2018 is the year you get your cat in shape.
It’s time you did something about your cat’s weight. Being overweight causes myriad health issues for him, most of which are preventable. Extra weight overworks his joints, it makes breathing difficult, and it can restrict his ability to move around. Obese cats have a reduced life expectancy relative to healthy weight cats.
Maybe you’ve tried and failed to help your cat lose weight. It can be an undertaking. Vetted PetCare vets want you to make 2018 the year your cat’s weight loss plan finally sticks; healthy weight cats are happier cats.
Know Your Goal
Healthy adult cats aren’t very big. With the exception of particularly heavy-framed cats like Maine Coons, male cats should weigh around 9-12 pounds and female cats around 7-10 pounds. Any cat that weighs 20% more than they’re supposed to is technically considered “obese.”
Start with Food
Food is by far and away the biggest cause of cat obesity. Changing your cat’s diet can have nearly immediate effects on his weight. The most common feeding issues include:
- Feeding cats the wrong kind of food
- Feeding cats too much food
- Feeding cats too often
The Right Food
The right food for your cat is one that’s balanced in fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. In general, looking for foods with the AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) seal is a good place start.
Understand that though they’re different, wet and dry foods each have their own unique benefits. Dry food is better for dental health, for example, and wet food is better for cats with kidney disease. Talk to your veterinarian about which ingredients your cat should be eating, specifically.
Timing Your Cat’s Feedings
Most vets recommend cats eat twice a day: once in the morning and once at night. Cats who “graze,” or eat dry food left out all day are more likely to be overweight than those that don’t. Try to time your cat’s feedings for the same time each day.
Measure out your cat’s food (guidelines can be found on the side of your food bag/can) using a measuring cup every time. It can be hard to tell when you’re accidentally feeding him 10 or even 20% more than you need to be! Don’t forget to read the nutritional information on your cat’s treats, too. And remember that you may need to adjust your cat’s food intake over time!
Keeping Your Cat Active
Although food is a huge contributor to weight gain, inactivity can also be a big problem. Indoor cats are at particular risk of obesity due to lack of exercise. It’s your job to ensure your cat gets plenty of physical activity at home. Incorporate a few favorite cat toys into your morning and evening routine, and consider investing in a cat tree where your cat can roam when you’re away. If he’s amenable, you can even try to walk your cat on a leash!
The more overweight your cat already is, the more uphill battle your weight loss journey will be. Overweight cats don’t want to exercise, and they’ll probably seem “hungrier” than healthy weight cats, too. It’s important to implement any weight loss strategies incrementally, and to work closely with your vet. Above all else, stay consistent! Results don’t happen overnight, but once your overweight pet starts to lose weight, the changes in his behavior and comfort level will amaze you.
Before you start any weight loss program for your cat, consult with his veterinarian. Your vet can help you come up with a plan and get some baseline measurements so you can monitor your progress. It’s also important to note that some cats – like those with thyroid disease – have different dietary needs than others. Your vet can help you sort it all out.
Need a vet to help get your cat on track?