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Depressed and overweight indoor kitty

May 3rd, 2006, 12:26 AM
Hi all board members!

I don't know if anyone could help me out with this...I have two eight-year old cats, brother and sister. Lately I have noticed that the male (his name is Beefy, how appropriate in this case, although that's not why he was named so!) has really put on weight. He has also become very inactive and looks kind of depressed. His sister is more active and playful, and she is of normal weight. We live in a small 1-bedroom apartment (have been here for 2 years); before this, we rented a house and they could play in the yard every day, and he didn't have a weight problem. I have tried taking him out into the park near our building to play, but each time he panicks (shaking, meowing, crawled back into his kitty carrier and stayed there). He never did well with unfamiliar things. I feel very guilty that we cannot give him a safe outdoor space to play in.
About the depression...he is listless and refuses to play, even when I try to play with him. He has a million cat toys, catnip, the laser light beam thingy etc...he will play for a few minutes with me but loses interest fast. He mostly sleeps or lies around with his eyes open, looking at nothing. I have always given him lots of attention (hugging, kissing, etc., he is my baby) and I continue to do so, and he lets me. I just wish I could do something to make him happier...:( His sister seems able to find her own entertainment, she has always been more independent, and somewhat less receptive to our affection.
They have been eating Purina cat chow (dry cat food) for years, but Beefy's weight gain has only steadily increased over the past year or so. They are on indoor cat formula but I am thinking to switch to the diet formula. Beefy is very picky and will not eat most other brands of moist or dry cat food, he doesn't even like cat treats or table scraps. His sister is the opposite, she is a little vacuum, yet he's the one putting on the weight due to inactivity I guess. Well that's the end of my too-long post...I would really appreciate your knowledgeable advice!

May 3rd, 2006, 02:09 AM
I'm not sure about depression in cats, although they definitely can get out of sorts, for different reasons. In general they don't like change.

First, I would definitely take Beefy to the vet for a check-up, to make sure nothing is wrong physically.

Next, I would give what remains of the bag of Purina to the birds. It is truly bad food, full of corn and other crap that some cats have difficulty digesting. Good food (Innova, Wellness, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Natural Balance) is more expensive, but they eat less, poop less, and in the long run you will have healthier cats.

Some people recommend an all-canned diet for male cats because the extra moisture prevents bladder crystals (stones) which are more common in males and very painful. But if he is a good drinker and his kibble is rationed (no grazing!), he should be fine. If you go to a pet supply store (the only places that sell these foods), they'll usually give you some samples so you can find one they like. Mix in a few pieces with the Purina and see how it goes, then a few more, until there is no Purina and only good stuff.

Other than that, it seems to me, you are doing everything right, encouraging him to play, giving him lots of cuddles, etc. I guess the leash thing is not his cup of tea. Do you have a window where he can watch the world go by? How about a bird feeder? They love those!!

Oh, when you take him to the vet, they'll probably try to sell you 'vet food', for which they get a commission and which is mostly bad, not tasty and wildly expensive, so decline politely.

If you type 'cat food' into the search thread on this board, there are lots of resources to look at, diet is a frequent topic of discussion here.

Good luck!

May 3rd, 2006, 06:31 PM
Depression/lethargy, possible change in coat condition along with weight change can indicate a possible thyroid problem, so a medical examine should be considered just to rule out health problems, and being he is 8 that is a possiblity

May 5th, 2006, 12:54 PM
Thank you so much for both your replies! I will be taking him to the vet next week. Badger, I was wondering though when you talked about rationing their food, I have never done this. I thought cats are supposed to always have food available. How do you ration a cat's food? Probably after 8 years of eating whenever they wanted, they are going to complain! But I will do it if it will help my Beefy lose weight. Thanks again for your advice!

May 5th, 2006, 08:59 PM
Poor Beefy! Have you tried putting some cat safe plants around your apartment? That might help by bringing the outdoors indoors. Do you work long hours? I did once and I remember my cat being depressed then. Some of them need lots of companionship. I'm glad to hear you're taking him to the vet for a check up. It could be medical too.

For his cat food, perhaps you should try him on a canned and feed him twice a day. Between meals pick up the dishes so that they get nothing else until the next. If they don't like the canned you can always try it with the dry.

May 6th, 2006, 11:27 AM
We have had two animals with thyroid issues. One was hypothyroid and the current on is hyperthyroid. The first sounds just like your cat. I'd check it out. Good luck!