Murphy's law states that if you have more than one cat (and don't we all?) then one cat will be thin and one cat will be fat. But, how should you deal with this dilemma at feeding time? The myth that one food is appropriate for both of these cats as in "multicat" food defies logic. If it were that simple, 40% of my patients would NOT be overweight. But, here are some innovative ideas that might help you to help your cats!
Convert your feeding style from a shared free choice food bowl to feeding 2 or 3 times a day in MEALS. Once the meal is done, the food goes away. This discourages the cat that likes to overeat when there is nothing else to do. It also allows you to feed the cats in separate rooms with a door between the fat cat and the skinny cat. With this plan, you can feed each cat an appropriate food for their size. This will also allow skinny cat to eat at leisure and fat cat to cool his heels after the meal is gone.
If you are concerned that skinny cat needs food out all the time to graze on, then try placing skinny cats food in an elevated location -like the top of the refrigerator- where fat cat can not physically access.
Or, you can "build" a feeding box that has a skinny cat silhouette as a door, so fat cat can not enter. This allows skinny cat to go in and out of the feeding box to graze whenever he wants.
DIY Cat Feeding Box
It is sometimes hard to motivate a fat cat to exercise. Try playing "catch the kibble" at mealtime. Toss one piece of food (from the meal portion) at a time down a hallway or stairway. This is a fun game for fat cat as well as skinny cat, and will burn calories too.
There are some really COOL interactive feeding toys available for purchase. This will challenge your cat, give them more of a hunting experience, and slow their eating down -all of which are beneficial to both skinny cat and fat cat.
Select a low-carbohydrate food for weight loss, as a high protein food will increase energy expenditure. (i.e.-carbs make cats sleepy, protein makes them more energetic). See my previous blog on the importance of feeding high protein foods to cats: Be Savy about your Cats Nutrition
If you are considering a weight loss program for your fat cat -please consult your veterinarian. Fat cats are at risk for a liver condition called Hepatic Lipidosis, if they do not eat a certain number of calories per day. The rule of thumb is a cat should never lose more than 1/2 lb per month, while dieting. More weight loss would increase the risk of Hepatic Lipidosis in your cat. How do you measure? A scale and a written record of bi weekly weight checks are very important. Sharing this information with your cats veterinarian with allow them to be a partner in your cats weight loss program.
As always, thanks for sharing this information with your cat loving friends. Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic