Bonnie L Proctor - "Four indoor cat household and although they are all plump, one is extremely obese on a small bone frame (14-16 lbs but otherwise healthy). We feed two cups of dry food once a day. “Fatty” tends to scarf, barf, then go back for more. Any suggestions for successfully slimming our non-humans?"
Well, Bonnie, your cats are representative of most of the cats in America. In fact, a recent study finds that 58.2% of cats are overweight or obese. It is not just a cosmetic concern. Overweight cats are more likely to suffer from a urinary disease, arthritis, diabetes, skin disease and more.
So, what can we do about this???? There is no one size fits all solution for every cat or every household. That said, what we are doing now is not working. Most of our cats have nothing to do all day except sleep and look forward to their next meal. Free feeding from heaping bowls is, without a doubt, contributing to this problem. We can add to this the insatiable human desire to delight our cats with endless, hand-fed treats and it is easy to see how we have created our dilemma.
No matter what you feed, how you feed must be addressed. In nature, cats spend 80% of their waking hours hunting for food. They hunt, catch and play with 5-20 small prey a day before eating their tiny meal. This goes on day and night. And nature has a terrific way of putting a cat’s meals in a different location all of the time. They must search for it using their nose first, ears second and eyes third. This is a cat’s physical and mental exercise and the way a cat is meant to be fed.
A cat’s stomach is the size of a ping-pong ball. When cats gorge large portions from a bowl, their stomach cannot accommodate this quantity of food, and they vomit it back up - scarf and barf. Feeding ping-pong ball sized (or smaller) portions of food throughout the day and night eliminates scarf and barf.
And one more thing - In nature, each cat goes out, hunts and eats their meals alone. Cats are solitary hunters. Sharing a bowl, and even sharing the same space to eat, can be very stressful for cats.
We can re-create this by using indoor hunting feeders. You want to make sure you have at least five hunting feeders for each cat and that each cat has been trained to use them. Then, you portion the dry food and/or treats into the hunting feeders and hide them around the house. Now your cats will have portion control, exercise and be fed in the way nature intended. When cats are fed in this way, they lose weight. You can weigh your cats once a week and add a reduction in portion size if necessary - in many cases, this is not necessary.
If you are feeding wet food, portion it into small amounts on saucers and place the saucers in various locations around the house several times a day - and use the hunting feeders for treats, so your cats get the complete hunting experience daily.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes in your house!