An obese cat is not a happy or healthy cat. Unfortunately in cats the consequences of obesity are harder to observe as compared to the canine companions. However over time, their reduced mobility, sluggish movements and increased risk of health issues make obesity a significant concern for cat owners. If your feline friend is struggling with obesity, it is crucial to take proactive steps to help them shed those extra pounds and regain their vitality. Read on to understand the causes of cat obesity, how to determine if your cat is overweight, and practical steps for effective cat weight management.
Obesity in cats occurs when they consistently consume more calories than they need. Several factors can contribute to cat obesity, including overfeeding, inactivity, whether they have been sterilized, lifestyle, breed, age and genetics. Recognizing these factors and addressing them is essential for successful cat weight management.
Before you can help your cat lose weight, you need to determine if they are, indeed, overweight. You can do this at home without the need for a scale. Here is how:
If you cannot feel your cat's ribs or see their waistline, then your cat is probably overweight. However, for a precise assessment and to determine their ideal weight, consult your veterinarian for a thorough wellness check.
Once you have confirmed that your cat is overweight, it is time to work on a cat weight management plan. Remember the mantra: "High protein, low carbohydrates, more physical activity, more mental stimulation."
Nutrition plays a vital role in cat weight management. Consult your vet before making any changes to your cat's meal plan, as drastic changes can lead to health issues. Drastic changes in the diet, in particular, can be harmful to cats, potentially triggering liver disease. Your veterinarian may recommend a therapeutic food specially formulated for weight loss. These foods are typically high in animal protein and fibre, lower in carbohydrates and fats. Thus designed to ensure your cat gets nutrients that are closest to its natural needs and also provide a sense of fullness for longer duration.
Additionally, it is crucial to reduce or eliminate unnecessary calories from treats and table scraps. Your cat will appreciate the extra attention, cuddles, and playtime instead.
Cats are known for their sedentary nature, but it is essential to get them moving, especially if they are overweight. You can become your cat's personal trainer by engaging them in activities such as playing with small toys they can chase or self-play toys, or as simple as even crumpling up a piece of paper for them to pounce on. Variety and rotation in toys is key to keep them interested and active.
Consider incorporating exercise into their feeding routine by using puzzle feeding boxes. These keep your cat mentally engaged and it’s mind off wanting to constantly eat.
To maintain your cat's ideal weight once they have reached it, establish a regular feeding schedule. Most cats prefer smaller, more frequent meals in day, such as about 4 to 5 meals in a day. Observe your cat's eating habits and adjust their meal practices accordingly. It is important that all members in the household avoid deviating from this feeding routine and avoid giving in every time your cat begs for food. While your cat may resist these changes initially, they will ultimately benefit from a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Avoid rewarding good behaviour or food-begging with treats and instead opt for playtime, toys or petting, as per their preferences.
In conclusion, helping your obese cat lose weight is not only about their appearance but also their overall health and well-being. By working closely with your veterinarian, providing a diet that respects their carnivorous nature, encouraging regular exercise, and maintaining a consistent feeding schedule, you can help your beloved feline friend achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The effort you invest in their weight management will lead to a happier, more active, and longer-lasting companionship, ensuring your cat enjoys the best possible quality of life.