Pet Furniture DSC07681

Published on January 30th, 2008 | by Jules Yap


how to make your cat lose weight

can’t stay away from food? piling on the pounds? then you’ve got a fat cat problem. the solution is not gym sessions but a feeder cage.

in cassandra’s multi-cat household, she usually leaves dry food for her cats to eat anytime they want to. but vernon, a previous stray, doesn’t know when to stop and has become overweight. cassandra built a feeder cage from an ikea kitchen cart (which she have long forgotten the name of) which only allows slim kitties to get in and nibble.


she tells me, “we did it with an old kitchen cart. the little doorway was made from two ikea picture frames. (ed: the cats crawl through the picture frame doorway to get into the cage. the doorway is made smaller than big vernon) the longer sides are hinged and latched with velcro so that we can get in and out for cleaning and stocking.”

slim cat gets to eat

click the link to see instructions and more pictures of cassandra’s cat feeder cage.

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

53 Responses to how to make your cat lose weight

  1. Anonymous says:

    My issue is that of our three cats, its now actually the middle-sized one who is overweight. I’m contemplating putting together a similar system but with a door that is activated by RFID tag on a collar … and to the haters, please try thinking/understanding/reading before you post calling this cool hack “negligent” — they only thing you’re being negligent about is knowledge acquisition.

  2. You gave me the inspiration for my cat. I have had trouble keeping my dog out of my cat’s food. Here is my solution.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think this is a great idea. I have 5 cats at home, 3 of which are over weight. I think this would be a great way to help them lose weight while letting the younger two (one is under a yr old and the other is just about 2 yrs old) graze and eat as wanted/needed.They are at different stages in their eating and in their health, so this could just be the solution. Thank you so much for posting this.

  4. Mutuelle sante says:

    Thanks a ton it has been a wonderful help, now to make our cat lose weight is without a doubt simple with the help of your recommendation. Thanks

  5. Anonymous says:

    Love it!!!! I have a cat who, as a kitten, was taken from his mom at 5 or 6 weeks…too early. It is common for kittens weaned too young or bottle-fed to be overeaters. He will not stop eating, ever. My other cat just grazes. If I only feed small portions twice a day, the grazer passes it up, or doesn’t eat enough, and he loses weight. So I needed a solution too. (Mine was to put a bowl on top of the fridge because mu chubby overeater was a poor jumper LOL!) This is a great solution you have posted here!

  6. Kimberly K says:

    People need to calm down and read this more carefully, calmly, and rationally before jumping to the accusations and conclusions. Otherwise you’ll be missing the point of this. It is NOT negligent.

    What they are doing is feeding one cat (the overeater) on a schedule. He gets a daily allotment of food, and that’s what he gets, end of story.

    The other cats do not have diet regulation issues, so they have access to the food supply inside the cabinet.

    Putting the rest of the food inside the cabinet is not starving the overweight cat; it’s simply preventing him from constantly eating the other cats’ food.

    It is very common when you have multiple cats for them to eat each other’s food. If they don’t know when to stop eating, this can lead to weight issues.

    This solution is a clever way of guaranteeing that the overweight cat can’t “cheat” the diet he needs to be on. The other cats clearly know when to stop eating, so they get to access the food in the cabinet.

    Please read the comments and the article more carefully before making these shotgun accusations of negligence and abuse. Clearly the owners care about their pets quite a bit to go to these lengths to make sure that they are all happy, healthy, and fed just the right amount. Thank you.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I was curious to know the measurements of th whole for two reasons,help my fat cat and maybe build sethong like this for the litter box as I have two fiesty huskeys hehe

  8. Anonymous says:

    I doubt the cat draws the conclusion that its girth (or its ability to fit through the opening) is a function of its diet. I don’t care if your vet gave you the idea! Please realize that physicians don’t always give good advice, even to their human patients.

