We hit a milestone today with Remy’s diet; he’s in the 16s now.

About 6 months ago, we took our cat Remy to the vet because of aimless fears stemming from some recent, atypical behavior. Whenever a cat changes their behavior, it’s something to pay attention to, and Remy had been acting oddly. While the vet did find any cause, the bloodwork came back with elevated triglicerides – highly elevated triglicerides. Like, 30x what they should be. The vet told us that, while he was not yet diabetic, he was pre-diabetic and if we didn’t do something about his weight, we could find ourselves caring for a diabetic cat.

At this point, I should point out that Baby (Remy) has always had an eating disorder. He has some form of IBS; when he was a kitten, whenever we fed him he’d blow up like a balloon, and then run around farting for the next hour or two. We were told to keep him on a novel protein diet, and it did greatly help; ever since, we’ve been feeding him whatever obscure meat we can find: rabbit, duck, venison, mutton. Chicken and turkey – the two most common proteins in cat food – still give him problems to this day.

Along with his alergies, Baby is one of those cats that don’t self-regulate their eating. At the time of that vet visit, he was 19.8 lbs. The vet wanted to see him at 11 lbs. We were prescribed diet food and a regime, and thus began our diet journey.

While the diet is far harder for Baby than it was for us, it’s still heartbreaking to have a cat following you around yowling, and trying to lead you to the food area. The vet suggested ½c of the diet food a day. His maintenance amount of that food was 1c. To us, this seemed unreasonable and extreme, so we compromised at ¾c.

Our first challenge was the feedings. You’re supposed to feed your cats once or twice a day. We can get away with that with Tissot and d’Artagnan, but Baby just gorges his food and almost immediately throws it up. So we had to dish it out in tablespoons several times throughout the day. There were two problems with this:

  1. Everyone loves the diet food. This means we have to hover over Remy, fending off d’Artagnan and Tissot, until he finishes eating.
  2. We are the food-givers. This means that Baby begs constantly, at all hours of the day.

The second point meant that we were not getting much sleep for a couple of weeks, as Baby would beg in ernest around midnight through 2 am. We couldn’t shut him out of the bedroom, because he scratches and bangs on the door, and it didn’t muffle his cries much in any case.

Relief came in the form of an automatic feeder, and really, if you’re a cat-parent trying to diet your cat, this is the key take-away. These feeders are a godsend:

  1. They measure out precise doses. With the nutrition information on the food bag, it’s easy to plan and program a diet based on calories
  2. Ours supports up to 6 feedings a day. This is ideal for Remy, as he doesn’t throw up the small portions
  3. It has drastically reduced the begging; we are not the source of his meals anymore, and while he’s not completely stupid and still knows we’re a source of food, the feeder is the reliable source.
  4. It’s very regular, and Baby is surprisingly good at telling the time. He has two aids in this: first is his own belly – he knows when it’s been about 4 hours since his last feeding. Second is a grandfather clock we have. He’s picked up this behavior around feeding time(s) where he’ll go sit in front of the clock and wait for it to chime through the hour. Then he goes over to the feeder and sits and stares fixedly at it until it coughs up the portion. He really only does this around feeding time; he ignores the other clock chimes. It’s a neat party trick.

This only works because we switched off the diet food. We can’t use the diet food, because his brothers would steal his meals… he’s not a dominant cat, and won’t fight the others for the food. Because the other boys have free access to the same food (up on the counter, onto which Baby is too fat to jump), they leave his feeder alone. I don’t know what we’ll do when Baby is skinny enough to be able to jump onto the counter and get to the free-choice food bowl, but that’s a problem I’ll be happy to have to solve.

So, after 6 months and a fair amount of struggling on everyone’s part, we’ve gotten Baby under 17 lbs – our first milestone. That’s a 3(ish) lb loss – around 15% of his body weight, equivalent to me losing 35 lbs. We’re shooting for under-15 lbs for him – 11 lbs seems a bit extreme to us – but we’re really wanting his triglicerides to come back in a normal range, and that’ll be the ultimate decider of how far we go.

It’s good news, and we’re very proud of Remy.