Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cat Nutrition: Getting Cats off Kibble

Cat Nutrition: Getting Cats off Kibble

But They Like Kibble
My fur family started down the road of better nutrition after the addition of our elder states cat Buddy. He came to us on New Years Eve, 2009 and I give him the credit of our family getting
its nutritional act together.

A Common Story
Buddy may not have had the best life before he came to us. I do not think he was actually physically abused but he was neglected. He was a fixture and decoration at best. In those conditions food fills the void. People eat when bored or unhappy so do cats. He was almost 20 pounds. I did not give it much thought. I figured he was now in a much better home. He seemed very happy and then one day something changed my mind.

Big Buddy-Bud at almost 20lbs Summer 2010

That day he got a nice morning pet. He then jumped down off of the table and limped away. I mean Limped. The old rolling gait. I checked him for injury and there was none. Figuring he had pulled something in rough play with one of the boys I felt keeping an eye on him was all that was needed. Sure enough that night he was better. Until he jumped off the table that is. RIght then it hit me. It was joint pain related to impact. Impact is velocity and mass. Since it was a normal cat jump of thirty some inches the mass was the issue. Now mass is not really weight but, the reality was my Big Buddy needed to slim down. He has a lot of cat company.

Education on Cat Food
It was pretty obvious that Buddy ate too much kibble. He ate as much at Timmy and Toby together. The reason is most likely that he eats to feel better. Not exactly like a human since I doubt he dreams of chocolate or ice cream but similar. He feels satiety from a big meal along with feeling relaxed. I knew that as a responsible pet parent the goal was to help him manage his nutritional intake.I had to learn how. Imagine how I felt when I went online and found he was a kibble addict.

The Reality of Changing your Cats Diet
Getting our Kibble Addicts to start eating a more nutritious diet is a daunting task. My Buddy simply refused to eat anything but dry. He even demanded a special brand. Remember that this is a Billion Dollar Business and getting our cats to stop eating something that is engineered to be just what they desire will be difficult, but, worth the effort five times over.

Today when I feed my guys I am assured that I am helping and not hurting. Buddy is now about 13 pounds which took almost two years. The benefit is really getting him off the kibble. I do not worry about diabetes and his joints giving out. This is how I got my guys into Kibble Rehab.

Slim Buddy-Bud 13.1lbs June 2012 Even his feet smell good!

Some Caveats:

First: Do No Harm:
Do not let your cat go more than 24 hours without eating. This is very important. Many try and starve their cat into eating a new food. Starvation can cause hepatic lipidosis which can be Fatal. Never Starve Your Cat! Let me say that again. Fatal.

Second: Be Ready for Emotional Blackmail
Come on and admit it. Your cat has you just where he wants you. He says jump and get me a treat and you say how many. That may be the way we laugh about our cats but remember this is for health. Your cats will love you for longer when they live healthy happy lives.

Third: Gradual progress is the best progress
This is no different than a person starting a diet or beginning an exercise routine. Start slow. Ease into it. Do not expect your loving cat to know that you are helping them be more healthy. Be firm but consistent

Fourth: No Backsliding
You may be in a rush to get ready for that vacation and figure that the cat sitter may have an easier time with a fast pour of kibble. Remember you will have to start again at the beginning and the cat now thinks you can be manipulated. It will be harder the second time around.

Kibble Addict Rehab:
It is not rocket science as long as you remember the caveats.
  • Use trial and error to find a wet food your cat is CRAZY for. Try the gourmet foods and the wet treats. There will be one that kitty will eat. It is a science just like the dry food.
  • If you cats are grazing you have to start picking up the food between meals. I like a Breakfast-Dinner schedule because I work days. If you want you can do a Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner. Pay special attention to the second caveat when doing this change. Just pick the plates up and put the ear plugs in.
  • Once on a meal schedule your cats should be more animated and ready to eat at meal time. The idea is a very gradual change. Just start adding a bit of the favorite wet to the meal. You may find it is left behind. If so cut back a little on the kibble and try again.
  • Once your cats eat the whole meal the work is over. It is just a matter of a slow change of the amounts. Less and less kibble more and more wet food. SLOW is key.
  • Remember that treats are like dry food. Your cats may be more demanding of treats. My guys actually get dry kibble as a treat. I keep it in jars and at treat time get a handful which I divvy out to the family.
  • Be PATIENT. My Buddy took almost 2 months. Mainly because I was rushed a few times and forgot to buy his favorite which cause Backsliding. My other two made the transition in a week or so. They were never food oriented. They want Attention which they grew up getting plenty of every day.

Transition to Raw Feeding
I am going to try raw again. I am not sure when since my Cooked Chicken Meals are doing so well. If that is your desire all you need to do is follow the Kibble Rehab Plan but now use raw instead of wet. I say that as they should be eating wet before the transition to raw. Of course that is just my feelings about it. You could try a kibble to raw and see what happens. Follow your heart and love your pets and you will be well served.

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