Cat Obesity: How to Help Your Cat Maintain a Healthy Weight
In our years of experience here at Cuyamaca Animal Hospital, we see that there’s a lot of talk about dog obesity in the pet industry and not as much about cats. And yet, cat obesity is just as important! In fact, cat obesity is on the rise, and a recent survey even found that almost 59% of cats across the country were overweight.
One of the reasons why there’s not enough attention given to cats when it comes to diet and lifestyle is that cats have the reputation of being domestic and sleepy. Many cats are certainly not as rambunctious as your average pup! But considering that October 14th is Pet Obesity Awareness, we thought this would be the perfect time to sit down and give you the scoop on ‘fat’ cats.
The Dangers of Feline Obesity
Another reason why not enough attention is given to fat cats is because, well, a few pounds is just so cute! However, even a few pounds over the ideal weight can pose health risks to your fur-baby. Consider this: if your cat is supposed to weigh 10 pounds but weighs 12, that means she’s already 20% over her optimal weight. And that’s similar to 30 pounds extra on a human.
Overweight or obese cats are vulnerable to more health conditions like:
Heart and respiratory disease
And most importantly, obese cats are generally suffering from a diminished quality of life. Your time with your pets is too short. If you have a chubby kitty, waste no time feeling guilty. That’s not what we’re here to do! Instead, we want to encourage you to act now.
Make Dietary Adjustments
The majority of cat parents free feed, leaving their cat’s food bowl full so that they can eat whenever they want throughout the day. And, just like humans, cats tend to eat more when they’re bored.
Controlling your cat’s portions is a good way to start the weight loss process. For dry food, we recommend feeding your cat a small amount of low-fat dry food twice daily (usually around ¼ a cup each time). Whatever you and your cat’s preference in kibble, remember to select low-fat foods that are low in carbohydrates (dry) or no carbohydrates (canned).
However, canned food is preferred. Here’s why: canned food has significantly fewer calories than the same volume of dry food. Additionally, it’s important to know that cats are meant to have high protein diets. Unlike wet food, most dry foods have far too many carbs and far too few proteins. Making the right choices for your cat will ensure that she can not only lose weight but also maintain that ideal weight that your veterinarian recommends.
Give Your Cat a Work-Out
As adorable as the idea of a cat in full workout gear is, we have to admit that it’s not all that feasible to get an obese cat on the treadmill. Still, there are many ways to get your cat to start moving again in a way that will help her achieve that healthy weight:
Laser light toys
Feather toys and wants
Any toys your kitty might chase (even if it’s a rolled up ball of crinkly paper!) especially interactive motorized toys.
Puzzle feeders and toys—you can put half of their dry food in a treat ball
Throw pieces of dry cat food across the room or down the hall to give your cat a chase
Consider purchasing a cat condo for climbing and put their cat food at different levels to encourage them
Try to get creative and keep things interesting for your kitty. Even a cardboard box can provide them with the stimulation they need! Wine corks and bottle tops are different ways you can get your kitty to run without breaking the bank. Just remember to never expose your cat to anything that she can choke on, like string, floss, rubber bands, hair ties, or anything she can swallow—not even if you think you’re keeping an eye out!
Despite all this information, we know that every cat is different, and every cat has their own needs. That’s what makes them special! If you don’t know what your cat’s ideal weight should be, give us a call at (619) 448-0707 so we can go over everything you need to know to keep your cat healthy and happy!