When Your Cat is More Fat than Fluffy
As my youngest cat, Henri, trundled up to me one Saturday morning, sitting squarely on my chest as I read a book, I realized something: my cat might just be more fat than fluff. But, like most people with cats, I am unsure of his breed, so searching the deep corners of the internet for a healthy weight for “generic cute cat” was not very helpful.
A trip to the vet confirmed my suspicions: my cat was not only fluffy, but he was very fat.
If you have ever had a harsh realization about your pet parenting and felt like a failure, rest assured, you are not alone. How had I let my once-tiny kitten get so big? What do you do when your cat is more fat than fluffy? Fortunately, I was able to make changes in Henri’s life that helped him get back to a healthy weight range and helped put a spring in his step. This is how I got Henri’s weight back on track.
Limit Feeding Times
Who else is guilty of pouring the amount recommended on the cat food bag into the bowl and going about your day, and then coming home from work and pouring more into the bowl and letting it sit? Just me? That can’t be right.
The first thing that helped me get my cats to a healthy weight was limiting feeding times and starting a routine. We put their food down in the morning and in the evening (around 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.), in separate rooms for each cat, and set a timer to only leave it down for 20-30 minutes. After that time limit, we pick the bowls up, save the leftover food, and go about our lives.
Starting this feeding routine not only helped get all three of my cats to a healthy weight but also helped keep them more content. In fact, cats thrive on routine, and starting a morning and night time feeding schedule seemed to lower their anxiety and drastically decrease their food aggression. They seemed to trust that they would be fed and stopped waking us up early to feed them. Everybody wins.
Monitor Serving Size
Have you ever noticed that the cat or dog food container or bag has a recommended serving size? Have you ever thought maybe it was too small, like when human servings are smaller so that they can claim it is a diet-friendly option? As it turns out, following the recommendation on the bag may not be a good idea because the recommendations are generic at best, and in some cases, are intended to make you run out of food faster so that you buy more.
Talk to your holistic or integrative vet to find out the right amount of food for your specific pets needs. Your holistic vet will take into consideration your pet’s activity level, current diet, and allergies. I learned that Henri needed less than a quarter of a cup of his food twice a day. For my older cats who battle UTIs, it was one-third a can of food each.
What’s Causing My Cat’s Overeating?
I was quick to blame myself for Henri’s weight, but just like people, cats can have emotional and physical issues that cause overeating.
It wasn’t until I was home with Henri one afternoon during a thunderstorm that I first realized he was shaking. With each boom of thunder, Henri would stick his head under my chair, and shake. Five minute into the storm, I noticed he started to pace. Then, after about 15 minutes, he went to his food bowl (which I had forgotten to pick up) and started nervously eating. As soon as the storm passed, he calmed down and stopped. During that storm, I saw that he was struggling with noise anxiety and it was causing him to overeat. I remembered that his previous owners had abandoned him outside during a storm, and immediately understood that this was possibly a deep triggering fear for him.
I started giving him CALM: CBD oil for cats, which is designed to help cats with chronic anxiety and situational fear. I put 0.5 mL of the CBD oil (about 4.5mg of CBD) under his lip, on his gums, the next time I saw the sky clouding up. After the calming CBD for cats, he took a nap and did not stress eat! Getting to the root cause of his stress eating has helped him stay at a healthy weight now, even if I forget to pick up the food bowls.
While thunderstorm anxiety was the underlying cause of my cat’s overeating, there are many other reasons your cat may be overeating. If your cat is overweight or overeating, talk to your holistic or integrative vet, as there may be an underlying cause, such as anxiety or diabetes. Or, sometimes cats just eat because they are bored, just like us. Either way, getting down to the root of the problem is vital if you discover your cat is more fat than fluffy.
Related: The Benefits of CBD Oil for Cats
About Krista Lyons
Krista Lyons is the mother to three cats: a tabby named Henri, a calico named Chloe, and a black domestic long-hair named Inigo. She has been caring for pets for over a decade and has worked as a journalist and writer.