Is there anything I can do about my cat meowing for food?
Hi. I hope you can give me a little advice. We
have a 17.2-pound female Maine Coon. She is approximately 12-13 years of age with no health problems except her weight.
Our vet says shes overweight and that we should only
feed her 1/2 cup of Hill's Prescription R/D food
every day. I feed her twice that but she eats what I give her immediately and then begs for more. She starts meowing around 5:30am for feeding and after she's eaten all of it meows again. Her meowing is constant. Is there anything I can do?
First, let me say that you are in very good company. Many patients in my practice have eating habits like your cat's. Some pets never seem satisfied with the amount of food that they receive. The begging, vocalizing, and pestering that follow from this constant hunger can be maddening. And, I must confess, if my cat woke me up demanding food at 5:30 am, I'd be mighty tempted to cave in and feed her so that I could get some sleep.
Also, I must warn you that getting a cat to lose weight is always an uphill battle. Most cats won't play fetch or go for walks, and in general cats are extreme couch potatoes. However, the health consequences of obesity are severe. Even if feline weight loss is a slow and arduous process, it is worth trying.
You have already taken the first step, which is to feed a low calorie diet. R/D is a weight loss diet, and others are available. These diets allow pets to feel more satisfied (in theory) while consuming fewer calories and therefore not gain weight. In theory. Obviously, this tactic alone doesn't always work. In your situation, additional steps will be necessary.
I can think of two tactics that you can employ. The first involves tricking your cat into eating more slowly. Various toys are available that can be filled with food. As a pet plays with the toy, it slowly releases the food. The most famous example of this is the Kong toy, which can be filled with dry food or treats. Kong toys work great for dogs. Sadly, they aren't appropriate for cats. However, I have seen plastic balls that can be filled with kibble. These balls will release the food as they roll along the floor. Ideally, your cat will bat the ball around (getting some exercise in the process), and consume a piece of food each time one is released. By the time she has emptied the ball, hopefully she will be too tired to bother you for more food.
Another approach to the problem is to convince your cat that you are not the source of her food. This can be accomplished by purchasing an automatic feeder, which offers a measured amount of food at set intervals. The feeder must be the only source of food for your cat. Once she learns that no amount of meowing will make the feeder give her more food, she may cease her annoying behavior. You may have to suffer through a painful, noisy period before this tactic is effective, but that is better than dealing with obesity-related health problems later on.