Have you noticed that your cat has gained a few pounds? Or maybe your cat has been overweight for a while? It might be time to consider putting your cat on a diet. After realizing my cat Rajah was overweight a few years ago I knew I had to do something.
While you may think an extra pound here or there isn’t a big deal, excess weight can compromise a cat’s health. It puts them at greater risk for a range of health problems including:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Heart disease
- Urinary bladder stones
- Anesthetic complications
- Hepatic lipidosis
- Skin problems
- Difficulty fighting infectious diseases
I have put together a few simple tips that I did that helped my cat lose 5 pounds in 2 years! If you follow these slowly but surely you will see the pounds shed and your cat will be much happier and healthier than before.
Measure Your Cat’s Food
If you’re in the habit of feeding your overweight cat however much food they seem to need, or worse yet, leaving food out all the time, it’s time to start measuring your cat’s food. Guesswork is a big no-no when it comes to how much food you should feed your cat, and cats will almost always overeat when they have unlimited, easy access to food.
To feed your cat properly, you will need to know how much food is ideal to give them in the first place. The best way to determine this is to ask your veterinarian. They will be able to determine the appropriate amount of food for your cat based on factors such as their health, weight, reproductive status, activity level, and so on.
Increase Meal Frequency
So meals are better than free-feeding, but many well-meaning cat owners only offer their cats food twice a day. While it may be convenient, this feeding schedule makes it more likely that cats will overeat and feel hungrier later on.
So what is the alternative? Feeding multiple small meals throughout the day. By breaking their daily ration into small portions, you can help your cat to lose weight and reduce begging between meals. If you don’t have the time nor capacity to manually give them portioned meals throughout the day, consider buying an electronic cat feeder. Look for one that allows you to configure it to automatically dispense predetermined amounts of food throughout the day.
Switch to a Wet Food Only Diet
Canned cat foods have a much higher moisture content than do dry foods. The extra water has the same effect as drinking a large glass of water before a meal does for us. Cats eating wet food will feel full faster and stop eating sooner, which helps with weight loss.
Quality canned cat foods are also higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than are equivalent dry foods. This better matches a cat’s nutritional needs and will also help with weight management. There are a bunch of great wet food options you can choose from but what worked for me was the Tiki Cat wet food. They have a variety of flavors and types including Pates, Gravys and Broths.
Reduce the Amount of Treats You Give
Is your go-to reward for your cat’s good behavior a tasty treat? While a small treat here or there may seem innocuous enough, the calories can really add up.
That is why you should only give treats in moderation; for weight loss they should only represent 5% or less of your cat’s daily food intake. And be sure to tell your veterinarian about the treats you give so the extra calories can be included when they calculate how much cat food you can offer each day.