An overweight cat can have some serious problems. Their lifespan can be seriously shortened, they can injure themselves when jumping up or down (due to the extra strain on their joints and ligaments), they can have high blood pressure which, just like in a human, can cause strokes and heart disease, and they can even develop the feline form of diabetes. Not only this, but a fat cat won’t be able to run, play, or enjoy their life as much as a slimmer cat would. So it’s important to help your cat lose weight if he or she needs to. Here are some tips on how to do it.
A calorie controlled diet is one of the easiest ways to ensure that your feline friend loses weight. Everyone – cats included – has an optimum amount of calories that they should consume during the day. Men should have more than women (in general), and humans should have more than cats; cats ideally should consume 240 calories per day1. If your cat is currently eating more calories than is good for them, their bodies won’t be able to deal with them, and those extra calories will become fat. There is a simple formula to work out how many calories your cat should be consuming – just take his or her weight (in kilograms) and multiply it by 30. Once you know that answer, add 70. Finally, multiply this by 0.8. If you cat eats fewer calories than the number you come up with, they will lose weight. For safe weight loss, you can reduce your pet’s calorie intake by 15 percent.
Make It A Game
Keep some of your cat’s dry food in his or her bowl, and put the remainder in a toy that doubles as a food dispenser. This will make your cat eat much more slowly because they will only be able to get to one biscuit at a time, plus it will help them to lose weight because they will be running around more, and working to get their food. So that’s less food and more exercise all in one activity – ideal. You can also ‘hide’ your cat’s dry food around the house so that he or she has to go and hunt for it. This will remind a rather sedentary cat of the fun of the hunt, give them even more exercise, and again you can reduce the amount of food they are eating.
Play time is also important even when food isn’t involved2. It helps you and your cat to bond, it’s fun, it keeps your pet healthy, and it reduces stress for you. So find the time to spend 10 minutes or so a day enjoying a good game with your feline. Laser pointers are great fun, for example, and watching your cat chase the light and try to catch it is always amusing.
If you add water to your cat’s food you will help to keep him or her hydrated, and it will help to fill them up more as the food will tend to expand. This works best with dry cat food, but you can do it with wet food too if you mix it all together.
Less And More
How many times a day do you feed your cat? If it is two or maybe three larger meals, you might be doing more harm than good. Cats prefer to eat smaller meals but they like them more often3, with the optimum amount of smaller meals being seven for a fully grown cat. Splitting up the meals means that your cat won’t gorge itself and overeat because he or she is extremely hungry. If they eat more often they will only eat what they need, regulating their own diet.
Less Dry Food
Most of the calories your cat ingests is found in their dry food, so it’s a good idea to reduce how much of that they eat and swap it for wet food where possible. This is because dry food only has a very small amount of water in it, whereas wet food is mostly (perhaps as much as 80 percent) water4. There is a lot more room for calories in dry food in that case! One extra meal of biscuits can make a huge amount of difference when it comes to the health of your cat and how many calories they can take.
Upgrade To Automatic
If you are out during the day and you want to change your cat’s routine to incorporate the idea of having more meals, then an automatic cat feeder might be the ideal solution. This will measure out the seven meals that are required and your cat will become used to the sound of it opening. This way your working hours won’t have to dictate when your cat can eat, and that can help them a lot.
Adding human-grade, lean meat to your cat’s diet can help them as well. Meat alone is a bad idea – your cat won’t get all the nutrients he or she needs from that – but meat mixed with their other food can actually help them to eat more healthily and have a more balanced diet. It’s good for their teeth, too, and helps their metabolism to stabilise5. Try to avoid mince and ‘pet meat’ (this tends to be full of preservatives). Buying a raw chicken neck will give your cat something to chew on and will last for a long time too.
Try Diet Food
Finally, try giving your cat diet food instead of regular. This is especially helpful if your cat continually pesters you for a bowl of food, and never seems to feel full. With diet food at least you can be sure they are reducing their calories intake somehow. This may need to be purchased from your vet, and it’s a good idea to find out more about the food, and the ways in which it can help, from the expert when you go to buy it.