calico cat

Question:
Am I feeding my cat too much or not enough? She is a 5 year old, spayed Calico. She eats 3/4 of a can of Hill’s Science Diet Metabolic a day plus 1/3 cup cereal at night. She climbs on the kitchen counters and opens cabinet doors looking for food. She weighs 11# now up from 10.8 a few months ago. Is she trying to con us into food she doesn’t need?

Dr. Nichol:
Cats can be such an enigma. We veterinarians often wish they could speak a human language but at the Nichol house I’m sometimes glad they can’t. The way our cats complain to the management is fodder for entertainment but that’s only because we think we know what they’re saying. It could be worse than our darkest fears.

Your cat may not be uttering a sound but her ravenous appetite is crying out for a diagnosis. She could be suffering from an internal disorder like diabetes or thyroid tumors. She needs a thorough physical exam and a fasting blood panel, thyroid screen, and urinalysis. If it’s all normal her doctor can move on to other considerations. An adjustment in diet and behavior management might be in order.

Science Diet Metabolic canned food is an excellent choice. Much like Mother Nature’s feline menu (helpless rodents) your cat is eating a high protein, low fat, low carbohydrate diet. I recommend providing it on demand and eliminating the dry stuff. Cat food in a bag is cheaper but typically carbohydrate rich. Starch is necessary to make those baked kibbles stick together. Cats are not physiologically adapted to digest biscuits. Dry food can foster feline obesity, painful joints and diabetes.

Your cute calico may object strongly. It’s the texture of dry food that drives some cats to domestic terrorism. Be ready for cussing, mayhem, and a violent coup.

Many indoor cats exist in barren environments. Your girl’s prying open of cabinets and her tossing of your pantry may become unnecessary if you provide appropriate behavioral opportunities. You’ll find a list of feline environmental enrichments on my website, drjeffnichol.com.

Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog, or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.