills Metabolic Feline Advance Weight Solution:
Video of a cat using the Senses Food Maze that also shows other Catit Senses components in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScL9XtxkBu4
Video of a cat using Slim Cat Interactive Feeder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Sgout4Pats
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