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I’m wondering if you can give me some advice on how to

Hello, and good day.I’m wondering...
Hello, and good day.I’m wondering if you can give me some advice on how to properly feed a multiple cat household, and help me figure out where I might have gone wrong with our cats lately. Their behavior around food has gotten very strange, after some recent changes, which were designed for better weight management, and I’m not sure why, or how to fix the problem. We have 4 cats. One that’s 2 years old (Penny), two that are 3 years old (Dot and Farrah), and one senior cat that we think is about 14 (Poppy). All are spayed females with no obvious health concerns. They had been eating Purina Beyond dry kibble (the white meat chicken and whole oat recipe), and they have 4 separate bowls that I always just kept full so that all cats could eat whenever they wanted. We also fed occasional wet food in the evenings.A few months ago, I noticed that Dot was putting on too much weight. Penny and Poppy weren’t terribly overweight, but it wouldn’t hurt them to lose a little. Farrah is a natural bean pole, but even with her, a small amount of weight loss wasn’t going to hurt her any. I know a lot of people say to feed them meals, rather than allowing them to free feed, so I attempted to do that by cutting their dry food back to ½ cup of dry food in each bowl, figuring that would be their morning meal, and then at night, I started giving them what probably amounts to about 1/3 of a 6oz can of wet food per cat (varying brands and flavors). After doing this for a few days, I noticed that by evening, there was still quite a bit of dry food left in their bowls. Since their morning dry food serving was intended as a meal, and not something to be grazed upon throughout the entire day, I wondered if I hadn’t reduced their dry food enough. So, I reduced it further to a quarter of a cup per bowl. Even then, at the end of the day, there was still about the same amount of dry food left over as before. Not wanting to starve them out (since they seemed to be slowing down their eating in response to the change, perhaps to make the food stretch longer?), I settled on giving them 1/3 of a cup in each bowl every morning, and then the wet food at night.
The younger cats seemed to do okay with this, and Dot seemed to be losing some weight. Poppy, however, (the senior cat) seemed to just lose interest in food altogether, and she started losing too much weight too quickly. Although she is not dangerously thin, I wouldn’t want her to lose any more weight, and we’re having trouble getting her to eat. Some days, she does really well, and I will see her going to the bowl multiple times. Other days, I’m fairly convinced that she doesn’t eat anything. And now, lately, I’ve noticed that all cats are turning their noses up at the dry food, and also leaving more wet food behind than normal. Some brands of wet food, they’re hardly touching at all anymore. I’m pretty sure Poppy didn’t eat at all yesterday. This morning, I offered her a small amount of a completely different kibble (Instinct, Rawboost chicken meal), and she gobbled it right up. The others also seemed interested in this new food, so I mixed a bunch of it in with their Purina Beyond food. There is currently a little over a half a cup of food in each bowl, and I’ll be very curious to see how much is gone when I get home later.Why have our cats suddenly grown finicky with these new changes? Are they just bored with the same dry food, and maybe switching them to something different will help? How do I get them back on track? And how do I feed them “meals” when they don’t eat enough in one sitting to adequately nourish them?
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Answered in 16 minutes by:
3/19/2018
petdrz
petdrz, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 7,676
Experience: Over 30 years of experience in caring for dogs and cats.
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Hello. Welcome to JustAnswer. I am Dr Z. I'm reviewing your question now, and will post back with a reply ASAP.

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Thanks for trusting me to help you and your pets today. I am a licensed veterinarian with over 30 years of experience and would be happy work with you. Please allow me a few minutes to type a more complete reply and then we can chat up and back if you have further questions.

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Over the more recent years, it has been noted that cat do better for many reasons when fed a canned food as their source of calorie intake and allow the dry kibble to serve mainly as a treat or snack. This is especially true if dealing with overweight cats. Dry food is way to high in carbohydrates and many cats that eat dry food exclusively become overweight and even develop diabetes. Just as in people, a high carb meal offering causes the blood sugar to spike and then drop rapidly as the blood sugar falls. This is what leads to cravings in people and what causes many cat to become grazers.

Most cats of average size (10-12 pounds) will require between 200-250 calories per day and it is best if that is split up between two feedings. You can usually find the calorie content per can listed on the can or online, but if not, I can forward a cat food chart that has most brands/flavors listed. If used to kibble only, it can take awhile to transition over to wet food, but since your cats were used to it, it shouldn't be that hard. I suspect the fact that when you increased the wet food, they started leaving more of their dry food, it was likely due to the fact that wet food is lower in carbs and higher in protein so is metabolized more slowly and they stay satiated for a longer period of time. I would start by offering each cat half of their intended daily allotment of wet food twice a day and maybe offer a very small amount of dry in between the feedings as a snack if they seem hungry. I often recommend that the dry snack be offered in a treat toy type of apparatus, something that makes them work for their treat.

