Info Feed Kitty As Much As They Want?

Discussion in 'Feline Health - (Welcome & Main Forum)' started by Jill & Alex (GA), Oct 20, 2018.

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  1. Jill & Alex (GA)

    Jill & Alex (GA) Senior Member Moderator

    Dec 28, 2009
    A copy and paste of the post "Feed Kitty As Much As They Want?" listed in the INDEX: Health Links/FAQs worth posting again:

    It could just be a case of "repeat speak" commonly found on message boards, but prevailing wisdom these days seems to be to feed a diabetic kitty "as much as they want". Overfeeding may be ok if kitty is underweight, but many of our diabetics are "fluffy" to begin with. :D

    I felt it was time to resurrect an old post from Dr. Lisa referencing a prior FDMB post by Hilary/Zug for your thought and consideration:

    Feeding hungry..... unregulated cats
    Posted by: Lisa dvm (IP Logged)
    Date: April 11, 2009 02:42AM

    Vic is right when she is discussing a happy medium.
    Please see this post:

    why food should be somewhat controlled...
    Posted by: Hilary & Zug(GA) (IP Logged)
    Date: December 1, 2006 11:22PM

    Here's a really good explanation of why NOT to overfeed/feed until "satisfied":

    In general, brain cells do not need insulin to utilize glucose. A specific area of the brain, called the appetite center (in the hypothalamus), monitors the amount of glucose that circulates in the bloodstream. The lower the blood glucose level in the cells in the appetite center the greater the appetite. Unlike most of the brain cells, the ability of glucose to enter the cells of the appetite center is dependent upon insulin. In diabetes mellitus, with its lack of adequate insulin in the bloodstream, these appetite center cells don't monitor glucose levels properly, thinking the blood glucose is low. as a result, the pet develops polyphagia to correct for this perceived problem. The additional food that is then eaten further increases the blood glucose level.


    Basically, a cat that's unregulated can't really tell what's going on with its appetite, and the high BGs make the cat even hungrier. It's something of a balancing act -- you want to be sure you're feeding sufficient food that the cat is getting the nutrition it needs, especially to help reduce the risk of ketoacidosis, but you don't want to overfeed (which often happens when the cat is "hungry"). The poor cat doesn't know if it really needs food, it just knows that its brain is saying "need food now!".


    Me: Active (albeit intermittently) on FDMB since Dec 2002.
    Zug (GA): B&W Japanese Bobtail, unknown age.
    Diagnosed 12/18/02. Tightly regulated on PZI-VET for most of his fight with diabetes. Died of peritoneal carcinomatosis (a very invasive form of cancer) October 19, 2005, and sorely missed.


    Lisa, dvm
    [] Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition
    [] Feline Diabetes
    [] Feline Obesity: An Epidemic of Fat Cats
    [] Feline Urinary Tract Health
    [] Quality Commercial Canned Foods
    [] Making Cat Food
    [] The Litter Box From Your Cat's Point of View
    [] Pilling Cats and Dogs - The Dangers of Erosive Esophagitis
    [] TLC Cat Rescue and Adoptions - Pictures of a few of my rescued cats and kittens
    [] Feeding Tubes Save Lives


    Overfeeding can make it more difficult to pull those numbers down. As Hilary said, "The poor cat doesn't know if it really needs food, it just knows that its brain is saying "need food now!". Many of our diabetic kitties are overweight to begin with. More than one of us have found feeding a diabetic kitty "as much as they want" leaves us with an even fatter kitty. Obesity can also create more problems.

    IMHO, we DO have to reach a happy medium. When Alex was initially diagnosed and put on insulin I calculated how many calories she "should" be consuming using the guidelines found on Dr. Lisa's website. I started out with X amount of calories and then added an extra 3oz can to the total food consumed daily since diabetic cats do not utilize their food properly. Within a few weeks of being treated with insulin, I gradually reduced the total amount fed to the amount of calories she *should* be consuming. Feeding mini-meals throughout the day seemed to help satisfy her. The end result was a kitty who maintained rather than gained.

    Maybe it's time to re-think the advice to "Feed kitty as much as they want"?

    Edited to add on 05/20/2013:
    Unfortunately, we are no longer able to access the Feline Diabetes Message Board where this discussion originally took place, but many thanks to Hilary & Zug (GA) and Dr. Lisa Pierson.

    Edited to add on 06/14/2016:
    How much should I feed?
    Feline Calorie Counter

    Veronica & Babu-chiri likes this.
  2. Misty2007

    Misty2007 Member

    Oct 19, 2018
    I definitely need to come back and read this later!
  3. Djamila

    Djamila Well-Known Member

    Aug 1, 2015
    Jill this is really helpful, thank you for posting it!

    What about the kitties who join and have already lost a lot of weight and are now underweight? Is this the kind of thing where "feed as much as they want" is good advice for our underweight kitties, but bad for our healthy or overweight kitties? Or should calories be limited even for those who are underweight because of the impact noted above on BG levels?
    Jill & Alex (GA) likes this.
  4. Jill & Alex (GA)

    Jill & Alex (GA) Senior Member Moderator

    Dec 28, 2009
    Kitties who are at their ideal weight or overweight don't need to eat as much as we're led to believe by all the advice we see on the FDMB to "feed as much as they want". OTOH, an underweight kitty needs to eat.
    No, calories should never be limited while a cat is underweight. Feed skinny kitties. :)
  5. Lisa and Witn (GA)

    Lisa and Witn (GA) Well-Known Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    My rule for feeding my cats is to wait at least 30 minutes or more after they eat to determine if the really want more. A couple of mine will scarf their food quickly and then keep begging for more. Most of the time when I wait, they stop begging.
  6. Jill & Alex (GA)

    Jill & Alex (GA) Senior Member Moderator

    Dec 28, 2009
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