Mismatched Metabolisms: The Case of “Big Boy” and “Miss Princess”

Oct 24, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

“But Doc, how can I get ‘Big Boy’ to lose weight when ‘Miss Princess’ needs extra food to maintain her weight?!” I get this question often. Of course the names have been changed to protect the innocent, but it is a common problem. What to do, what to do…

There are several ways to approach this problem of mismatched metabolisms, but the bottom line is that you have to do something different than what you have been doing. Sorry- it is just not working. Keep it up, and Big Boy may be seeing his veterinarian more often for diabetes management and other maladies. I will try to give you some simple practical advice. Of course, it is your job to carry it out, so chose a method that will work on a daily basis for your household.

Step one: consult your veterinarian for nutritional advice. This includes not only what to feed, but how much.  It is likely that if you are not already feeding a large percentage of canned food as the diet, your veterinarian will recommend doing so. Canned food is lower in carbohydrates than dry and is much better for combating and preventing obesity in cats. (See The Skinny on Fattening Foods).

Step two: make a plan that works in your household. It is critical that the entire family agrees to the plan and that the plan be as easy as possible. You will most likely need to measure how much you are feeding. Having small, easy to use measuring scoops (if you are feeding dry food) makes it easier. In our house, we use a metal 1/8th cup scoop. It’s hard to cheat using one of these.  If several people feed the cats, measure out the daily food allowance into a container (or separate containers) and have family members feed from this. Once it’s gone, no refills until the next day!

Step Three: Follow up at regular intervals on an accurate scale. Most bathroom scales will not be accurate enough to detect small changes (less than 1 lb.). I recommend that you bring your cat to your veterinarian to be weighed or that you purchase an infant scale to use at home (these are readily available on line). I recommend weighing every 4 weeks initially. Not every cat fits the average profile. When I first put my chubby cat on a diet, he actually gained weight! The poor guy has a low metabolism, so we had to adjust his daily intake. Conversely, we don’t want our cats to lose weight too quickly.

What about Miss Princess?

The simple fact is that with Big Boy in the house, you can no longer provide the free access “all day buffet”.  Here are some options along with pointers:

  1. Continue the “all day buffet” for Miss Princess and feed Big Boy separately. Some clients find an area that the bigger cat cannot reach. This might be a high surface or small access area. You can get creative with more technical solutions, including indoor invisible fencing to keep Big Boy out of the buffet room or a coded magnet on Miss Princess’s collar that will open a cat door to allow access to a room or crate/carrier with her food (magnetic collar and matching door available on line).
  2. Gradually transition all cats to meal feeding and feed them separately. Two to three meals a day works well for most cats. This is best done by first removing the food at night. Next, remove it for a few hours during the middle of the day then gradually make this period longer. Nighttime may be more difficult, if your cats wake you up asking for food, but be strong!
  3. If your veterinarian recommends a reduced calorie diet and you cannot feed different foods, in most cases it is easier to feed for the cat that needs to lose weight and then supplement the lighter cat as needed. Big Boy is eating more to begin with, so the change in food will affect him more than Miss Princess.
  4. Treats are not “free”! If you give your cats treats or table food on a daily basis, discuss this with your veterinarian. These calories add up over time and can de-rail a diet in no time. On average, one extra tablespoon of dry food every day for 1 year will put on 1 lb. of weight.
  5. Exercise is always helpful in any weight loss program – both mentally and physically. Make your cat work for his food. Have him chase the laser light to find a hidden bowl of food. If you are feeding dry food, give it to your cat in a “food toy” so he has to work to get it and eat slowly. This will be fun for you too!
  6. Slow weight loss is critical in cats. Small changes over time will be successful. Rapid, severe weight loss in cats can cause serious illness.  Be consistent and know that you are helping your cat be happier and healthier in the long run.

Good luck and be strong!

 

Dr Diana Lafer

Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

Cats Limited Hospital
1260 New Britain Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06110

Phone: (860) 561-9885
Email: cats@catslimited.com

Website: http://www.catslimited.com/
Facebook: Profile Page
Directions: Google | MapQuest | Yahoo!

More PostsWebsite

Related Posts

Categories

ALL TAGS