    I live in an area that has a nationally reputable vet med school–Virginia Tech’s college of veterinary medicine. My cats’ vets are graduates of this program and they advised that for weight loss, for starters simply gradually cut back on food. They informed me that cats are very efficient at conserving energy and are clever at adapting activity to reduced caloric intake. In other words, if you all of a sudden start feeding them less, they’ll simply become less active so as not to use many calories. In other words, unlike most of us humans on a diet, they’re not trying to lose weight when they eat less! And any vet worth their salt will tell you that starving a cat as way of losing weight is very dangerous.
    The cruel aspect of this is that your pet sees its food and cannot get to it. It feels powerless and does not see you as an ally, or as someone who they can trust to help them. Granted, you do give them food. But your pet also sees you as someone who deprives them of a need and this is not a good association for them to have of you. And an animal’s survival is based on instincts as well as on associations.
    But cruelty aside, I’d seriously consider this contraption–and the advice of your vet–gravely negligent. Please consider an alternative and safer weight loss regimen. And get a second medical opinion.
    And for all who say, “my cat just eats everything in front of them” I would say that since they eat everything that YOU put in front of them, just try putting a little less in front of them.

    • Anonymous says:

      You obviously have a limited understanding of the article. The cage is for the OTHER cats’ food, not the FAT cat’s food. The fat cat gets fed on a schedule, the other cats get their food from the cage. Duh.

      I bet you’ve never owned a pet in your life, let alone a cat. You probably couldn’t be trusted to read the instructions that come with the goldfish starter kits, lest you “set them free” down the toilet.

      I have a cat who will gorge until she’s sick, but since she’s smaller my other cat, this system wouldn’t work for her. I just have to watch them eat and take the food away before she can eat too much. It’s bloody tedious but there’s no other way to stop her eating until she’s sick. She still gets plenty of food and she’s neither fat nor underweight. But standing around isn’t practical and I can never leave dry food out because if she eats any of that, she’s sick as well.

      Strangely enough, they haven’t taken offence at me taking food away once they’re finished. They’re perfectly happy. It’s a wonder they haven’t dropped me as an ally or reported me to the SSPCA.

  9. Anonymous says:

    That is very unfair, how would you like to starve because you couldn’t fit through your door. Animal cruelty. Why can you not just put food out at meal times only and you cat will become more healthy that way rather then deprive. Poor thing.

  10. 31 Cats says:

    Oh, this is a scream. Fun comments. I’m trying to think of a variation on this for use with my blind cat. I have one former stray who pigs out. She’s not even a year and is getting a pot belly–just awful. Meanwhile, the blind cat, her sibling, sits on the side waiting for room at the food dish. The fat cat eats everything, and the blind cat just noses around the empty dish… very sad to see!
    But the blind cat is also a runt (born with no eyes, scrawny, etc.) so maybe a box like this would work; I want her to eat a lot more. Let fatty pine for the food, for pet(e)’s sake. It’d do her some good!
    I did a similar kind of thing for the litter box for the blind kitten; she couldn’t manage the big top-entry boxes in the basement for the other cats, so I put a tiny side door on a litter box upstairs for her. Why didn’t I think of that for food?
    By the way, the same kind of selective feeder concept is used for calves; it’s called a “creep feeder”. They get special high-nutrient food in feeders that “mom” can’t squeeze into.
    Good hack! Fun comments! Thanks!

  11. Nissan 4x4 says:

    How cute, good job on the construction dutchmen… i have enjoyed reading the feedback of your wifes blog, it reminds me of my kitty who sadly passed… she would only eat cat food if it was a matter of life and death.. she used to get first dibbs at the dogs food before we would give it to the dog..

  12. Auto 1 says:

    Very clever indeed… i enjoyed reading your blog and got a good laugh out of the feed back good stuff

  13. Lose Weight Quick says:

    Lol some great responses there my cat needs to lose weight all she does it eat sleep and gets patted.. she has certainly got the life

