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I have a ten years old cat that I used to fed twice a day but now it asks for food every time she sees me. I started to feed her three times a day and she has grown considerably fat.

Is this good for her?

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How fat is "considerably fat"? Do you have a weight, or can we see a photo? It might help. –  VictorySaber Apr 29 at 15:24
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6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Smaller meals more frequently are better for your cat than fewer larger meals.

I wouldn't feed it "as much as it wants" unless it is keeping a good stable weight.

Try to feed it so that it maintains a stable weight and is not too skinny or too fat.

If she is too fat (as you suggest) trim her down, you can still feed her multiple times a day, just cut the portions down. Don't do a crash diet, feed her so she slowly looses the weight.

You could probably consult your vet by phone for free in regards to what an ideal weight is for your cat.

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The answers provided so far are quite good already: overweight is dangerous for the cat's health and frequent, smaller meals are better than one/two big meals.

So your solution is to reduce the quantity of each meal, possibly keeping two or three meals a day.

Stimulate your cat's hunting and chasing instinct

What I would like to add is that it is normal for cats to be on the hunt all day long. The innate instinct of cats is to hunt their preys, which are usually rather small. The way we feed our cats usually goes against their predatory instinct and cats can become bored about food or feel uncomfortable not having a possibility to access food (reference).

Additionally hunting or "playing for food" is an excellent mental stimulation that will benefit the cat mentally and physically.

So I would recommend giving the cat access to some kind of food puzzle. A few well known options are (see links and pictures):

As you are now feeding your cat "the usual way", you could proceed step by step: give your cat half of his meal in a bowl, when he's done put the other half in one of the toy and given him access to the toy. If he likes it, you can then just fill the toy twice a day.

I assumed that you feed your cat dry food, the question "Should my cat be allowed some wet food every day?" has excellent answers about wet food.

One good solution would be to give your cat wet food once a day, and free access to a toy with dry food during the day. If you control the quality of the food and its quantity this is not incompatible with preventing the cat to gain weight.

References

You can also have a look at this paper: Environmental enrichment for indoor cats which is a detailed discussion (problems and possible solutions) in reference to the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) position statement on Environmental enrichment for indoor cats. Both cover cats' feeding issues.


Pipolino

Pipolino

Kong

Kong

Catit feeding maze

Catit

Tiger bowl

Tiger bowl

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The brand my better half got for our cat (with great success) goes by the every-so-exciting name "tiger bowl". Actually they seem to have rebranded it the "SmartCat Tiger Diner Portion Control Cat Bowl". But shatever they call it the cat likes it and lost weight a few ounces a month for a couple of years and went for verging on obese to just about right with no complaint or fuss. We keep it full and let her free-feed from it, but it takes long enough to get the kibble and she get full and bored before she overeats. –  dmckee Apr 30 at 1:58
    
@dmckee I didn't know about that one. I included it in the answer. –  Cedric H. Apr 30 at 10:29
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Or you can do one yourself, be it a plastic bottle with a hole (not recommended, greasy food crumbs everywhere) or something more elaborate. A simple fixed pot too thin for the cat head works also pretty well. –  Skippy le Grand Gourou May 6 at 9:03
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If the term you're using is considerably fat then the short answer your question is: no, it's the opposite of good. In fact, it's very bad for her. Here's the essential risks of obesity in cats:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Dermatosis (skin diseases)
  • Liver disease (feline fatty liver syndrome)
  • Lower urinary tract diseases
  • Decreased lifespan

Not sure if your cat is obese, that requires some measurements that a vet can perform for you, but if you're seeing the change, chances are good that it will get worse. So, what can you do? Well, food choices and your resistance to her demands are going to matter. Some things to do:

  1. Ensure the protein content in her food is high and the fat content is low.
  2. Fiber in her diet can improve her metabolism, increase her feeling of being full, but not add the calories.
  3. Reduce the food intake gradually.
  4. Reduce any treats.

Now, you should still take her to the vet for a consultation and check-up.

Why?

  1. They can determine her proper target weight for her breed, size, and age.
  2. They can recommend some appropriate food volumes and a reduction strategy to bring her weight down in a controlled an healthy manner.
  3. The check-up can determine a baseline for future comparisons which, if she is obese, should happen monthly with the vet.
  4. Once the target weight is hit, they can help provide guidance on how to maintain.
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As supplementary information to the other answers, a veterinarian will be able to give you advice specifically for your cats needs, whether it needs exercise, healthier food, or different feeding times, similar to my answer for How much should I feed my puppy?

A vet will also use a weight chart to determine the condition of your cat, as shown below, which can help find a course of action specific to your animal.

enter image description here

More information can be found at PetObesityPrevention.org

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What I remember from the cats I had, they like the canned (wet) food, not so much the hard dry food. Give them limited wet food. I don't know what a normal cat would need, but that won't be too difficult to find out.

I always had a tray with dry food in the kitchen and they could eat as much as they wanted. So they always had sufficient food available, and if they were really hungry, they could eat as much as they needed. Most of the time the tray was filled and they didn't eat much of it.


Read the book Don't shoot the dog by Karen Pryor. It's a fun book about behavior, and how you can change it by using positive and negative reinforcement. Spoiler: negative reinforcement doesn't work - especially with cats, but... positive reinforcement does work really good. This book is mostly about dogs, but you will find some really nice insights in your own behavior, and it might inspire you to handle your cat differently.

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Good that you mention positive reinforcement. Feeding time is usually a good moment to ask for a nice behaviour, the food bowl is then the super reward. –  Cedric H. Apr 29 at 15:54
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Becomming too fat is rather unhealthy for cats, especially if they have little excercise. But now that your cat is used to getting fed three times per day, she might become a little bit annoying if you switch back to two meals. However, you can feed smaller portions, i.e. not give her the whole pack at once. Cat food can be stored in the fridge for several hours, and if you let it warm up a little bit before feeding, your cat may not notice.

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