How can I maintain/slightly lower my cat's weight?

BeccaT

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So we just took our cat April to the vet to get her updated on shots and for a general wellness check. The vet told us that she's supposed to be 10lbs but is currently 12lbs and advised us to be more careful with how much we feed her, but it's not a major cause for concern yet. As long as we don't go over 12lbs at least.

The problem is that our other cat Annie is the same weight but overall a smaller and younger cat than April. Neither of them (at least to me) look necessarily overweight when looking at them from the top down but I'm of course going to listen to our vet. She said as an example if we feed them 1 cup a day to make it 3/5 cup but we don't even feed them 1/2 cup of dry food a day if we stick to what we usually give them. I also have sometimes fed Annie more than April as she seems hungrier than usual but doesn't visually look like she's putting on any weight.

I currently feed them both Purina One Indoor Dry cat food twice a day (using the measuring cups we have, it's 2tbsp in the morning, 1/4cup at night) and in the afternoon I feed them 1/4 cup wet Friskies food each just to make sure they have moisture in their diet and because we can't afford to have them on a wet food only diet. Is this too much food? Should I lower the amount of one and keep the other the same? I apologise for asking this but I'm struggling to figure it all out because I'm worried I'm inevitably leading my cats to be overweight. I also saw they make gravies/soups and was wondering if that's better (calorie wise) to give them, although I do think they drink enough water.

I am guilty of sometimes giving them snacks throughout the day when they butter me up, but I'm absolutely going to stop with that. Both me and my husband are also guilty of not playing with them as much as we should because of our work schedules and the fact we have to separate them when we want to play with them as one won't play if the other is already playing, which can be a pain and sometimes they don't get completely into the play because they're distracted by the other one at the door.
 

FeebysOwner

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The real problem is if you feed your cats together, do you know how much one is eating vs. the other. Can you gauge that? The other thing to factor in is if they both weigh the same, your vet is very well likely to tell you that Annie could use to lose some weight as well. I am not saying vets don't gauge appropriate weight by looking at each cat's body structure, but it does seem odd that most stuff you read, and most of the vets I have had, keep referring to that good old '10 pounds' number.

It is only a generalized rule of thumb, but typically a cat needs about 20-25 calories per pound of bodyweight to sustain their weight. Some guides will go as high as 30 calories per pound. Nonetheless, using the former range, a 12-pound cat could sustain that weight on about 240 - 300 calories a day. How does that equate to the calories they are now consuming? I personally would never reduce a cat's caloric intake by more than 5-10% at any one time. This allows the cat's body - and mind - to gradually adapt to a lesser amount - and weekly weigh-ins can tell you how that is working. On 300 calories a day, that would be a reduction of no more than 30 calories a day - and, ideally 15 per day would be better.

The hard part comes when considering how much carbs/fat is contained in dry vs. wet food. Wet food is usually lower in most cases. If you find that your cats' caloric intake is close to that generalized standard above, then it could be the carbs that are making the difference.

Bottom line, you need to look at their overall body condition, and pay less attention to the scale number. Have you looked at some of the charts that are available? I have included one below, but keep in mind one thing - none of these blasted charts that I have seen ever depict the normal primordial pouch most cats have (that saggy belly skin sack immediately in front of their hind legs). So, whatever chart you use, take that into consideration. Even cats in the ideal range have it.

Body-Condition-Feline-Chart.jpg
 
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BeccaT

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The real problem is if you feed your cats together, do you know how much one is eating vs. the other. Can you gauge that? The other thing to factor in is if they both weigh the same, your vet is very well likely to tell you that Annie could use to lose some weight as well. I am not saying vets don't gauge appropriate weight by looking at each cat's body structure, but it does seem odd that most stuff you read, and most of the vets I have had, keep referring to that good old '10 pounds' number.

It is only a generalized rule of thumb, but typically a cat needs about 20-25 calories per pound of bodyweight to sustain their weight. Some guides will go as high as 30 calories per pound. Nonetheless, using the former range, a 12-pound cat could sustain that weight on about 240 - 300 calories a day. How does that equate to the calories they are now consuming? I personally would never reduce a cat's caloric intake by more than 5-10% at any one time. This allows the cat's body - and mind - to gradually adapt to a lesser amount - and weekly weigh-ins can tell you how that is working. On 300 calories a day, that would be a reduction of no more than 30 calories a day - and, ideally 15 per day would be better.

The hard part comes when considering how much carbs/fat is contained in dry vs. wet food. Wet food is usually lower in most cases. If you find that your cats' caloric intake is close to that generalized standard above, then it could be the carbs that are making the difference.

Bottom line, you need to look at their overall body condition, and pay less attention to the scale number. Have you looked at some of the charts that are available? I have included one below, but keep in mind one thing - none of these blasted charts that I have seen ever depict the normal primordial pouch most cats have (that saggy belly skin sack immediately in front of their hind legs). So, whatever chart you use, take that into consideration. Even cats in the ideal range have it.

View attachment 433133
Thank you SO much for all of this! It's exactly what I needed to know and I'll be sure to calculate everything and figure it out when I can.

And yeah, I was never too concerned with their scale weight because I've seen these charts and how they look "visually" is actually more important when figuring out if they're overweight or not, but after today's vet visit I felt a bit like our vet was being a bit passive when she first mentioned (to our cat, not us mind you) that our cat was a 10lbs cat but in a 12lbs body and it wasn't until my husband spoke up and asked if we should be concerned that she told us about it directly.

I do think they're both about a 5 or 6, so it's something to keep an eye on I know if they're a 6. And yes I agree about the pouch! Annie has a bigger pouch than April but they do both definitely have visible pouches that sometimes makes me wonder if it's fat or just the saggy skin.
 
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FeebysOwner

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My vet for years said Feeby was overweight - and she was. That was because at one time she weighed 17-18 pounds!! But she was a dry food grazer, had to have so much in her dish not to fret over thinking she might be starved (even though she didn't ever once finish the food), and I just said screw it. She decided on her own that she no longer liked dry food and would only eat wet. Between that and getting older, she lost a lot of weight 'on her own'. She weighs about 11-12 pounds now, and there are still vets that say she is overweight. Well, you know what, 11-12 is OK by me, and she falls within the range I noted above in terms of calories. She is 18+ yo, so I know I am comparing apples to oranges with your cats, but Feeby and I are 'good'. :wink:
 
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