  14. D Fox says:

    I have a fat cat that never misses a meal and will eat the other cats (who is super picky and hardly eats a thing) food if left out. The result is an obese cat and a thin cat. The answer? Feed them higher quality food in 2 separate bowls. One cat eats behind the basement door- the other in front. after 15 minutes I pick up the bowls and open the door. Unfortunately though- the fat cat clears her plate- and the thin cat has just sniffed his food, and would like to “pick” at it over the next 2 hours- but I have to open the door- it’s mean to keep them locked up! Also, I play with them, and let the big one outside for safe playing. This helps! And I have to say… I can see why this would work… it does seem mean- but it also seems functional. I can imagine the thin cat eating at will while the fat cat eats her 2 meals. Thank you for rescuing animals! In fact, my fat cat is a rescue- I think the poor dear eats because her last owner would not feed her half the time. It’s like people that survived the great depression and you can’t stop them from stockpiling cans in the basement.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is so awesome – both the contraption and these comments. Kudos to Cass & Dutchman. Some people either don’t know how to read (yes, fat cat does eat; no, he doesn’t sit outside longingly) or never thought about what it takes to cater to multiple dietary needs and temperaments. Thanks for the idea – beats lockups in separate rooms!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Oh for god’s sake – some of you people are acting like cats are 100 year old humans! A cat is a cat is a cat, with a loving heart and the attention span of a two year old.

    These people are not caging cats and leaving them without food, nor are they leaving the chubby cat with no means throughout the entire day. Some cats will stop eating when they’re full – others don’t know any better and will eat until they barf. And for that matter, the chubby cat probably gives far less of a damn than anybody else does about what’s inside that cage – out of sight, out of mind.

    As the owner of a diabetic cat who has to have his eating limited all his life, I can safely say that these people are right on track. It’s much better to love them by helping them be healthy than it is to kill them with kindness (and possibly disease)!

  17. Anonymous says:

    All you haters,,, um they brought a stray into there house and are taking care of it. I dont think they will starve it. I am sure they are feeding the fat cat what it ‘SHOULD’ have while alouing the otheres to continue to eat as they have learned.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I have read the comments and while it is not right to let a cat remain overweight it is also not right to tease the cat either. That is what you’re doing by having this cage. I also think the vet who told you about it was on crack, because that is not right to do to a cat. I have three cats of my own, the one has recently put on some weight, but i would never build a cage. What you should do is spend more time playing with the cat so that it gets some exercise. It seems like you’re punishing the cat for your own mistakes. Maybe someone should build a cage and put your food in it so you can see how it feels.

  19. Racu says:

    For real, Prue! I think this is a marvelous idea and not in the least cruel. I have five cats and two (including a 20+ year old) pretty much can and should be able to munch anytime they want. One has to be fed separately because he’s not supposed to have dry kibble and one won’t eat the wet food. So a couple variations on this would solve a lot of problems and get Valentino out of my bathroom…which really is mean, because he doesn’t get enough exercise or sunlight! (Don’t worry, he doesn’t stay in there all the time). I figure the folks who knock an idea like this either have no cats or only have one and don’t really know much about cats or the dynamics of dealing with multiple cats. Added bonus of keeping my Golden out of the food!!

  20. prue says:

    Heavens, anon, can you READ? i suppose you can – so why don’t you try and read what cassandra explained before you condemn this?

    just to say it again: letting a cat be overweight is NOT animal-friendly.
    the chubby cat gets food at regular hours, but there are other cats who need to have food available ALL day long.
    how animal-friendly would it be (to the thin cat and the chubby one and the one who only eats according to her own schedule) to simply leave the food (meaning chubby eats it) or to have no food around (meaning “bad luck” for the others)?
    someone teach people to read and think before writing….

  21. Anonymous says:

    Why are there so many positive comments on this? It sounds really cruel… “You’ll get to eat when you can fit through that door”. Someone call the SPCA.

  22. Anonymous says:

    seriously people this is not cruel,not for a second.. this is doing cat owners a favor the world over!!! I have two cats who eat normally and one who eats anything in sight. she has become ridiculously large and I do not know what to do but this. you can’t exactly give a cat a personal training session everyday. I would like to see what the haters do in a multi cat household to get their one obese animal to lose weight. you guys are freakin ridiculous.

  23. Anonymous says:

    It KEEPS THE DOG out of the cat food!

    Thank you!

  24. Fruity Ana says:

    If you feel the cat’s health would benefit from a few ounces lost (the cat doesn’t look chunky to me), feeding him a diet that does not contain grains/carbs would be the best way to accomplish this. Remember, cats are obligate carnivores. They do not need rice, cereals, carrots, etc, for a “well balanced diet”.

