Sunday, September 21

Ruby's reduction diet

My cat is on a diet.

Well, kind of. We never really realized that she was getting bigger and bigger by the year until my brother pointed it out on a recent trip up here. It's one of those things--when you see them every day, you can't get outside the proverbial fishbowl and see how they've changed. Sort of like presidents. I'm always shocked when they show a picture of Bill Clinton or Bush or whomever when they first came to office. They invariably look so much thinner and younger than they do now. So when Brother mentioned how fat Ruby was getting, we dug out the old photos. He was right. She's huge.

For the eight years she has been with me, she has had a bowl of food at all times. In the early years, she was disciplined. She ate only enough to curb her appetite, and then off she'd go, tracking bugs or finding string or tackling the dogs. Not anymore. I leave her food out all day, and she eats all day. Then sleeps. Being an older cat, she doesn't play as much as she used to. She's also not too keen on change.

I decided the best solution to easing off some of the excess weight would be to just feed her less. Same food, just less of it. (Which reminds me, I'm now reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I think I was on the library waitlist forever. OK, back to the cat.) Figuring changing her brand would be too much for the picky adorable thing that she is, I just reduced the amount I thought she was eating each day. This means giving her breakfast and dinner with the dogs, which makes mealtime very active in our household.

She eats regular old cat food, not vegetarian/vegan varieties. As much as I hate giving my money to the meat industry, I'm not convinced that a vegetarian/vegan diet is healthy for an animal that is almost entirely a carnivore in the wild.

Ruby hasn't lost any weight yet (maybe I'm giving her too much? 2/3 cup, 1/3 at each meal?), but she has taken to following me around for hours before breakfast and dinner. I think I've tripped over her more in the last month than I have in years. She is more cuddly and playful now, too. Perhaps I should have been doing this all along.


Nadine said...

I fill Vermont's food bowl once a day (before bed) and it is always close to empty at that time. He's still pretty active, especially with the puppy chasing him around. If he starts packing on the pounds at some point, I'll reconsider free-feeding. Good luck with Ruby!

BerryBird said...

We had a fat kitty who the vet pressured us into putting on very expensive prescription low-fat cat food. [It is highly regulated, too--I was once with my stepmother at her vet and decided to pick up a bag to save a separate trip. They wouldn't sell it to me--apparently it is dangerously low in fat.] We faithfully shelled out the big backs for several years, and she did lose about 2 pounds, but no more. In retrospect, I don't really think the expensive food was worth it.

If your new plan of simply feeding her less is making her more active and playful, that alone is a good thing--even if she ultimately stays pudgy. 1/3 cup twice a day was the same amount of food we gave our fat kitty.