Your cat is adorable, with the exception of her bulging stomach, which appears to be dragging her down. Nearly 60% of cats in the US are obese, so your cat is not the only one with some additional “fluff.” But how can you put your cat on a diet?
That extra fluff may make a great Instagram photo, but it’s unhealthy for cats to be so heavy. If they seem to be struggling to climb, use the litter box, or play with toys, then they are definitely at risk for major health problems caused by their extra pounds.
The greatest strategy to help a cat lose weight is to help them consume fewer calories than they burn via activity, which will necessitate some adjustments to their everyday routine.
Make sure you and your cat are prepared before beginning a new feeding schedule and diet. Consult a vet before making extreme changes as well.
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Should Your Cat Lose Weight?
Any amount of weight gain reduces your cat’s level of well-being. It causes discomfort in your cat and lessens her willingness to move around, which can lead to even more weight gain. Additionally, overweight cats typically live shorter lives.
But weighing your cat isn’t the best technique to determine whether or not it needs to lose weight. Rather, evaluate your cat’s physical health and keep an eye out for these signs:
- Is your cat’s waist visible? When you are both standing, take a look at your cat. There is a little depression between the ribs and the hips in a healthy cat’s body.
- Can you feel the ribs in your cat? Along the sides of your cat’s chest, gently push. You ought to be able to feel your cat’s ribs at a healthy body weight.
- Does the tummy of your cat droop? Check your cat’s profile while it is standing. As it reaches the hips, the abdomen should be tight, flat, and slightly elevated. Cats who are overweight have rounded abdomens without any upward arching.
- Does your cat struggle to clean itself? Morbidly obese cats might have difficulty reaching their backsides with their tongue. If you find yourself cleaning your cat instead of your cat cleaning itself, it might be time to make dietary changes.
Ask your veterinarian for guidance in estimating your cat’s appropriate weight if his body shape suggests he is overweight.
How to Start Your Cat on a Weight Loss Program
There are a few things you can do if your cat has already gained too much weight.
Consult With Your Veterinarian
Schedule an appointment with your vet before attempting to reduce your cat’s body weight.
Every cat is unique in its physiology and demands, so even tiny adjustments to your cat’s diet, food intake, or feeding schedule can significantly impact it— positively or negatively.
The greatest source of advice for creating a safe, individualized weight loss strategy for your pet is your veterinarian.
Find Out How Much Weight Your Cat Needs to Lose
You must establish the amount of weight your cat needs to shed before beginning a weight-loss program. According to the APOP, a typical domestic cat should weigh between 8 and 10 pounds.
However, the appropriate body weight for your cat should still be discussed with your veterinarian because other variables like breed and age also come into play.
It’s unnecessary to weigh your cat to determine its size and state of health. You or your veterinarian can examine your cat, who can then provide a bodily condition rating. An optimal score for a cat is 3 out of 5 on the body condition scale.
Take Your Cat’s New Diet Slowly at First (2 to 3 Weeks)
Make a strategy for adjusting your cat’s diet before attempting to reduce its weight. Then, gradually switch from their current food and activity routine to the new plan.
Your cat will reject any rapid changes since many cat owners overfeed their pets and don’t give them adequate exercise. Change their feeding habits gradually as you transition from the existing ones (meal kind, volume, frequency, etc.).
For instance, you should give them at least two weeks to adjust while changing their diet. The ratio between the two foods can be progressively changed by combining them, starting with predominantly the new food.
This aids in acclimating your cat to the shift, and you can also keep track of any negative reactions they may have to the new diet.
Combine Exercise and a Weight-Loss Diet for Your Cat
While food is an important factor, exercise boosts your cat’s energy levels while also helping to burn calories and fat. Therefore, think of ways to increase your cat’s everyday activity.
For instance, spending more time playing with your cat (bringing out the toys or the laser pointers) can get your cat to become more active and hasten the results of your cat’s diet.
Do Not Hasten the Weight Loss Process
Finally, exercise patience. Your cat could become ill if you abruptly reduce food intake or increase physical activity. For instance, cats who skip meals for two days or more risk developing fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis).
This syndrome progresses to liver failure if left untreated. If you arrange a comprehensive health assessment with your veterinarian and develop a sound weight-reduction plan, you can avoid this potentially deadly disease.
Weight reduction takes time, just like weight gain does. You should base your expectations on the fact that a cat may safely lose between 0.5 and 2% of their body weight per week. A general timeframe should be provided by your vet as well.
How to Stop Feeding Cat Extra Meals?
Here are a few things to consider the next time you think of feeding your cat an extra meal:
Domestic Cats Still Enjoy a Wild Appetite
Cats have a lower daily caloric requirement when their food is supplied than they would if they had to hunt, capture, and eat their food to survive.