    All adorable kitties, by the way!

  25. danya says:

    After reading some of the comments, just wanted to pop in and say that it is certainly not cruel. I think it’s a really smart way to meet the needs of a lot of cats, which is a hard thing to do! I am sure his ‘hurt feelings’ (heh) are assuaged by the love his obviously gets from you all!

  26. Marky says:

    I can’t imagine how some responders find this a “Mean” idea! How might Fat cat might feel seeing the food but having to eat a healthy portion???
    Anthropomorphize much?
    I think this is a great invention and I’m going to replicate it in my kitchen. We have a very slim cat who started life very sick and we helped back to health. We recently adopted an elderly neighbours very overweight cat when the man had to go into a care facility and could not take his pet. Our skinny boy had a very painful urethra blockage and eats quite expensive specialized food for this condition which fat boy gorges on and often vomits up.
    We need to leave a grazing bowl for small man to have and the dog would eat any cat food left down.
    This looks like a win win solution to assist obese one to slim down to a healthy size.

  27. Anonymous says:

    hmmm. How about getting feeding them the right food and the right about and playing with them? Cruel and idiotic.

  28. Michael Woo says:

    it looks like a ‘reban ayam’ la lol

    wonder the cat would enjoy being inside there..

  29. Anonymous says:

    If he got in, stuffed himself and couldn’t get out, you’d have to re-name him Pooh Bear.

  30. Anonymous says:

    this is the most hysterical thing ever! as i read the post and all the comments, i was laughing so loud i just about peed my pants!

  31. Anonymous says:

    I’d imagine they would let him out! They got the big feeder thing in there through the side which is hinged and velcroed, it seems the cat could get out the same way.

    And if they are feeding him 4 times a day, they might notice if he got stuck or something.

    Y’all should mellow out. Good on these people for adopting cats and caring enough to keep them healthy. Obese cats get diabetes and then you have to make them pee on sticks! Then they die early. Who the hell wants that?

  32. Jan says:

    Great idea and attractive implementation. Thanks for sharing it.

    There are a lot of crazy haters out there. All animals, including humans, are driven by instincts evolved (or granted by god) for a state of nature. These instincts are not necessarily beneficial in the context of civilization.

    We all come up with strategies for dealing with these undesirable instincts. The accusation that helping this cat with its instinct to overeat is a form of cruelty is difficult to understand. For example, most cats like to reproduce, but we limit that instinct radically. Also, most cats like to go outside, but that can be a very dangerous proposition in some places and so they are kept inside.

    Most people don’t find these to be cruel, even though they are both more radical constraints on a cat’s desire than giving one cat access to food that another cat can’t get to.

    It would be nice if the haters constrained their instinct to be cruel.

  33. ront says:

    what if the cat stuffed itself and became fat and couldnt get out?

  34. Dutchman says:

    cassandra’s husband here- the carpenter

    rest assured- vernon ignores this thing. he sniffed at it once, maybe… he is fed 4 times a day. he’s living a much better life than he was living on the freeway on-ramp that cassandra found him on as a kitten

    and if he really wanted in, he could do it- he’s got some girth on him and he is not shy about doors and such- I think he’s simply too sophisticated for such behavior.

    and the way we have the cart positioned in our kitchen it is not rolling anywhere

    thanks for all the concern, folks.

  35. cynthia says:

    I understand you’re trying to do the right thing for the chubby kitty and it’s obviously wonderful that you have him on a feeding schedule and that you’re taking care of the little guy! I tend to wonder how chubby kitty feels when he sees the food in the cage and can’t get to it to eat. That does seem to be a tad bit mean. You certainly know your household and your kitties needs better than I do but maybe, just maybe there’s a better solution? And then again, chubby kitty may not care if he can get to the food or not since you’re feeding him so well already!

    Again, kudos to you for being such a kind person and taking care of stray kitties and being such a good mom to your furkids as well! We need more like you!

  36. caterpillar says:

    The cart is the BEKVÄM. I have it, very sturdy and versatile!
    It only has wheels on two of its legs and you can block them, so no danger of kitty-rides!

