Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Cats are Going Low Carb Too!

Not only am I overweight, but so is one of my 2 cats. Cookie, our 18 year-old, is quite trim and has never had weight issues. Xena, however, is a little furry blob.
Who? Me? Fat?

She was a cute, tiny active kitten when we got her. In fact, we named her XENA because she was such a fierce little thing, and much to Cookie's annoyance, pounced on anything that moved. Cookie was 8 years old when Xena was brought in to the household, and once she was past the kitten food stage, started eating the same food that Cookie always ate. Delicat dry cat food.

"I am Cookie and I am not amused"

I knew of people who did scheduled feedings, but it was never anything I ever considered. I have had dogs and cats over the years, and they all had free access to a bowl of crunchies, and none of them were ever overweight. Well, until Xena that is.

By the time she was 3, people were making comments about how fat our cat was. Cookie was 12 at the time, and we thought about changing their food to a diet food, but Cookie didn't look like she needed to lose weight and we didn't want to disturb her eating pattern. After all, she was just fine. Since Xena had bonded to our oldest son, we decided to buy JUST HER some diet food and put it in a bowl in our son's room. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

What actually happened is Xena would only eat the diet food at the times she accidentally got shut in our son's room. Then, when finally let out, she would wander back to Cookie's bowl and then eat her food too!

That experiment was a failure, so we just let them eat their Delicat and didn't stress about it. We had other things going on in our lives, and the cat's food wasn't very high on the priority list. Years later, things calmed down a bit, and we decided another experiment. We would put Cookie's dish on top of the dryer. Cookie had never had any trouble getting to any high spot, and in fact, used the top of the dryer and the linen shelves as a nice place to get away from her fat, but playful kitty-sister. Xena was just too obese to jump up on anything that high. It seemed to work, but Xena REALLY hated the diet food and didn't seem to be losing any weight. Then I noticed, that while Cookie could easily jump up on top of the dryer, she seemed to limp a bit after jumping down. Cookie was getting too old for the acrobatics.

Now, with Xena at 10 and Cookie at 18, I finally got a clue. Through my weight loss I learned about carbohydrates and the damage they can do. It seemed logical to me that if a HUMAN can be harmed by a diet high in carbohydrates, why wouldn't this be the same issue for a cat? After all, cats evolved eating meat even more than people. And they eat the WHOLE animal, including the brains, eye, and internal organs. Their natural diet is high in fat and high in protein. When I tried to help Xena lose weight, I was accidentally feeding her the very things that made her fat in the first place...grains and starches.

Wheat gluten, corn gluten, rice, and other starchy carbs are the main ingredients in many commercial cats foods. Last time I checked, none of these things wandered the plains of Africa just waiting for my cat's big cousins to hunt them down and eat them. There are no lions or tigers stalking wheat and corn. They go after MEAT! So why are we now feeding our felines corn, barley, rice, wheat gluten and other garbage? I thought about wet food, and had given it to them on occasion as a treat, but a label check showed many of them to be full of garbage too. A quick check online led me to FelineDiabetes.com. They listed wet foods that contained no grains. There was even a site that listed the carb content for dry cat foods.

NOW I was on to something! I ended up buying Fancy Feast brand wet food after carefully reading the labels to find the flavors that did not have fillers. (MAN! I thought reading labels for people food was a pain! The type on the cat food is SMALLER!) I put out a can one morning and the cats loved it. So far so good. I still needed a dry food to help them transition to a new way of eating, so I ended up buying a dry food that was MOSTLY meat, but still had rice in it. I have some dry food on order that has no cereals and a very low carb count.

It has only been 2 weeks and they still have a carby dry food, yet I already noticed a difference in our rolly-polly fur ball. She has gone from 22lbs down to 20lbs. Yeah Xena!!
Cookie, our senior citizen, is as spry as ever and has had no trouble adjusting to the wet food. I put out 2 cans each morning, and while they do nibble a bit on the dry food later in the day, they don't eat nearly what they used to. Our erratic schedule (and the additional cost) makes purely wet feeding very impractical. But I think the cats will do fine with their morning wet food and some type low carb crunchie available the rest of the time.

Of course, they never tell you that once you get a cat used to a feeding schedule, changing it can have dire consequences. The girls now expect breakfast promptly at 6:15am. Sleeping in on weekends is not allowed. And whatever you do...DO NOT let your husband feed them at 4:00am some morning since his own snoring woke him up anyway. That happened a couple of days ago and I am still having to throw things at the door so they will stopping clawing at it trying to get me to wake up early and feed them. While happy my cats are getting healthier, I am sleep deprived and quite cranky right now. Hubby and the cats might not live long enough to continue this low carb experiment. If they weren't so cute, between the begging cats and the snoring husband, I would have killed them all ages ago.

Low Carb Dry Cat Foods available from Amazon.com

Wellness Core Cat( Wellness Core Cat 5 Lb 14 Oz )


PJ said...

Your cats are lovely. :-)

I have 8. Soon to be 4 I hope if my ex comes and takes his home!

I have started 'occasionally' feeding them some of the food from canidae.com (felidae is the cat food). They LOVE IT. They are nuts about it.

I can't afford to feed it to them regularly. But the two cats that had issues with skin ailments (that the doc said was based on internal body organ issues) and exhaustion and crankiness, improved a LOT with the stuff. A lot.

I tell myself that at least occasionally they are getting a few healthy things ingested. I'm working on being able to feed them good stuff more often; paying for shipping doesn't help!

Nice blog here. I really relate to some of what you're saying. As a former lower-fat foods, former vegetarian, who only got huger and huger and more miserable and medical symptomized, and who after going on lowcarb not only started losing weight promptly (while eating more than I ever have in my life--but in GOOD things) but had an instant "vanish" of tons of medical symptoms -- I relate!

I saw a quote from Gary Taubes's recent book that suggested, to add to your sugar-feeds-cancer notes in a later post, that in one study, "For every 5 percent of saturated-fat calories that replaced carbohydrates in the diet, the risk of breast cancer decreased by 9 percent."

Wifezilla said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog :D

I am loving the Gary Taubes book...I am on page 156 so far.

I am glad you are getting good results out of the low carb eating. Despite being in a one month stall, I feel great and I have still lost inches.

I understand how the added expense of the low carb food can get to you. I am really glad I can just go down to the Walmart and pick up the Fancy Feast. Having that 1 can of wet food in the morning really has helped them...and they eat a lot less dry food now.

pengu1 said...

There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.

My cat weighs 17 pounds and is already on diet food. When he wants to get fed in the morning he just jumps from the floor onto my stomach or chest. That hurts. What kind of dry food did you get them, if you don't mind my asking?

Wifezilla said...

No truer words have ever been spoken :D Hee hee hee

I ended up ordering a bag of the Innova EVO Cat & Kitten food.

They like the taste, and even though it is low carb it does contain some potato. I would try Core Wellness or the Nature's Variety if your cat has diabetes.

Anonymous said...

Why not just feed them meats and liver? Why buy industry-made food? Cats in the wild don't run around with can-openeners or have I missed something?