Pete’s On A Diet

When I got Pete, he was just under 6kg, which the vet was happy with. Because I knew I’d be out/away quite often in his first couple of months with me, I got a gravity dispenser for his dry food, and re-filled it every so often. I realised after a while that he was eating too many biscuits too often. I would weigh out enough for 40g per day for two weeks and it would be gone after ten days. Before I went on holiday, I weighed out enough for 40g for just over two weeks, and the woman who was feeding him for me topped it up before I got back. He gets 2x100g wet food pouches a day as well. I know he’d had a rough time as a stray, but I hoped that knowing there was food available would reassure him so that he would be a bit less food-obsessed and a bit more able to regulate his intake. He’s always ready to eat, he’s never turned food down (not even when it has hairball paste mixed into it), and if I make the slightest move towards the kitchen, he follows me and waits expectantly for food. He does a lot of looking forlornly at his just-emptied bowl as well.

I weighed him when I got back from Greece at the beginning of October, and he’d gone up to 7kg. That’s far too much for him, even though he is a big boy. So now he’s on a diet. For the first ten days I restricted him to 40g biscuits as well as the wet food, and then decreased that to 30g. He’s been on 30g for a couple of weeks now, and I’ll weigh him at the weekend. I’ll probably decrease the biscuits to 25g per day after he’s been weighed. It’s important that you don’t put cats on a very strict diet straight away because it can bugger their metabolism and make them seriously ill, which is why I’m decreasing his intake slowly. It doesn’t help that the clocks have just changed and Pete can’t tell the time – he was pretty convinced yesterday and this morning that 4am was breakfast time.

He coped more or less ok when I was on holiday. It was unfortunate that of the two friends who had kindly offered to feed him while I was away, one had a major bereavement and wasn’t able to help, and the other became unwell and was only able to manage one visit a day on most days, so his food was all at once instead of spaced out, and I think he got lonely too. He only went missing once – went out of the back door and out of the back green and then couldn’t or didn’t get back in. The catflap was taped up after that and all was well when I got home. He came to the door and watched me come in – and then ran straight to his dish and sat there looking at me as if to say “well? come on then!” Once he’d been fed he realised he was glad I was back and was pretty clingy for the next few days.

I’ve ordered a timed food dispenser from Amazon which has five spaces for food and can be programmed up to 48 hours in advance. I’m planning to set it to give him half a pouch at 5am, 11am, 5pm and 11pm, and I will give him biscuits before I go to work and before I go to bed. Fingers crossed he’ll stop pestering me for food at ridiculous o’clock.