  37. Wow that is really an awesome idea!!!

    Visit my blog,

  38. RobynR says:

    Cassandra, I think it’s brilliant, and thought so *before* I read your comment spelling it out for the foolish people who assumed that you’d be cruel enough to starve your poor poufy kitty into shape.

  39. cassandracomplex says:

    mean? goodness gracious!

    first, the vet suggested this system and we just modified it for space.. (the vet said some folks use a box, which we thought was too dark)

    as far as schedules go, i feed them 4 times a day! vern (chubby kitty) gets a measured amount of dry at 6 and 6. leela and vern also get wet food at 11 and 11. hannah doesn’t eat by anybody’s sched so she just watches as they eat. she turns up her nose at wet food (in case you think i’m mean for leaving her out).

    it’s not like we see vern hanging outside the cage pining away for the dry food! that would be mean.

    also, one of our girls is a senior with kidney probs and needs to gain as much weight as possible. when we adopted her she just sat in front of the fridge all day – literally. if she couldn’t graze as needed, we would never have all the snuggle time we have with her. (we also give her sub-cu fluids twice a week – which i think shows how much we care about her)

    so don’t be no haters! and please, i’m a hemophiliac liberal. animal love doesn’t have a political party!

  40. Ms. Pants says:

    It’s not mean to make sure the cat doesn’t overeat, but it IS mean to make sure the cat CANNOT eat because its overweight. I agree that the humans should just get off their own asses and measure the damn food out if it’s such an issue.

    However–the cat’s gonna find a way in there regardless. It will probably wreck the thing in the process, but that’s what you get when you stop feeding animals. Thing is, he’ll probably get in, eat all the food, and then not be able to get back out.

  41. Anonymous says:

    so in the meanwhile the cat starves until it can fit inside that box?

    how about feeding your cat less?

  42. Anonymous says:

    why is it mean to make sure a cat does not overeat? ridiculous. that is the kind of bleeding heart comment that so often goes for “animal love”.

    that is a cute and clever hack, and i bet the cats would not really mind a ride, either … :-D

  43. Anonymous says:

    I have to agree that this is a bit mean–the best thing to do is to get your cats on an eating schedule and portion their food. When the food is gone, they have to wait until the next feeding time. This works with our five cats and we do have one chubby cat, our beautiful Katie and she is adjusting and slimming down.

  44. Robj98168 says:

    Awww…poor chubby kitty don’t get no kibble and has to watch skinny kitty eat??? that is tooo mean!

  45. alyce says:

    Um, that’s mean.

    Instead of asking a cat to learn new behavior, why not change yours? Don’t allow “grazing”. Instead, put out a measured amount of cat food and remove bowls after feeding. Train yourself.

    • Anonymous says:

      you start off so “enlightened” sounding, but then you tell the owner not to allow the cat to be a cat. Healthy cats graze. If they were outdoors they wouldn’t get fat. This is the kindest solution, you sound mean to me.

    • Anonymous says:

      Healthy cats do not graze. Where the hell did you get that idea. They are hunters, they are not cows. Cows graze. Hunters work hard for their food and burn off the calories that they consume and have sparse meals. ANY VET WORTH THEIR SALT WOULD TEL YOU THIS. Also, they wouldn’t be eating such carb-dense foods like kibble in the wild! So no wonder cats get fat when they are free-fed dry food indoors all day.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I love it, but do you ever take the cat for a ride in it? I still see the wheels are still attached. Just imagine if the other cat got mad/jealous and pushed the cart around while the cat was trying to eat. I could see my boyfriend’s cat who is a miniature Jabba the Hutt grunting and pushing this thing around while the little cat eats.

  47. Anonymous says:

    What a great idea! It also stops the dog from eating the cat food.

  48. suscipe says:

    I think I need a feeder cage myself! Market a human size one!

  49. that is hilarious. slim cat gets to eat.
    nice cat house, too :)

  50. Melis says:

    That’s a great idea. I wonder if the fatter cat will develop some way of getting the food anyway. I’d imagine if the cat ran into the thing at full speed several times some of those kibbles would come flying out.

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