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, but 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.
Is your cat gaining weight? It might be time for a diet
Help your cat to lose weight safely with these tips
Obesity can have a host of negative consequences for your cat. Help your cat to regain its ideal weight with these tips.
Is your cat gaining weight? It might be time for a diet
Just like humans, it is possible for cats to put on too much weight. This is more common as cats get older and become less active, or if they spend all day indoors.
For many loving cat owners, it is hard to resist urgent “meows” and pleas for treats. Yet obesity is one of the greatest health risks to pets.
Overweight cats face a higher risk of health problems such as diabetes, arthritis, and cardiorespiratory disease – problems that could prevent them from enjoying a long and happy life. Luckily, there are things you can do to help your cat shed those unwanted pounds.
Check with your vet
Before putting your cat on a diet, it is important to consult with your veterinarian. Your vet can help you to select the right food, in the right amounts, and to monitor your cat’s progress.
It is especially important to avoid crash diets. Rapid weight loss can lead to a serious liver disorder called hepatic lipidosis, where too much fat becomes concentrated in the liver. Instead, aim for a gradual, steady decrease in weight. It can take as long as a year for a severely overweight cat to reach its ideal body condition.
Your veterinarian can draw up a weight loss plan that combines healthy food and the correct amount of exercise. Because it is hard to notice small weight changes in a cat you see every day, regular weighing is a good way to monitor progress. Regular visits to a vet for weigh-ins can help ensure that weight loss is taking place at the right pace.
The right diet
In order to stay healthy, cats need to eat foods that are high in proteins and low in carbohydrates. Some commercial “diet” cat food is actually low in protein and high in carbohydrates, which can cause cats to become ill. Make sure you check the ingredients to ensure your cat is getting all the protein it needs.
Most canned foods will have more proteins and lower carbs than dry foods, but it is also possible to find high-protein, low-carb dry food. If your cat continues to struggle with its weight, you might want to consider the benefits of moving them onto a specially formulated “light” cat food.
Light cat foods are less concentrated and have a lower calorie content. They allow you to feed your cat the same portion sizes as before, with fewer calories. However, it is important to ensure that any light food you use has all of the essential nutrients your cat needs. Special food products such as Royal Canin Diet Control for cats may be prescribed by vets to treat severe obesity cases.
Many cat owners prefer free feeding. This is a healthy way to eat for a cat that is “in shape”, but it is not helpful for weight loss. Instead, consider measuring out your cat’s meals. This allows you to keep track of exactly how many calories your cat is consuming.
It can be difficult to figure out exactly how much food to give. Calories are not always clearly labeled. In addition, the feeding guides given with most cat foods are not geared for cats on a diet. Once you have decided on a brand of food, have your vet calculate exactly how much of that particular food to feed your cat in order to achieve a slow and steady weight loss.
Another way to help with weight loss is to divide the food into smaller, more frequent meals. This will help your cat to feel less hungry throughout the day, and may also reduce begging. You can draw up a chart to keep track of how much, and when, you’re feeding.
If you have several cats, it’s also a good idea to feed your overweight cat separately. This will prevent them from stealing any leftovers.
Cut out the treats
We all love to spoil our cats with little treats now and then. But if your cat eats a lot of treats on top of their normal food, the extra calories will turn into fat. In addition, commercial cat treats are high in calories and low in nutrition, so they are not helpful when your cat is trying to lose weight.
A healthier treat for cats who are trying to lose weight is very small amounts of high-protein human foods, like tiny bits of cooked chicken, or a few scrambled eggs.
However, the best treatment for a cat on a diet is actually their own cat food. More of the same food may not sound like a treat to you or I, but your cat will see it as a welcome extra serving of food they already like. This is also a good way to eliminate excess calories. Simply set aside a small amount of your cat’s food to give them as treats throughout the day.
Whatever method you chose for reducing cat treats, make sure everyone in the family knows the rules. Cats can be very good at pretending they have not eaten in days.
Food is only a part of keeping your cat fit and healthy. Cats are naturally active, but once a cat is overweight, it will exercise less. This, in turn, makes losing weight even more difficult. It is important to encourage your cat to stay active.
One way you can do this is by having dedicated daily playtime each day. Spend time each day waving a ribbon on a stick, or throwing a toy mouse for your cat to chase. Buy or make climbing and scratching towers for your cat. This will make your cat’s environment more interesting and will encourage them to exercise.
Put some of your cat’s food into a special feeding ball. These are toys which the cat needs to play with in order to release the food inside. Or, you could place their food at the top of the stairs or on top of a climbing tower to keep them moving.
It might take some time, but the right diet and plenty of exercise will help your cat drop weight and get healthy. Without the extra pounds, your cat will feel better, live longer, and be more energetic.
More on Cat Care
When to Take a Cat to the Vet
Nutrition for Adult Cats
Why Cats Meow
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.