It is always important, when making any food change with cats, that you verify that they are in fact eating something. It can be dangerous for a cat to not eat at all for even a few days as it can lead to liver disease, which can then add to the anorexia. Cats don't like change, so sometimes it just takes a while for them to accept it. In Poppy's case, I wonder if she may be experiencing some degree if underlying GI disease. I see this on a daily basis in cats in the clinic and sometimes the only sign is intermittent decease in appetite. I would try to find a canned food they all like and monitor her eating and weight, but if you find she has days where she eats better than others, it may be a good idea to have her worked up for possible inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have ANY other questions. My goal is to give you 100% satisfaction and if you are not yet satisfied, please reply so I can clarify for you. Please remember to rate my service by selecting the 5 stars at the top of the screen.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
One thing I should probably have mentioned about Poppy is that, although she likes wet food, she doesn't do a very good job eating it. She licks it right out of the bowl onto the floor, and only a very small amount actually makes its way into her. I do add a fair amount of water to her food, which helps, but this tendency in her makes me hesitant to put her on an exclusively wet food diet. And she just doesn't eat big quantities of it. I've given her as little as a tablespoon at a time, and she doesn't finish it all. This was true, even before I started making changes to their regimen. IBD might be a possibility with Poppy though. Her stools have always been normal, but she has a tendency to vomit more than the others. It's not something that happens every day, or even every week, but probably at least once per month. How is IBD diagnosed? And yes, if you would send me that food chart, that would be great. Thanks!
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Also, as far as finding a wet food that they all like, that is challenging too, since "what they like" seems to change quite a bit. They used to absolutely devour the Merrick rabbit chunks in gravy, which comes in pouches. Lately, they're hardly touching it. And they have different habits, which was true even before these changes. Penny is one of those cats that likes to devour everything within a 10-mile radius. Farrah eats pretty well, but she's always been prone to getting bored with her food, and needing to be given something else. Is it okay if they don't get the same wet food each time?

IBD is so very common in cats and there is a whole spectrum of presentation. I see some cats whose only symptom is that they vomit intermittently and we used to blame it on hairballs. We now know that a cat with a normal GI tract should be able to pass hair that is ingested. These intermittent vomiters are vomiting due to their IBD and the hair just happens to be in the stomach when they vomit. IBD can be a challenge to confirm as it can be present and there can be no other abnormalities noted on bloodwork, xray or even ultrasound, although these tests should be run to rule out other conditions that present with the same symptoms. There is a specific GI blood panel that can be requested and if abnormalities noted, can lend support to either pancreatic or intestinal disease. The only way however, to confirm the diagnosis is with a biopsy of the intestine. This can be done via endoscope, but is better performed with an exploratory surgery. The problem with this is that many cat owners are not willing to pursue the diagnosis by these means. It is for that reason that many cats are "suspected" to have IBD or GI cancer as the cause of their hyporexia (decreased or picky appetite) once all of the other easy to find things have been ruled out.

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It is absolutely ok to switch brands or flavors of food or even textures of food. My cats go up and back on if they like chunky or pate varieties.

Here is a link with more information about IBD - LINK HERE

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
If Poppy were to be given an official diagnosis of IBD, what would be the recommended treatment?

Here is the link with the info about commercial diets and the calories. LINK HERE It is in the section titled "diet related documents"

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As far as treatment, every case is different and tailored to their particular symptoms. If her only sign is a wavering appetite, appetite stimulants can be useful to keep their intake more regular. If she was found to have low cobalamin (vit B12) levels as many are, B12 supplementation can help jump start these cats as well. In some cases, there is bacterial overgrowth in the gut and probiotics can be helpful or even antibiotics specifically for the gut. I recommend that all of my cat owners purchase a baby or pet scale to use at home weekly as weight loss is one of the earliest signs of disease in cats.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Before spending money on a whole bunch of tests for Poppy, would it be worth trying a food for sensitive systems (such as the Hills Sensitive Stomach and Skin wet food), with some probiotics mixed in?

It certainly wouldn't hurt, but I usually find that diet change alone is not successful, at least long term. Good luck with her and the rest of the crew!

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Also, do you think that Poppy's recent anorexia is due to the recent diet changes, or do you think she probably already had an underlying issue, and it's only coincidence that she's having more trouble lately?

I think it is more likely the latter. It might be worthwhile to at least have her examined and have your vet prescribe an appetite stimulant. The drug called mirtazipine is very effective and in many cats does not even need to be given everyday.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Yep, I'm familiar Mirtazipine. Okay, thanks. You've been very helpful.

You are very welcome. Please don't forget to rate our conversation.

petdrz
petdrz, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 7,676
Experience: Over 30 years of experience in caring for dogs and cats.
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Thank you kindly for the positive rating and the bonus. It is truly appreciated.

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Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Customer
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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Hello. Thank you for following up! All cats have resumed normal eating habits, except for Poppy. She's still being finicky, but part of it seems to be that she no longer likes the food that I've been giving them. I've introduced her to a different food (Instinct Raw Boost Chicken). She eats that, occasionally with quite a bit of enthusiasm, although I have to bring it right to her. I offer it to her in the morning, and any time that she seems hungry. When she's hungry, she comes out and sniffs at the other cats' food, but she won't eat it. Poppy also readily eats her wet food, so she gets that once a day, but she's even though she likes it, it's always been difficult getting a healthy quantity into her. She licks at it, and more ends up on the floor than in her. Adding water to it helps a lot, but Poppy has never been one to eat large quantities of canned food.

Thank for the report. I would definitely purchase a pet scale so you can keep track of her weight weekly.

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