The other day Tony and I took both cats to the vet for their yearly physicals and shots. The two cats are from the same litter, but only one of them, Jackson, has issues with his weight. His brother Pepper eats whatever he wants and still manages to stay slim and trim. A while back we noticed that Jackson was looking a little extra chunky, so we started giving him less food each day, but despite our efforts, the vet told us that Jackson had gained some weight since last year.
We left the office with information on Jackson's recommended calorie amount-220 per day. To figure out how much food that was, the vet suggested we contact the manufacturer to find out how many calories a cup of food contained. With that information we could figure out how much to feed Jackson.
I didn't have any luck finding the information I needed on the company Website, so I called their information line this morning. A nice woman was happy to help, but she explained that each variety (there are almost a dozen) has a different number of calories. I buy several different flavors (because I figure the cats like a little variety), so I'd have to call back every time to get the information I needed. There had to be a better way. A little searching led me to the Pet Obesity Prevention Website. It was full of great information and tools, including a chart that listed the calorie contents of the most common cat foods.
I didn't realize that there was such a large range of calories in the different formulations of our cat food. It ranged from 362 calories per cup to 460 calories per cup. Sadly, the flavor the cats are currently eating was close to the top of the calorie list. I was unknowingly contributing to Jackson's weight problem! A few calculations showed me that for Jackson's 220 daily calories he could eat a scant half cup of the current food, but if he changed to a different, lower calorie flavor he could have an extra two ounces! I've tried to lose weight enough to know that could be the difference between being hungry and grumpy or full and satisfied.
This afternoon I went to the pet store and purchased a bag of "Healthy Weight" cat food. In my diet there's a rough correlation between calories and taste (more usually means it's better). I don't know enough about cat taste buds to know if Jackson will understand he's being consigned to the equivalent of bland portion control, but he's never been a finicky eater in the past, so I don't think we'll have a problem. His new eating plan starts tomorrow.