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Does your cat spend the whole day lying on your couch and scratching at the litter box? If he does, you should seriously consider changing his lifestyle with a weight loss plan. More than 50 percent of cats in the United States suffer from obesity. If your cat has more than 20 percent body fat, then he is classified as overweight. There is a rule of thumb to determine whether or not your cat is overweight. His waistline should be noticeable between the hips and the back of the ribs. If there is an abdominal tuck or no noticeable waistline, then your cat is most probably obese. What can you do as a pet parent to help your cat shed those extra pounds?
- Proper diet – Avoid feeding your feline friends pet foods that have a high carbohydrate content. Check the quantity of ingredients like peas, grains and potatoes. If it is in the neighborhood of 4-5 %, then you can go ahead with it. Since cats are obligate carnivores, their bodies can no longer synthesize amino acids and vitamins. Their diet needs to have meat source that includes muscle meat and not byproducts like spleen, lungs or kidneys. Also, avoid a fiber rich diet as it can make your cat feel temporarily full, but end up blocking the absorption of nutrients in their small intestine. Consequently, your cat will feel hungrier, eat more, and gain more weight.
- Exercise – Physical activity reduces appetite, burns calories and changes the body structure. Regular exercise can also lead to an uptick in the metabolic rate. Just turn the bathtub into a hockey rink by placing a ball in it. Your cat will chase after it and it will provide him plenty of physical activity. Of course, you can always let him play outdoors as long as the environment is safe.
- Regular weigh-ins – Monitor your cat's weight on a monthly basis so that the vet has a good idea of his health. Recognizing weight gain in pets can prove to be difficult. If you are concerned that your cat is gaining weight, then schedule weigh-ins at the same time of the day on the same weighing scale.
- Cat toys – A climbing tower or scratching post make for excellent exercise options. Offer your cat a number of scratch-friendly options, like vertical and horizontal scratching toys, sisal ripe, cardboard, carpet and wood. Cats tend to get bored with toys quite easily So, you should keep rotating them once every two weeks to keep them interested.
- Spay/neuter – Neutering or spaying your cat ensures that he/she will live a long and healthy life. Female cats are no longer at risk for u terine or mammary cancer and male cats are no longer at risk for prostate or testicular cancer. Neutered and spayed cats also need fewer calories to maintain their weight. Therefore, they are healthier than their intact feline counterparts.