Monday, February 03, 2014

How To Make Your Cat Skinny With This One Weird Tip!

Do you have a chubby tabby? Have you bought all the diet cat food in the world with no results?

I can help.

I’ve had a lot of requests to explain how I got my cats to lose weight. I’ve coaxed two lardos into the realm of the svelte.

The first subject: Moth. I went to the shelter and requested a “large male cat,” and they said, “Oh we’ve got one of those!” I went home with this:

He was 7 years old and weighed around 21 pounds. 6 months later he was under 14 pounds and jumping on top of cabinets.

The second subject: Foosa. After Moth died (at age 17) and my other cat was delirious with grief – or with the unpleasantness of being the only feline in the house, who knows with cats – I went looking for a cat I felt had a similar, um, spirit to Moth. Enter Foosa:

Foosa was one of those cats you sometimes see on the news. He topped the scales at 35 pounds, at which point his owner restricted him to one room of her house for a year to keep him from eating the other pets’ food but still only got him to lose 4 pounds. Her husband convinced her that he needed a new home, and I staggered away with him.

9 months later, Foosa was Half Foosa:

He went from being unable to jump onto a bed or clean himself to being, well, a regular cat.

So what’s the One Weird Tip?

Cats don’t have opposable thumbs.

If your cat is fat, it’s your fault. (Or maybe your spouse’s or your mother’s or your next door neighbor’s  – but the point is, it’s not your cat’s fault.)

Here’s what to do:
  1. Start regular – not diet – wet food. Yes, wet. Dry food has too many carbs. It’s like feeding your cat donuts and potato chips. Okay not really that bad but think of it that way. Got it? REGULAR not diet, and WET not dry.
  2. Get a kitchen scale and weigh the food before you give it to your cat. For a few days, just find out how much your cat is currently taking in.
  3. Decrease the amount you calculated above by 10%, and feed the cat ONLY that amount every day.
  4. Weigh the cat every other day (if you have a good human scale you can hold the cat and do the subtraction method). If the cat is not losing about 1-2% of its weight per week, decrease by another 10%. If the cat is losing faster than 2% per week, increase a bit.
(If you want a lot more seriously in-depth info, go here.)


My cat cries all the time and it breaks my heart not to feed her.
Grow a pair! Your cat probably cried all the time when you DID feed her all day. You can have a yowling healthy cat or a yowling obese cat. And this is what cats are born to do: hunt. Not eat; hunt. Nothing wrong about a hungry cat looking for food.

My cat hates wet food.
He will get used to it if he is really hungry.

My other cat needs to eat! I can’t stop the fat one from stealing all her food!
So separate them. Get creative. You can figure this out. Simplest is to lock the fat one up (with litter box) while the skinny one takes her time. The skinny one may need to be offered food several times a day, but not ALL day. (If it’s really ALL day – which it’s not, but whatever – put the skinny one in a room with food and her own litter box while you’re gone.)

My cat wakes me up to feed him.
This is one of the only tricks you can train a cat to do: wake you to feed them. You train them to do this by feeding them when they wake you up. Fortunately, cats are not very good at remembering tricks, so if you don’t feed them when they wake you up, they quickly forget. Always do something else first besides feeding the cat when you get up in the morning.

My cat steals my food! I can’t turn my back for a minute!
Don’t turn your back. Clean up when you’re done making and eating food. Or, lock the cat up and enjoy your meal in peace. Buy earplugs if necessary.

Will this work on a dog?
No clue. I do know that dogs don’t have opposable thumbs either.

I hope you enjoyed this non-running, non-PTSD post! Perhaps there will be more. Perhaps not.

Addendum: I forgot the chart I made!


Jennifer said...

Will this work for me? Is there wet human food? Chicken? Monkey chow?


DoctorMama said...

Jennifer - do you have opposable thumbs?

L. said...

Hmm. Maybe I need to tape my own thumbs down... (what could possibly go wrong?)

Cory said...

This post makes my day. It's no-nonsense like we expect from Dr Mama, and involves before and after Foosa pictures. thank you! (PS: I do not have a fat cat. Or any cat.)

Anonymous said...

Overall, good advice, especially re: wet food. It is important to remember, however, that obese cats are at increased risk of developing hepatic lipidosis, which can be triggered by extreme dieting. If a fat kitty on a diet suddenly loses its appetite, it's time to call the veterinarian ASAP.


Anonymous said...

This is kind of almost exactly what needs to be said to the parents of my obese pediatric patients. Except the wet cat food part.

Anonymous said...

Vets pretty much universally caution that even for very obese cats weight loss shouldn't be anywhere near that fast.

DoctorMama said...

Anonymous 3 - no, I researched this very carefully and the party line with vets is up to 2% per week, which for ours to begin with was more than a half pound per week; we erred on the low side anyway. And DVM - yes, and it's VERY easy to tell if they've lost their appetite, since usually they're NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM

Cat Health said...

Great post! Been reading around for tips on how to make my cat lose weight. Thanks for sharing!

Kylie said...

Hi Dr Mama - just wondering about your hip injury and whether you're back to running? I'm a recreational runner (40km per week) who developed a sore hip in March - had lots of physio - still couldn't run weeks later - had an MRI & CT Scan 2 weeks ago which disclosed a minor stress fracture of the femoral neck. I've basically been doing nothing physical and am wondering what the future holds running-wise. I miss it a lot! I know you've found unexpected solace in pilates but I'm not convinced. Tell me I'll run again! Please!

Anonymous said...

Hi DoctorMama. I'm delurking for the second time to share my success with you - yesterday I ran 2km without stopping, albeit very slowly. I am pleased as punch, and would like to say thank-you for encouraging me to run. Sending you good wishes, I hope you are well :-)
Sinéad (maggot in training)

Anonymous said...

Hey Dr. Mama I have sprained my ankle and I can't find anything about it in your archives. So you should post on ankles. And on what's happening. I miss you!

Petzy said...

This is good, but it all depends on food. Whenever you Buy Cat Food you need to make sure that they are only healthy for them.

Kristen said...

Hello. I know it's almost a year since you posted this but I need help. How many times should I feed my day cats wet food. How many teaspoons as I don't have a scale. It's hard to say no to them when they're meowing. One sometimes dry heeves when he doesn't eat. They always ask for food 3-4 hours a day. (Every 3-4 hours) it's annoying. They don't eat much but there cat food container is normally full and the eat like 10-20 pieces not even. Not really sure I don't count. Please help mama

Kristen said...

Fat cat not day

Anonymous said...

Very nice post! you should always Buy Cat Food

according to the brand values.

Best Cat Food said...

In the wild, a cat would eat a variety of prey animals – primarily mice and other rodents, insects, birds and frogs (rarely fish!). The average mouse is about 75% water, and provides about 3-5% carbohydrates. No matter what your cat eats, it should not eat a food that contains more than 10% carbohydrates.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post!
Buy Cat Food

Glass House said...

If I have 2 cats, and I leave dry food out all the time, and the cat who is getting fatter eats the dry food and the skinny cat eats all the wet food, and rarely eats the dry food. Will my fat cat starve if i take away the dry food or will she start to fight to eat the wet food?

I give them separate bowls but the fatter cat just eats the juice and the skinny cat eats all the meat.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I have 3 cats but only 1 is fat. They all eat pretty much the same thing but they are no where close to having the same weight. What does this mean? I will definitely try this trick though and if it works then I will post another comment saying it worked. �� thanks for this post! My!fat cat needs it!
sincerely Kitty 😺 (just so you can refer to me as someone besides anonymous. 5 😉)

James Franklin said...

This is a nice post. I like this post very much. The tips you provide in this post is really helpful. Thanks. Best canned cat food tips

Unknown said...

Did this for about 6 months with our fat cat (22lbs). He now weighs 17 lbs and is doing so much better!

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