It’s that time of year when healthy eating is on my mind - thanks to my annual New Year’s resolution. But did you know that this doesn’t just apply to me? It also applies to one of my cats. Bean has tendencies to be an overweight cat. He likes to help himself to food and eat whatever he can find at every opportunity.
We got Bean as a kitten from a rescue in Cyprus about two years ago. He was found on the street as a very young kitten. He’d had an infection which had gone untreated, causing scarring on his eyes. He only has partial vision but he manages very well to do whatever he wants.
As with all of my cats, at the vets annual check up, weight is checked and I often get told hmm… could loose some weight. As a typical owner, I usually say he is a large cat all over, with long legs and elongated body as well as being muscular. But the vet is right, and it is noticeable when he gets rounder. It seems that Bean's ideal weight is about 5.5kg and when the vet commented, Bean was 6kg which is large for a domestic, moggy.
Since the first check up when the vet mentioned Bean’s weight, I keep an eye on it. As with humans (i.e. me), Bean puts on weight gradually so I don’t notice until it is a large amount.
Bean has three pouches a day – breakfast, tea and supper. He has a snack of dry food at lunch time. In a puzzle feeder. Any treats he has to work for. However, there are other ways of him getting food.
Why does Bean put on Weight?
We feed Bean separately from the other cats as he gulps his food down and will bully the others out of the way to get to theirs.
However the two girls are slower eaters and like to go back to their food. As soon as Bean comes out of his room, he races to see if they’ve left any food. He will finish off any that’s left. I try and put their food away so he can’t but if there was only a bit left, I let him finish it so I could wash the bowls.
Bean is a very active cat and is always on the go. However, he is always hungry too and will eat what he can find including human food.
He is quite fond of scavenging and bin diving. We are on our fourth bin as he found his way into the other three. Each time we thought we’d found a safe one, but he would work out how to get into it or knock it over. We even had 10kg weights at the bottom of one so he couldn’t push it.
We have had fights over soggy leftover beans on toast he has grabbed from the bin. Sometimes he will skulk off out of sight and eat it quietly. Other times he will run around the house at top speed growling with the treasure in his mouth.
Bean always comes running as soon as we come in. If it is from the food shop, he will try to grab what he can and run off with it. If we don’t see him when we come in, we forget. We have found loaves of bread chewed including the plastic hidden. Carbs are his weakness. (Again, like me.) He likes all food not just what is good for him.
Lack of exercise
Keeping Bean occupied can be difficult but the best thing we ever did was to make the garden cat safe. As he can’t see very well, he had to be a house cat but now he can go out and play in the garden. He loves watching the birds and flies.
I’ve got no idea how he does it with his limited eyesight, but he does chase flies and even catches them.
As the weather deteriorated, he wasn’t as keen to go outside. Also, there was less to keep him occupied outside. Not as many flies to chase.
How we helped him loose weight
It is really basic how we helped Bean loose weight - increased his exercise and reduced his food intake. As with humans, he needed a calorie deficit.
Even though I know this, it’s on to me to make the effort to take away the opportunities for him to scavenge. This is making sure that the leftover food from the other cats is removed before he can get to it and to put the children’s leftovers in the bin.
Christmas meant that I had bought a few treats for the cats I visited as well as my own. The treats were given in suitable, limited quantities. Plus he had to work for them!
In early December we decided to decorate the living room. Bean was involved every step of the way as he is interested in everything. When I cleared the room, he ran around with me. Up and down stairs many times! Then once the room was cleared he was interested in what was going on and ran around checking it all out. Sometimes, I had to shut him out of the room as it wasn’t safe. (Yep he walked in the paint.) He even helped when the new carpet was put down.
Since then, there was Christmas which involved the kiddies being at home. My daughter plays with him a lot and keeps him occupied.
The beginning of 2023 has had better weather so he has been outside more. It is great to see the sun!
Bean is always on the go and interested in everything. This means he is not a lap cat. If I call him, he will come running.
We’ve got lots of activity toys but his favourite thing is chasing a ball/toy which is thrown for him. He will sometimes drop them at our feet to play.
Bean Progress Update
Over the six weeks, Bean has managed to loose 300g. I’m really pleased. It doesn’t sound like much, but it takes him down to a more suitable, healthily weight. He has lost the podge around his tummy. I need to keep an eye on it as it is easy to slip back into bad habits. At his current age and activity level, it is reversible but I know it will be more difficult as he gets older.
What is a cat's ideal weight?
All cats are different so their ideal weight is related to breed, life stage, medical issues etc. This is a great chart from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
If in doubt ask a vet or vet nurse. Some vets have weight clinics.
How to weigh your cat
I don’t have scales suitable for weighing cats. Plus they would be unlikely to sit still as they do at the vets. So to do it at home I weigh myself holding the cat, then take off my weight.