Monday, February 15, 2016

Fat Cat Saga - After One Week

This is Part Two of a continuing series on Boom Boom's weight-loss journey. Click here to read Part One first.

Yesterday, February 14th, marked one week. Boom Boom has been living in our bedroom, eating half a 5.5 ounce can of Merrick canned food twice daily. When I serve it to her, it has about a teaspoon of Miralax powder mixed into it. Jay normally does the breakfast feeding and I'm pretty sure he "forgets" to add the extra fiber.

Since she stopped taking the Amitriptyline, Boom Boom is more affectionate and energetic; not surprising since it's an antihistamine. Unfortunately, she's also been scratching more, but not terribly so. Perhaps Boom Boom's allergies are seasonal.

After her second day on the new diet, Boom Boom had lost six ounces. The goal is seven ounces in one week, so I figured we were going too fast. Rapid weight loss in cats can cause fatty liver disease so I adjusted her rations. I also started giving her a handful of dry food in her dish twice daily, just enough to cover the bottom of the bowl. I've been keeping a full bowl of dry food in the bath tub for the other, more mobile cats who need the extra calories. Until today, Boom Boom lacked the motivation to heft her body over and into the tub to help herself to more crunchies. Now that I've witnessed her chowing down in the tub, I need to find a better way to keep the extra food out of her reach.

I weigh the big girl every two days on the baby scale and document it on the spreadsheet I have on my dresser. I weigh myself then too, but so far the cat is more successful than I have been at losing weight. I'm blaming Valentine's and those damn addicting conversation hearts and chocolate.

So at the end of one week, Boom Boom has lost six ounces, one ounce short of her goal. The exact recipe is still in the works as you can tell by the spreadsheet. If you go by what I weighed her at yesterday, Boom Boom had lost one pound, 4.5 ounces. That seemed a bit drastic considering the day before, she was four ounces away from her goal. This morning, she was back to a more logical 22 pounds and one ounce so we'll go with that and rack up yesterday's weight loss to technical error. Boom Boom doesn't always enjoy standing on the scale and tends to wobble a bit.

Since I began this, I received a note from one of my kitten buyers, Christine, who relayed her experience with trying to get her previous cat to lose weight. I haven't tried her technique yet, but it seems like a good idea. It's also a reminder that the so-called "diet foods" are ineffective. The fiber in canned pumpkin is good for treating diarrhea and constipation in cats, plus most cats like it.

Hi Sharon!  I just read your blog and wanted to share what worked for us.  I adopted a cat about 11 years ago.  He was 2 yrs old and almost 24 pounds.  The vet beat me up every time and wanted me to buy the expensive vet diet food, which Oscar hated.  I moved and went to a new vet and got the best advice ever.  Oscar is now 13 pounds, which is right for his size.  The advice was canned pumpkin!  She said to start cutting it into the canned food until it was about half pumpkin and half canned food.  Oscar felt full, but since it's veggie, it passed through him.  Just be careful and don't buy pumpkin pie filling!

To be continued...

Top view of Boom Boom

Monday, February 8, 2016

Fat Cat - Starting a Diet

For the first time, I have an obese cat. Yes, being a Maine Coon breeder, we have large cats. We have pregnant cats. We have had the occasional "beefy" spayed or neutered cat. Now having an obese cat bothers me because I have preached to my kitten buyers to keep their cats at a healthy weight. Just because you have a Maine Coon doesn't mean you should have a 30-pound cat.

I am not a feline nutritionist, but I've learned a bit over the years of being a breeder. I advise my kitten buyers that if their cat starts to become too chubby, cut back on the dry food and increase the canned. Always feed canned food, no matter how inconvenient it is for you, because cats need the extra water in their diets. Drinking water is not enough. Canned food is more meat whereas dry food is closer to cat cereal and has way more carbohydrates. Male cats in particular need the extra water content that canned food provides to prevent urinary tract blockages.

I won't get into the raw diet because I have chosen not to feed raw. I have a fear of too much familiarity with the original food source and salmonella to go there. I refuse to even strip the Thanksgiving turkey to salvage the meat; that's what husbands are for. Even though I don't feed raw, I recommend that all cat owners read Dr. Lisa Pierson's site, Cat on feline diets. She offers ways to feed your cat a healthy diet, raw or not.

My readers may remember my blog last August about Dracoonfly Cosseboom "Boom Boom" and how I had to reclaim her from my mother whose own health is failing. When I brought Boom Boom back, she was on the thin side at 15-plus pounds, covered in flea bites, missing hair from all the scratching, and needed dental work. Her diet was changed (no more Meow Mix), she had many teeth pulled, and she was put on Amitriptyline to help with her allergies and anxiety. Once her mouth healed, Boom Boom starting eating with a vengeance. She stopped scratching and her coat grew back.

Even though Boom Boom was born in my house, had a very successful show career and made some beautiful babies for her first five years, at the age of 11 she is not thrilled living with a bunch of cats and two dogs. She growls defensively at any cat she deems a threat. Hence, I hoped the Amitriptyline would have the added benefit of helping her to deal with the chaos. However, Boom Boom seemed happiest to live with Bear, one of my two breeding males, in my son's old bedroom. It seemed to be a perfect arrangement. However, Boom Boom, went from thin-ish to fat. When I weighed her about a month ago on my baby scale, it confirmed what my eyes saw; she was now 20 pounds. With her large frame, Boom Boom's ideal weight is about 17 pounds.

At 20 pounds, Boom Boom was the heaviest cat in the house. As I mentioned, I have large cats, not fat ones. Most of my cats eat canned food together twice daily and free feed on dry food. Instead of feeding her separately, my first plan of action to get her weight down was to force Boom Boom out of her Bear cave and to travel the stairs to eat. She wasn't happy with having to deal with other cats, but Boom Boom hung out mostly on our kitchen counter, arguing with Bugger occasionally over who owns that space. But rather than losing, she actually looked like she was putting on more weight.

Out came my scale again. Yikes! About a month after my tough-love-get-out-and-use-the-stairs-diet plan, Boom Boom was now 22 pounds, a two-pound gain. I guess it goes to show you how important a scale can be to keep things in perspective.

Time to get serious. Time to try out the advice I frequently gave my kitten buyers if their cat starts to get fat; cut out the dry food and increase the canned. I refreshed my memory on feline weight loss with the Cat site and put Boom Boom on a canned food only diet. I add about a teaspoon of powdered Metamucil to her food. Cats that lose weight too quickly can develop life-threatening Hepatic Lipidosis (fatty liver disease) so it's important to monitor weight loss accurately. The recommendation is have the cat lose no more than 2% of her body weight per week. At 22 pounds, that would be 7 ounces, adjusting the goal as her weight declines. I put the scale in my bathroom and made a spreadsheet to track Boom Boom's weight and remind me to weigh her every 2-3 days.

Since I do currently have two other cats who like to sleep in our room with us, I put their dry food in the bath tub. Boom Boom currently doesn't have the mobility or motivation to jump into the tub for food. She's also lost the ability to jump onto our bed.

On a hunch, I Googled side effects of Amitriptyline. Sure enough, weight gain is a side effect. I'll have to get with my vet for something else to tackle the skin allergies as the meds stop today. Amitriptyline probably isn't the sole cause of creating an obese cat in 6 months, but there must be a correlation.

So stayed tuned for the continuing saga of my big girl. If your own cat is on the plump side, take a look at his or her diet and follow along.

"I'm not fat. I can still fit in the kitchen sink."