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Let's get backstory out of the way. I live with my sister in an apartment, she used to own two cats, but instantly gave one to me after I moved in because she hates that one cat a lot (long story). My cat, Zelda, is overweight because she eats the vast majority of the food we put out, while my sister's cat, Stanley, rarely eats at all for some reason. We can't do any kind of feeding schedule because Zelda will just eat most of the food before Stanley gets to it anyway.

Both cats used to have free reign of the apartment, but my sister got incredibly pissed that Zelda scratched the leather couches (just by jumping off them, she doesn't claw at anything), and now the door that leads to the dining room and living room area is always closed.

My problem here is that my cat is overweight, and getting increasingly fatter, and I can't seem to do anything about it. The cats have a limited space to roam around in, Zelda eats most of the food, and here is the worst part: she never plays with anything. I've tried every type of toy ever made, laser pointers, rolled up aluminum foil, ping pong balls, all that stuff that makes cats go crazy - and she looks at it for a second then continues sitting there. If we put out less food, Stanley would probably starve to death because he's an idiot, and diet food has the same effect of making him dangerously skinny.

So I'm at a loss at what to do here.

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Can't take it outside and hang around with it or something every now and then?

Start taking your fat cat out for some walkies :v

That's a good idea, but winter in Chicago is about half the year. Not to mention I work second shift, which throws a spanner in the works.

Edited by Lisek
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@Lisek - Greetings from the Chicago suburbs. 

The key here is you have to establish a feeding schedule, and it has include controlled feeding and the proper food for Zelda. She needs to have a reduced-calorie food like Purina Cat Chow Healthy Weight, and it has to be portioned appropriately. Stanley's good to stay on regular food, but it is going to have to be placed in a separate dish, along with Stanley, in a room that's closed off from Zelda until Stanley finishes his meal. This isn't tough to work into your daily routine, unless he's a hard-core grazer he'll be done in ten minutes or so. I'm sure Zelda will be done well before then, based on what you're writing about here. 

Her lack of energy / indifference to play is very probably related to her weight, though a visit to the vet for bloodwork is a good thing to do in order to rule out other conditions (especially ones that may be contributing to her obesity).

You may find this article on feline obesity to be helpful.

I'm happy to offer up other tips and ideas around diet and encouraging exercise, as well as managing food. I've been dealing with feeding multiple cats special/assigned diets in this household for years now. And, over the last three years, I've also worked on rehabilitating obese cats that were brought into the shelter; we've had some very good results.

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Get them on a feeding schedule and feed them in seperate rooms. Stop feeding them poor quality food, look for grain-free cat food. Anything that is low in carbs will be suitable.
Your cat probably doesn't want to play because his/her joints hurt from the weight. Over time, your cat will slim down and be more playful.

When I got my 4th cat, Moose, he was about 20lbs or so, eating poor-quality food. I switched him to good food, and played with him a shitload. He's now thin and fast and energetic. Getting your cat on a better food will bring up energy as well.








He's still a big boy (I'd guess around 18lbs) but he's a lot happier and healthier now. I have him on a Petsmart brand called Authority Grain-Free (salmon flavour)

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Thanks for all the advice. My problem, however, is that I don't have another room to separate the cats with. All I have is a large dog crate. I'll have to talk this over with my sister, she is the one who feeds the cats in the morning. It's going to be a hassle because she hates Zelda so much she'll probably be reluctant to help me...

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Why does she hate Zelda? Is it just because it's a fat cat and accidentally scratched furniture once? If so, I hate your sister. <<

Good quality food will do a good bit to help overall. It is also possible that Stanley doesn't eat much because he doesn't like the food and only eats what he absolutely must to keep himself from hunger pains, but he may also have trouble eating overall. I've found most of the grain free foods have a lot of questionable stuff in them to replace the grains, unless they're super expensive. Plus, if you don't know what you're buying, you can actually end up buying something higher in calories with less protein under the assumption that grain free means it has to be less caloric overall. Check the labels and do a bit of research on what does what for cat food. This site helped me a lot when figuring out food stuffs, like what ingredients are bad and good and what's the best I can get in my price range. You can try posting there about your situation and lots of people will respond.

The one I've been using for my two rascals is Walmart's brand of "high quality food" called Pure Balance, specifically the chicken. It's actually pretty damn good for the price and to top it off the kibbles are quite small. My retarded kitty Nom has a hard time eating bigger kibbles, which I honestly didn't realize until I tried this food on them and he was clearly eating better. When I can afford it I want to get them on a mostly wet diet because the fatty of my gang (he isn't really fat, but is quite a bit heavier because he eats a normal amount and is just plain bigger) doesn't like the wet quite as much, but the littler guy absolutely loves it and it's so much easier for him to eat.

Best wet foods for a medium budget if you want to try them are Hound and Gatos (chicken and beef) or Evanger's chicken. (If you want a link to a site where you can buy one can at a time to try it, I can toss it at you.) I choose to avoid stuff with fish because a) it makes them smellier and b) apparently there's some possibility of bad stuff being in the food because of the fishies. Fish flavored junk is cheaper tho and in nearly everything, so it's hard to find foods without it. You also want to avoid anything with carrageenan, it's linked to kitty cancer supposedly.

Also, to entice Stanley to eat you could try adding this (would need to be separate from the fatty's food though, you can also offer him the tube and have him lick from it). My vet gave it to me for the retarded one because he nearly died after refusing to eat and drink, among other issues. He has a pretty good appetite now, all because of that stuff.

Edited by Kinare
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Fish based food is actually my favorite typeto feed my pets (both cats and dogs). Avoid ANY food that has corn or by-products. The main nutrition source tends to come from the bone meal so you want that towards the top of the ingredient list. As a general rule of thumb, if the brand is heavily advertised, it is bad. My boy grew up on Purina and was also always super skinny. Switched to Blue and his weight stayed about the same but he stopped throwing up every week. Switched to Taste of the Wild this last year and he finally put on weight and his coat became super soft and thick. 

Also, add water to Zelda's or feed her canned food. The water content will fill her belly and help when you cut her food back. My cats are on a half cup a day and even then they don't often finish it.

If need be, use the crate. Give the cats a time limit for their food and take it away when it's over, they'll learn quickly (Stanley especially) not to leave food about. This will also keep Zelda from stealing. 

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