Obesity In Cats
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they have to eat meat. The diet of house cats has been altered to be more convenient and affordable so commercial cat foods often contain large amounts of grains, which may predispose them to weight gain.
Overweight cats are far more likely to develop osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes mellitus, respiratory problems and non-allergic skin conditions. To tell if Kitty is overweight, gently run your hands over his ribcage. If you have to press to get at the ribs, he may be heavier than he should be. Look at your cat’s waistline. His body should become more slender from the belly to hindquarters. A swinging pouch between your cat’s hind legs also indicates a weight problem.
A major factor responsible for feline obesity is the practice of “free feeding,” in which a bowl of dry food is available for the cat throughout the day. There should be distinct meal times of which the owner is in charge. Divide the cat’s targeted calorie intake into several small meals and just leave out for a limited amount of time. Also, limit the treats, as they are often high in calories.
The first step in helping your cat shed weight is to see a veterinarian first to rule out other issues. The vet can also help you formulate a sensible weight loss and exercise plan. The weight loss should be gradual over several months. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says a loss of about one pound per month is healthy.
Some vets recommend using canned food which typically has a higher protein and lower carbohydrate content than kibbles. Sometimes if the proportion of protein in the diet is increased, metabolism can be stimulated and cause weight loss. Since canned food is 90% water, this will also increase the cat’s fluid intake. Look at the label on cat food to make sure your cat is going to get the right nutrients for his life stage and that the top ingredients are meat, meat byproducts or seafood. You want to replace fat with protein and carbohydrates as fat is contributing the most calories.
Motivate your cat to move by adding more play time to the day. Interactive toys, like sticks with feathers at the end are good bets. Climbing apparatus and empty boxes may also interest your cat. Laser pointers that emit a pinpoint of light are good for owners who don’t want to move much themselves.
You love your cat and certainly want to keep him healthy so you both can enjoy life. It’s worth putting up with his mewling for a while when you change his diet. Keep in mind: a slimmer, fitter cat is a happier and longer-lived cat.