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Calories Per Day Requirement

Calories Per Day Requirement

Postby DavidBeckham » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:33 pm

I have a 8 year old, long haired, fixed,indoor, female cat that has always been overweight. Currently she is 14.5 pounds. I think she should be at 12. I feed her twice a day w no free feeding or treats and I am focusing on wet foods with greater than 40% protein and less than 15% carbs. On occassion we do a diet dry food for her teeth. I have been "dieting" her "catkins" style for well over a year allowing her about 170 calories a day and she has not lost any weight. She was checked for hypothyroidism and diabetes and was ok. My question is how low can I go calorie wise before we see results? According to what I read online I am allready starving her. She begs for food all the time.


ANSWER: I totally understand your concern about her weight.  I have a couple of questions though...what brands of food are you feeding and approximately how much at each feeding?  Please check out some of my past AllExperts answers on brands, feeding schedules, and amounts to feed.  Many foods are labeled inacurately, as the pet food industry has very low standards.  You can't really trust what you read on the label unless you trust the manufacturer to provide valid information.  If the food contains any grains such as corn products, rice, wheat gluten, etc. then I would recommend changing foods immediately, as they are loaded in sugars and will keep excess weight on her.  In general, wet foods contain fewer carbs, so you are correct in feeding those.  However, again, you have to be wary of the brand.  If you are currently feeding a high quality diet which is grain-free, and she continues to retain weight, I would suggest implementing her diet with raw if you can get her to eat it...as it is straight protein, will make her feel fuller for longer, and help her to lose weight faster.  If she's begging all of the time...this is not good and is a possible sign that her diet is lacking.  A truly premium grain-free, by-product free, organic diet, especially those containing raw, do not cause the blood glucose spikes that are followed by severe hunger pangs which just cause begging.  If she's on a high protein diet you shouldn't be seeing constant begging, as she should feel full for longer and be satisfied until close to her meal time.

Hope this helps...

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thanks but I have been trusting the labels as well as online sources for ingredients,calories and ratios of proteins/fats/carbs. What other choice do I/we have? If something by definition is higher protien than it would have less of those bad ingrediants you list. I find that even the most touted cat foods have ridiculous ingredients such as rice and cranberries. I take it that they must be better than corn and gluten for a cat? Rice and cranberries are carbs too. I do not agree that the only good foods are from company a and company b. Some commercial cat foods are better than prescription.

Anyhow, I read that kitties should have 15-30 calories a day to maintain their current weight. And a calorie is a calorie regardless of which source it comes from.

My monster is getting only 10 calories a pound-according to online sites- and still not losing. I guess the sites are wrong. If they where right she would be dead with liver failure and skinny. Back to the drawing board.
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Calories Per Day Requirement

Postby Hulbard » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:40 pm

Most sources will tell you that a cat should average around 15-30 calories/pound a day to maintain weight.  This value does assume that the cat is healthy and active.  So, if your cat isn't quite as active as you think she should be, you will need to decrease calories further.  And yes, a calorie is a calorie regardless of it's source.  However, you can't take the total amount of calories listed on a can of cat food as valid, just because it's posted on the can or bag.  Most people who reference food info online are using these values.  Sadly though, many aren't accurate.  If the cat is getting quality supplements and plenty of fresh water, you can safely decrease the daily caloric intake, gradually, until the pet is at a desirable weight.  Then, feed just enough to maintain a healthy weight.  If your cat isn't losing, then I would suggest decreasing her food even further.  However, you can't expect a cat to lose weight in just a month or two.  Weight loss should be gradual with realistic expectations.  If she needs to lose several pounds, it's the healthiest and safest for her if it's a gradual process over several months, if not nearly a year.  For a cat, size-wise, it would be comparable to a 300 pound human to try to lose 100+ pounds in a very few months...it's just not realistic and would be unhealthy to try to lose that much weight in a such a short period of time.  Even 2.5 pounds can take months to come off of a cat, as that can be 1/4 to 1/5 of their entire body weight.      