Cats’ activity levels and metabolic rate significantly decline with age, but their hunger remains unaffected. With time, this makes it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
Your Cat May Have Trained You to Treat It
Eating serves as a form of training between the cat and the feeder. Cats frequently focus on the actions and behaviors that serve as a lead-up to feeding them and attempt to influence the feeder to partake in them.
Feeding the cats as quickly as you step out of bed in the morning is an excellent scenario. The cats frequently attempt to wake up their owners so they may feed them sooner and earlier each morning.
Another illustration is the cat, who enters the kitchen whenever the refrigerator opens because it knows you keep the canned food inside.
A Hungry Cat is an Active Cat
Another thing to remember is that a hungry cat is an active cat.
Frequently looking for food, stalking or being irritable with the other cats (who it accuses of eating the food that isn’t there), annoying the occupants of the house, or acting destructively in other ways can be a sign that they are training owners to feed it to stop the negative behavior.
Although being occupied helps the cat be more active and burn calories, the other household members frequently don’t like the cat’s line of work.
In response to these actions, a cat is fed, encouraging the cat to continue acting this way. Allowing a cat to be hungry without reinforcing the related behaviors is one of the most difficult things to accomplish.
Deciding Between Canned Food or Dry Food
Generally speaking, cats don’t require a variety of tastes and textures. When a cat hesitates to eat what is offered, they become quite adept at teaching its owners to add something different to the meal.
The cat may decide not to eat what is presented if the cat is otherwise performing normally, or the cat may be testing the waters to see if anything better may appear. Very few cats ever require any prodding to eat. Often, the purpose is the exact opposite.
Canned Food is the Healthiest Option
For several reasons, canned food is preferable to dry food. However, feeding it is also more costly and messy.
Cats outdoors do not have a significant desire to drink separately from eating since they are fresh-kill hunters and ingest the majority of their water together with fresh food.
Most cats on dry food don’t drink enough water, which stresses their kidneys and causes their urine to be too concentrated. The moisture content of their prey in the wild is mimicked by canned food.
This promotes more diluted urine, which is less likely to cause bladder and kidney problems eventually.
Since dry food cannot be made without flour, canned food tends to be richer in protein and lower in carbs than dry food.
Some claim that diets high in protein and low in carbohydrates are less likely to result in obesity in cats. However, feeding experiments have shown that total calories ingested are what matters most.
When trying to control the number of calories ingested each day precisely, pate-style kinds are often higher in calories per can than the types that more closely mimic human meals with pieces and gravies.
Dry Food: A Cheap but Unhealthy Alternative
Dry food is quite high in calories. It doesn’t include any water, which would add volume to the dish.
As a result of the lesser volume supplied when feeding only dry food, your cat will likely be more hungry even if it is getting an acceptable amount of calories. So, even a low-calorie variety of free-choice dry food won’t stop weight gain.
How to Manage Your Cat’s Weight While Feeding Dry Food
Dividing the dry food into many tiny, regulated quantities throughout the day is best. The cat will never feel full or famished.
Most cats will get too hungry if their dry food intake is reduced below 1/3 to 1/2 cup per 24-hour period, even if they consume enough calories.
The precise quantity each cat will require may vary depending on the individual cat and will likely fluctuate (reduce) as the animal ages.
To help cats feel fuller, you may bulk up the diet with canned green beans.
Since vegetables elevate the pH of the urine, which predisposes them to crystal formation, this should never be given to cats with a history of urinary tract crystals or FLUTD.
Don’t Feed Your Cat Both Canned and Dry Food
Feeding canned and dry food simultaneously is the quickest method to develop and maintain an overweight cat. Most cats will happily eat canned food supplied, even if they have just finished their dry food (or vice versa).
It is challenging to control the portion sizes of each meal type so that the cat consumes the right quantity of calories.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do cats beg for food when they have food in their bowl?
Some cats might merely want to see if you respond to their behavior, while other cats might not want to eat food from a bowl. Cat whiskers are very sensitive, so make sure the place for their food is big enough for their face to fit in comfortably. Some cats do better eating from a plate.
Should cat bowls be elevated?
It depends on the cat. Most cats crouch when they eat since, in the wild, they would crouch and eat their kill. But if your cat has arthritis or other problems with joints, it can be better to elevate their dish slightly.
Should cat food and water bowls be separated?
Cats like clean water that isn’t contaminated with their food. Keep your cat’s water constantly refreshed and in a different location than where you keep its food.
Round Fat Cats Need to Go on a Diet
It can be difficult to help your cat lose weight (especially because they don’t want to), but a little persistence goes a long way. With a regular routine and a little love, your cat will probably adjust to its weight loss regimen in a matter of a few weeks. Just make sure to change whatever unhealthy habits that contributed to their weight gain.
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You can learn more about cats’ diets by watching “What is the Best DIET for a CAT? 🐱🍗 Feline Nutritional Needs” down below: