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Our Carb-Addicted Cats–Putting Cats On A Diet

Posted Aug 04 2011 8:56pm

Our four cats are a mixed bunch of weights and personalities. Tanner and China are brother and sister, aged 9.5-years-old and overweight by 5-7 lbs each.

Tanner

China and Gingerbread

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Jack with Stewie (stray kitten in Georgia)

Mongo

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Jack is a stray that adopted us 6 years ago at approx. 1 year of age; he’s never had a weight problem, he weighs about 6 lbs. Mongo is our baby at only 3-years-old. He was overweight over the winter, but after his deworming medication, he slimmed down to a normal adult male cat’s weight.

Our Gingerbread that we lost last year was overweight on and off throughout his 10 year lifespan. He had feline Leukemia and his health went downhill quickly after being prescribed prednisone by his first vet. He stopped eating, and at the time we didn’t know that this is very bad, ESPECIALLY for overweight cats. When they stop eating, they lose weight rapidly, which often causes liver disease in cats. This is what happened to Gingerbread and what contributed to his shortened life. We had no idea that cats cannot stop eating abruptly or it will lead to serious complications and possibly death. By the time we found out, it was too late. His health was in rapid decline and there was not much we could do beyond the extensive treatment his new vet gave to him. Unfortunately, it was too late.

She [the vet] warned us that if we had other overweight cats that we have to slowly reduce their weight to avoid these complications. That’s also when we began researching cats and their diet and found that most of the commercial cat food on the market is very, very bad for cats as it is loaded with grains and soy—all of which are not part of a cat’s natural diet. In the wild, cats eat small animals like mice and chipmunks, this does not change because they are domesticated. Their bodies and brains are still compatible with a high-protein, low-carb diet. In the wild, they get 90-95% of their calories from protein, but most commercial pet foods are very low in protein and high in carbs. In nature, you will almost never see a cat gnawing on an ear of corn in a field or an English muffin unless they come into contact with civilization and they are starving, so this, just like in humans with inactive lifestyles, leads to overeating and excess weight gain, which then leads to all of the same complications that humans face: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and so on.

If you think weight loss in humans is hard, imagine how complicated it gets for cats that are addicted to carbs and don’t know any better, yet have to lose only ounces a week, not pounds. I never realized that the cat foods we always fed them were not ideal. I didn’t know it made a difference or that they were basically fish-flavored cereals. I always assumed they were just, you know, the inedible parts of animals made into little dry pieces. I never dreamed that it was mainly corn and soy and wheat and who knows what else.

Our cats have always been fed dry cat food, and two cans of food a day that they split between all 4 of them and usually left most of anyway (they lick the juice and leave most of the food). They’ve always had a bowl of dry cat food that they graze on throughout the day. Again, conventional wisdom pretty much said this is how cats eat—a little at a time, so that is what we did. And it seemed to work fine, except for the kitties who overate and would rather take a nap than go outside to bird-watch. Plus, someone in the house (my mom) gives them treats way too often! And they are EXTREMELY addicted to those things! I swear, they put crack in them. If they even hear the bag opening, they will come downstairs from a sound sleep to get some. Sigh.

I found this grain-free cat food made by The Blue Buffalo Co. called Wilderness . It’s high in protein, low in carbs, perfect for a cat’s high-protein diet needs! So happy that they now carry it at Pet Smart!!! We bought 3 bags of it last night:

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But would the kitties be fooled? Would they eat it? Would they know it doesn’t contain their precious corn fillers?

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YES! We gave them some as soon as we got home and they gobbled it up! Huge sigh of relief. Now, we don’t have to buy that TERRIBLE Friskies anymore! Yay!

It is pricey: $6.99 for the small bags; $19.99 for the larger bag of salmon flavor, and $34.99 for the largest bag that we didn’t buy until we know that they love it–or 2-3 times more than regular cat food. However, vet bills cost way more and your cat’s life is worth the extra few bucks, right? Smile If it comes down to Starbucks or cat food, choose the cat food. You’re doing both of yourselves a huge favor.

Our weight-loss plan for the kitties:

  • Keep it high in protein with grain-free dry food in reduced amounts (~1/4 cup a day per kitty)
  • Canned food tends to be higher in protein, so they will still get their shared cans of food each day
  • Hopefully Blue Buffalo Co. will make grain-free treats soon, but until then we’re going to limit their treats to once or twice a week and count them out
  • We’re going to get our inactive kitties active! We’re buying harnesses and taking them for a walk around the yard or wherever they will go. Two of them only go outside to the front or back porch, and they are the ones that are overweight, so exercise will help.

Remember: It’s never good for cats to lose weight rapidly! It leads to serious, if not fatal, complications. So, we can’t just give them a tablespoon of food a day and say that’s it. It doesn’t work like that. They’re not humans that can adapt like Lap-Band surgery patients. Their body doesn’t process like that. This is a delicate situation and not something to do aggressively or foolishly. You also don’t want to stress your cat out. When they are stressed or dislike their food, they may become depressed and refuse to eat at all. Again, this is bad. Take baby steps and don’t overwhelm your furry friend. Reduce their carb intake (don’t feed them commercial dry foods that contain grains), and try to get them active if you can. They even make cat-sized hamster wheels for indoor kitties. We’d totally buy that for our cats, but I am pretty sure they’d just sit on top of it. Actually, Tanner and China would, but Jack and Mongo would probably use it, lol.

Do you have any overweight cats or dogs? Have you ever successfully gotten them to lose weight in a healthful manner? Tell me all about it! I’m going to blog about our mission and give you progress reports. We’re going to weigh Tanner and China and record it, just like I do for myself. Dustin is 100% supportive and determined to get Tanner to go on walks with him, lol. I think that’s awesome and I look forward to trying. Open-mouthed smile

Tuesday night, the humans in the house went to Aunt Gina and Uncle Brian’s house. I came home with goodies from the garden!!!

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A giant zucchini, a green bell pepper, two tomatoes (I ate one before this pic), and lots of pickling cucumbers!

Have you seen the price of pickling cucumbers in grocery stores? The last I saw was 2/$3!! $1.50 each? Confused smile Are you serious? Geez.

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I love garden-fresh veggies. So excited. Love these! Thanks Aunt G-Unit and Brian. Red heart They’re the greatest.

Wednesday, we took the Crackillac into the dealership to have it fixed. Thankfully it was the timing belt, which we got a recall notice for a couple months ago. Phew! NO BILL! Covered under the warrantee and is running so much better now. No problems at all. Yay! Rolling on the floor laughing We didn’t even have to get the loaner car; they fixed it as soon as we got there and the whole process took about 30 minutes. Awesome. That’s my kind of service, free and quick. heh

After we got the Crackillac fixed, we went to Nature’s Pantry to do a little shopping. The highlights of my loot:

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Lifetime Life’s Basics (complete) plant protein powder in chocolate. I love their vanilla flavor and I’ve been wanting to do more smoothies lately, so I bought the chocolate. I tasted it straight up, just to see what it tastes like, and it tastes GOOD! Very chocolaty. Can’t wait to try it in a smoothie. Yum, yum!

Plus, a bottle of colloidal trace minerals. I was looking for a different brand, but this is all they had. I’ve heard great things about colloidal trace minerals, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. What’s a few drops a day? No big thang!

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My current supplements that I take daily:

Natural Calm – magnesium supplement (it has helped me immensely with Aunt Flo)

Maca powder – Just started taking this this week. I haven’t had any noticeable effects from it yet. I’ll keep you updated on that!

And now I’m adding the colloidal trace minerals and restarting my daily glucosamine with chondroitin, which is great for its anti-inflammatory properties.

I picked up this gem too:

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It was on sale for only $7.45 – regularly $11.50. 14oz, almost a pound, is a great price, I think.

I bought my first ever bottle of kombucha. I got the regular, no flavor added bottle. I tried a few sips at home. I’m not sure what I think of it yet. It tastes like… beer? I don’t know. I think I might like it, but I’m not sure. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. I’m always interested in trying new things. Smile

We went to the mall for gelato on our way home (Dustin wanted it), I had a half of a slush. I wasn’t in the mood for ice cream at the time. I know, I’m such a weirdo.

I went into DSW to look at shoes and couldn’t find anything I liked in my size. Dustin found a pair of sneakers that look like dress shoes (no laces) and he was so excited about it that he had to come tell me from across the store. “I found these sneakers but they have no laces!!” Yes, welcome to 2006 trends, dear. haha So he got those and I went to another shoe store and bought these:

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I really like them, but I might have to return them! Sad smile For some reason, my right pinkie toe does not work with those straps. It’s like, one millimeter too short to get under the last one, so it kind of rubs against it when I walk and I didn’t notice it in the store when I tried them on. Very annoying, so I don’t think I can keep them. Sigh. They were on sale for $19.95, so at least I didn’t spent too much, but I’ll probably just exchange them for something else anyway. Bummer. They’re really cute. Maybe I can file my pinkie toe down? hahaha Ok, they’re not THAT cute.

It’s been a pretty lazy day around here, but I think I am finding my energy now and I’m going to do something productive. Devil

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