If you own a cat then you know the joy of making sure your little friend is happy, healthy, and well fed. Nothing feels better than curling up with your cuddly cat friend at the end of the day. But what if your soft, loving friend is getting a little too soft in the middle? For many cat owners today, their cat’s weight is a growing concern. How do you know when your cat is overweight? What are the risks if your tabby is too tubby? In this article we will explore smart ways to assess and manage cat weight.
How to Tell If Your Cat Is Overweight
Evaluating your cat’s weight can be done by doing a visual check and a body condition check. First, take a good look at your tabby. If you can see an indentation where their hips are, that is a sign that your cat is in the normal weight range. To do a body condition check, run your hands over your cat. You should be able to feel their ribs under a very small layer of fat. If you are unsure about your cat’s condition, a visit to your veterinarian will help you determine if your pet’s weight is in the normal range.
Risks for Overweight Cats
Just as humans experience complications from weight gain, so do our fur-ball friends. Complications for obese cats include breathing problems, diabetes, skin problems, joint aggravation, decreased immune function, and a shortened life span.
Putting Your Cat on a Diet
Before putting your cat on a diet it is a good idea to pay your veterinarian a visit so he or she can check that your cat’s weight gain is because of food and not because of an underlying medical condition. Your vet will also be able to help you put together a diet plan that will help your cat safely lose weight. It is key to remember that cats are carnivorous creatures and therefore require plenty of meat and protein in their diet. More than likely, your vet will recommend lowering your cat’s intake of carbohydrates and fat. Whatever diet plan you choose, remember that a cat should lose weight slowly over time, rather than quickly through drastic measures.
Increase Your Cat’s Activity
If your cat is an indoor cat, getting exercise will be more of a challenge. You will have to find creative ways to encourage your feline to move around and burn those calories. Installing a climbing structure, also called “cat condos,” will encourage your cat to climb, scratch, jump, and get some much-needed exercise. Cat climbing structures range from small and simple tree structures to elaborate towering edifices; you can choose the one that is right for your home. Another clever way to boost your cat’s activity level is to give them food in a cat foraging device. These devices are a simple ball or box that you put your cat’s food into, and then your cat works to figure out how to get the food. Cats generally enjoy working for their food; remember, they are natural hunters and predators out in the wild.
Play with Your Cat
Cats love chasing things. In the wild their diets consist of small mammals which they have to stalk, hunt, and chase. For playtime, enticing your cat with small, fast moving objects will provide hours of active fun. And it doesn’t have to be physically stressful for you. Blowing bubbles into the air may encourage your cat to chase, bat at the air and jump from place to place. Dangling a feather or mirror from a string will also entertain your cat and encourage physical activity. Rolling small balls or jingling toys will also provide a joyful game for your pet. Not only does playing with your cat result in energy-burning exercise, it also relieves stress.
Keeping our pets happy and healthy is a top priority for pet parents. Maintaining a healthy diet and increased activity level will keep your cat purring for years to come. Best of all, keeping your cat happy and healthy is a fun way to spend more time with your feline friend.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.
More on Cat Care
When to Take a Cat to the Vet
Nutrition for Adult Cats
Why Cats Meow