Now back to calories: The problem with the foods that contain grains, especially those that contain wheat gluten and corn as they yield more carbohydrates and sugars than most other carb containing ingredients(including cranberries which are often added as anti-oxidants), is that they literally cause the animal to become hungrier sooner, do not feel full for a prolonged period of time, can cause water retention which adds to body weight, can decrease metabolism, and can cause lethargy with obviously decreases the activity level of the cat and the amount of calories that are burned.  All of this is a result of the fluctuation of insulin levels that you see after a cat(a natural carnivore) consumes high levels of sugar.  They stay hungry and never seem satisfied with their diet...and can burn calories slower due to decreased energy/activity level.

The two brands that I recommend, the Wellness and the Nature's Variety, I only do so because I have researched them extensively and have found their ingrediets to be much better than others.  In particular, they are MUCH better than widely sold commercial foods such as Purina, Eukanuba, Science Diet, Hills Prescription Diet, etc.  As all those brands are loaded with fillers(grains, paper mill by-products, euthanized animals, livestock that was not fit for human consumption, chemical flavorings, etc.)  I ultimately feel that the BEST pet diet is 100% raw and supplemented with a quality product like Platinum Performance.  However, this is too inconvenient for most people, as it's difficult to make, store, and feed.  Thus, in my opinion the healthiest brands are those I mentioned...if you must feed a commercial brand.  I also recommend Innova, Feline's Pride, and a few others, though have only moderately researched their brands.  I've found, fortunately, that the products which label and market themselves as being by-product free, grain-free, and containing human-grade products are in fact just that.  They use quality ingredients without harmful fillers and do in fact contain fewer carbohydrates and higher protein(protein derived from high quality human-grade meat products).  Thus the reason that I recommend only a few brands and am totally agains most big name commercial brands.  

You don't just want a certain percentage of protein/fat/carbs.  You want to know where/what those products were derived from.  Plant protein does not equate animal protein.  ...and animal protein derived from rendered animals which was extracted and then re-added to a food is NOT what I consider to be a natural or healthy source.  Cats, being carnivores, have a short digestive tract which was designed to digest bulk meat, bones, and tissues directly, and in bulk, and to digest them quickly.  They were only designed to eat once or twice a day and never graze on food, especially kibble, as it's quite hard on their digestive tracts and only leads to obesity.  If you were to go solely by percentages on labels, you have to take into account the phosphorous content, calcium, magnesium, and ash content in addition to that of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.  That is, assuming you can even trust the manufacturer to label it correctly.  The phos. and calcium will usually give you an idea of how much actual meat the food contains...if the protein content is high and those values are as well then you can assume the protein is from a meat source...but there is no guarantee.  Nor is there any idea of what type of meat it came from...or if it was merely a waste product from a processing plant.    

I totally understand how frustrating and discouraging the whole process of learing about feline diet and nutrition can be.  I went through the entire process quite a few years ago when one of my cats was diagnosed with diabetes.  It was then that I learned how unethical the pet food industry can be and how careful we have to be in choosing foods.  After changing to an all natural diet, my cat no longer needed insulin and was healthier than he'd been in years.  I now feed all of my animals the brands that I mentioned in addition to quite a lot of raw.  The only reason that I do not feed 100% raw is that I don't currently have the room to store that much food, as I breed dogs and have numerous cats.  I do feel that 100% raw is THE BEST diet for them and certainly the most natural.  

If I were in your situation in dealing with your cat, I would attemp to feed her raw chicken and beef both in the morning and at night, as I only feed twice daily.  I feed combinations of hamburger meat, steak, ribs, boneless chicken breasts, whole chicken wings, etc.  I also get meats directly from a local butcher and feed various bones with muscle and other tissues.  You can easily offer beef and chicken at the same meal and add supplements to ground beef to administer them.  When feeding raw you don't have to worry about caloric intake much, fortunately, as it being solid protein they get full faster and rarely ever will you see a fat animal that is eating straight raw.  If your cat isn't crazy about raw and you choose to feed one of the brands that I mentioned, I would try the Nature's Variety raw or canned first.  She can safely eat 1/4 a can twice per day, and certainly less than 170 calories a day.  Just don't expect an immediate drop in weight...but within two months you should notice that she has lost some!

Best of luck with your cat!
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