For the first few months I had Pete, I gave him a wet pouch night and morning and let him have free access to dried food, hoping he would get used to regular food, feel more secure, and eventually learn to regulate his intake.
When we went to the vet the other week for his split ear, the vet weighed him. From the healthy 5.8kg he was in July, he’s now hovering around 7kg, which is too much for him. So he’s on a diet. I’m still giving him two wet pouches a day, but I’ve decreased his biscuits gradually to 10g, at bedtime. I was worried he’d be really hungry, but he tells me he’s hungry all the time anyway, so it’s hard to tell. Even after he’s just eaten a pouch and he’s having a snooze and digesting it, if I make the slightest move towards the kitchen he follows me and begs for food. He still does it, but not any more than before diet started.
The hardest thing has been working out how much to feed him. He gets a mixture of Felix, Kitekat, Whiskas and Tesco pouches, but only the Kitekat has the calorie content on the packaging. (And once a week I replace a pouch with a raw chicken wing or drumstick with the bone in, to give his teeth and jaws a workout). By the power of the internet I worked out that to get him down to 6kg, he needs 200-220kcal per day. So I emailed Felix, Whiskas and Tesco to find out their cat food calories. Felix and Whiskas have got back to me – Felix is 70-75kcal per 100g pouch, and Whiskas is 80-85kcal per 100g. So he’s getting 150-170kcal from wet food every day, and has 30-50kcal left over for dry food. Again, the dry food manufacturers don’t put the calorie content on their packaging, not even on the diet food. So I used this site to work it out. This one does it too. I give him a mixture of biscuits – diet, hairball and normal ones all mixed together in a tupperware, in a ratio of about 3:1:1, so I’m basing the calculations on the diet food and then adding a little bit. So he can have 10-15 grams of biscuits per day, which is less than half of what he was eating when he had free access. No wonder he’s put weight on!
It’s important that cats don’t get too fat. Apart from the risk of heart disease and diabetes, carrying extra weight can damage their joints when they’re running and jumping, and in extreme cases they can get too fat to groom and clean themselves and can end up with nasty urine sores.
So I’m going to keep him on 2 pouches and 10 grams of food, plus the occasional treat, for a couple of months and see how he goes. If he hasn’t lost any weight by the new year, then I’ll think about taking him to the fat club his vet runs for cats.
It’s interesting that all the cat food packaging says a 4kg cat should have 3-4 pouches per day which is more calories than even a 6kg cat needs to maintain a healthy weight.