Sigh. I have 4 cats: 2 are skinny, and 2 are chubby and they are all fed the same food: high quality brand dried cat food. Chanelle, one of the chubby ones, is very active and he keeps his (over the median) weight with a lot of running around, annoying his skinny cat sister, so it is really my fault if I cave and give him treats when he asks for them instead of staying mum, and give kisses and chases instead. Bad mommy. But another cat, Valentino, really worries me because her weight is still climbing. She is medicated (she has epilepsy) and so she does not move much since she sleeps most of the time. Since she was a little kitten her favorite ‘treat’ was getting food. She is a cat who eats anything: pizza crust, pumpernickel bread, licking of a bit of butter. You get the picture. When she was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 3 1/2 years old, I felt really sorry for her. Seeing her going through her grand mal seizures broke my heart. So, a diet was not high on the priority list at that point, just keeping her alive, and I pampered her with hugs and treats.
Her weight climbed. She was quite overweight when she was diagnosed, but due to being drugged and sleeping a lot, she now gained even more weight. When her weight goes up, she needs more medication which can ultimately affect her liver health. So, getting her to loose weight is now really high on my priority list.
I cut out all the treats, and gave her cuddles instead. She is like “what that? I want food!”. I groom her fur with a fine comb. She loves that, she licks her paws and cleans her face and I groom her chubby back which she cannot reach anymore. I distract her with the laser pointer from asking for food. It often works. I cut out the free feeding over night. I emptied the bowl in the evening and filled it in the morning. She still shares the food with Manolo, who is on a special diet for her IBS.
She still gained weight. Her ideal weight is about 11 pounds, but she is 20 pounds.
So, yesterday I decided I need more effective measures: no more ballparking, but calorie counting.
I went to petco and actually really looked for the calorie content in the different brands of Science Diet cat food. The “light” brand which I used to buy has actually more calories (387kcal/cup) than the indoor one (287kcal/cup). I got a small bag of the indoor variety. I checked how much I need to feed her for her weight and lifestyle. “15 pounds and over 3/4 of a cup”. I use a little cup with a lid, and measure the food out for her. I cannot leave it out because Manolo cannot eat it so every time Valentino asks for food, I fill some into her bowl, and fill the rest back into the container. Manolo’s food is hidden in a shelf to which skinny Manols can easily jump, but little chubby kitty cannot. (Calorie content of that food: 587kcal/cup).
So, I am calorie counting for cats.
The stats are: 20-30 kcals/per pound body weight per day for a cat (aged 1-6 years, not pregnant). Older cats needs about 20-30kcal/pound. Valentino has a very sedative lifestyle, so it is 20kcal*20pounds= 400 kcal/day. It should not be reduced more than 10% per day, so the goal is ca. 360kcal. I think 300-350kcal/day would be good.
The Science diet indoor food has 287kcal/cup, so 1 cup of it. I will add a half jar of Gerber baby food, chicken, which has 100kcal for a whole jar.
We are on day one. I think the hardest will be for me saying no to her, when she bugs me for food. But I will visualize her as happy, skinny cat jumping around and being much happier in the long run.
“Good luck with that!” she says, curled up sleeping between my feet under the covers.
Update, Oct 23 2012
Calorie content of popular brands