Monday, April 29, 2013

The biggest loser: feline edition

I had a rather awesome, but exhausting, weekend (with some very awesome and invigorating weather!), but I'm not going to talk about that for once. Instead, this will be a Dinah post. Which means probably not relevant or interesting to anyone but myself, but then again I do like to pretend, however transparently, that I write these mostly for my own edification. 

At any rate, the thrust of the post is this: my cat is fat. After talking to a friend who had cat weight loss success, I decided to make a drastic change to her diet. No more $15 dry cat food bags that last a month. She now eats food more expensive than mine. Well, okay, that's an exaggeration. I happened to stockpile cat food and frozen meat for myself at the same time, and yes her order cost more even with's new customer discount. However, I ate my meat purchases in under a week and her stockpile should last the next month or so, so there two aren't really comparable. Hyperbole aside though, this stuff is expensive.  

According to my friend and a lot of cat diet research information that she sent me and I mostly didn't read (because she had already read it and I trust her as a maven of everything from electric toothbrushes to, apparently, cat food), this particular brand has a higher protein content than many other wet cat food brands. The dry foods are mostly filler, requiring the cat to eat more (potentially gaining weight) without feeling full. While I don't follow a paleo diet for myself (except for that one ill-fated week a few years ago), I do appreciate the wisdom of getting more calories from fat and protein. And I'm not even a carnivore, as she is. Basically, I feel bad that I've been carefully measuring her dry food all these months and wondering why she wasn't losing (and gaining, if anything) weight. If she's fat, much like if I'm fat, I have no one to blame but myself (well, unless one of develops a thyroid condition or something). 

We bought a few starter cans of the stuff from a frou-frou pet store downtown to see if she liked it before bulk ordering. I was convinced for some reason that she would have difficultly with the transition, partly because she turned up her nose at wet cat food the one time I tried to give it to her (the free can the ASPCA gave me when I adopted her). I guess that was just the stress of the subway ride with a stranger though, because she inhaled it immediately. Other than the sardine cutlets in lobster consume (actual flavor), she pretty much eats anything we put down. In fact, she paces like a little drug addict while we're opening the can, meowing impatiently (and, I might add, obnoxiously). She starts her assault at around 5:30 in the morning. So basically, she's become a little shit. But at least now she'll live forever. If we don't kill her first. 

We're still working out her portion size. Right now we're experimenting with 4 ounces a day. I figure we can monitor her weight gain/loss for a month or so and adjust from there. I'm taking some photos so we can compare the differences as scientifically as possible. Before I started p90x, I took photos from every angle (as Tony instructed), but with cats, all things are more problematic.

Before shot 1: from behind. 

Before shot 2: less successful behind. 

Before shot 3: Front, in response. 

Before shot 4: Front, standing. Maybe this is all in my head, but I actually think she looks pretty svelte here. Trust me, this is all an illusion, lest you think I'm some sort of pushy pageant mom who wants their perfectly healthy cat to conform to some rigid standard of beauty. It is feline diabetes and heart health, I care about, nothing more!

Just for a little break in the Dinah photos--this one's from Central Park this weekend. Sam and I had a dance class nearby (in which we discovered we're remedial dancers because all the steps are new to him and I keep trying to lead), so afterward we enjoyed the beautiful day here for a while. 
Thanks for anyone still reading! As a thank you for reading so much about my cat, I tried to keep it as tasteful and interesting as possible (note how no descriptions of her post-diet-change stool made the cut!). Wish Dinah luck on her emotional week 2 of dieting. We'll get her to her vet-recommended goal weight of 11 pounds yet!


  1. I found it very interesting. 4 oz. is not much food. I guess if it's packed with protien she will feel full and not complain. But I can imagine she could make it very hard to work at home. Please include current weight, I am curious about how far you have to go. A cat in Houston recently died who had been adopted by a vet clinic where they did everything to slim him down from a totally fantastic weight. His name was Tiny Tim. You might want to read about him. I remember seeing shots of him working out on a treadmill.

  2. 4-6 oz is apparently the recommended amount, so we figured we would start on the low end if she's trying to lose. We actually started closer to 3 oz, but she rebelled, and it seemed to be out of genuine hunger rather than just whining.

    I'm not entirely sure what her current weight is. We don't have a scale, so the last time she had an official weigh in was at the vet's about 7 month ago. She was about 13 then.

    I read that article you sent about Tiny Tim. Very sad. They said they had him on a 300-calorie a day diet. I have no idea what we're feeding her calorie-wise. Then again, that cat had a lot more to lose than our Dinah.

  3. He he, you should meet Aileen's cat, I have never met a fatty so obsessed with food. You can't leave anything on the counter for two minutes or he'll eat it. He will break into closed bags of bread, lick any drippings off a plate that is not completely clean and bat a cheeto out of your hand as you're bringing it to your mouth (he loves cheetoes). I'm pretty sure if he was human he'd be one of those 500 lb dudes that fuses to their own couch. He has no shame about waking you up at any hour of the night to remind you that you should be awake and feeding him. He's lucky he's super cute, and I think he did lose some weight so there's hope for Dinah too.

  4. Good luck! We've been managing our cats through a combo of dry and wet food - and at one point when they were big fatties, we put them on a diet where we literally measured out their dry food and supplemented with the wet.

  5. Carolyn--I've enjoyed your tales of Linux and i've told the story of his knocking of snack foods out of people's hands (although, I thought it was potato chips, not cheetos). I will appreciate that Dinah doesn't like our food.

    Ania--We tried measuring for a while, but at that point we were only measuring the dry food, so I think that's why we weren't seeing results.