How to Put a Cat On a Diet

Just a few years ago, when you heard the term “fat cat,” you probably thought about wealthy individuals or rich political donors. Now, when people hear that term, they think of a cat that is obese.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, approximately 60 percent of the cats in the United States are either obese or overweight. Although they make funny YouTube videos, obese cats are unhealthy.

An obese cat has more than 20 percent of body fat. When you view an obese cat from above, they have no waistline or no abdominal tuck. The ideal weight of a cat varies based on its breed, gender, bone structure, and lifestyle. Most healthy cats weigh between seven and 11 pounds.

The Health Implications of Obesity in Cats

Obesity poses some of the same risks for cats that it does for humans. Obese cats battle with mental strain, cardiovascular health issues, and other lifestyle altering risks. Obesity can negatively affect your cat’s quality of life and life expectancy.

An obese cat finds it hard to play and move around. Checkups and surgical procedures performed on obese cats are difficult and can have serious complications. Between 80 to 90 percent of obese cats have diabetes and need diabetic cat food. Many require daily insulin injections.

Obese cats are less active, urinate less, and drink less water than their healthy counterparts. Their immune system is easily compromised. This makes them prone to infections, including urinary infections and stones.

A cat that has put on extra weight may find it difficult to groom themselves. This can cause skin problems. The extra weight an obese cat carries puts pressure on their joints, affecting their movement and possibly leading to arthritis.

With the right diet, exercise routine, and behavior modification, you can protect your cat from the risks of being overweight or obese. How can you put your cat on a diet? Here are a few suggestions.

How Can I Put My Cat on a Diet?

As the owner of an obese cat, you have to recognize that you are responsible for your cat’s obesity. Your cat has no idea how much he or she weighs or what food they should or should not be eating. House cats will eat whatever you put in front of them.

Before putting your cat on a diet, talk to your veterinarian to rule out other issues that could cause your cat’s obesity. The vet will help you create a sensible weight loss and exercise plan. What the vet cannot do is stop you from wanting to reward your cat with treats or give him more food to stop the meowing.

According to Pet Nutritional Alliance, a healthy indoor cat weighing between seven pounds and 10 pounds will need between 168 cal and 210 cal each day. This includes the treats that you give them.

Some basic steps you can take to limit your cat’s caloric intake include:

  • Measuring out the food. Divide the cat’s target intake into four to six small meals.
  • Keep a full bowl of water.
  • Only leave cat food out for a predetermined amount of time.
  • Work with your vet to set a weight loss goal.
  • Be sparing with treats. If you cannot resist the urge, give your cat a few pieces of their dry food.
  • Don’t give your cat human food. It makes them fat and can upset their stomach.
  • Keep your cat away from other pet food. Other pet food has been designed specifically for that animal and may not be best for your cat.

What Is the Best Diet for My Cat?

According to the Treehouse Humane Society, the best diet for your cat is one that mimics what they would eat if they were in the wild. This means a diet that’s full of meat and moisture.

Cats are carnivores, so their diet needs to have a heavy supply of protein. It is recommended that your cat’s diet consists of primarily canned foods. Cats do not drink as much water as other animals and rely on their diets to provide moisture.

Canned foods are full of moisture, have fewer carbohydrates, can help prevent cat diabetes, and minimize cases of obesity. Contrary to what was previously believed, canned foods have not been shown to increase cases of oral health conditions in cats.

How Often Should I Be Feeding My Cat?

Discussing the subject, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine recommends that you take your cat’s health, age, and preference into consideration.

Age Considerations

Kittens need more food per pound of body weight than an adult cat. A kitten up to six months of age may need three meals each day. From age six months on, most cats only need to be fed twice a day.

Some adult cats do well with being fed just once a day. Senior cats, those age seven and older, should maintain the same feeding cycle as younger adult cats. The only reason to alter their schedule would be if there was evidence of disease or another health issue.

Health Factors to Consider

If your cat has diabetes, then you will need to feed him based on when you administer insulin. Cats with hyperthyroidism always want to eat. However, once the condition is treated, the cat’s appetite should return to normal.

Your Cat’s Preferred Food Type

As a cat owner, you know just how picky cats can be. If they refuse to eat canned food, you might give them dry food mixed with a little bit of water. Provide a new source of food each day.

If your cat is persnickety when it comes to food, switch their food occasionally. This will prevent them from becoming hooked on just one type of food.

You should take your own schedule into consideration when determining when to feed your cat. Be vigilant in multi-cat households to make sure that one cat is not dominating the food and leaving little or none for the other cats. You may need to come up with a plan where you feed cats at separate times or in different parts of the house.

What Should I Do If the Diet Is Not Working?

If your cat is not losing weight on the diet, you are probably still feeding it too much. Most medical problems do not cause cats to retain weight. Like humans, your cat needs to consume fewer calories than they are expending in order to lose weight.

You need to get your cat moving, especially if your cat does not go outdoors. Interactive toys like balls, sticks with feathers, and empty boxes might interest your cat enough to get it moving. If you do not want to get up off the couch, think about purchasing a laser pointer that emits a pinpoint of light that is sure to capture the attention of your cat.

One of the biggest challenges in getting your cat to slim down is to get a lazy cat into the habit of engaging in physical activity. Physical inactivity is something that your cat learns from an early age. So start your kitten moving as soon as you bring it home.

Your Cat Is a Good Friend, so Treat It like One

In addition to being fluffy, entertaining, and wildly independent, there is scientific proof that your cat can improve your health. According to the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology, your cat can lower your stress levels, minimizing your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and stroke by up to 30%.

Your cat’s health is in your hands. Obese cats have a lower quality of life and die sooner than their thinner counterparts. Your house cat will eat whatever you put in front of it, so choose a diet that is suited for carnivores but that is administered in controlled amounts.

Your kitten is going to need more food than an adult cat, so feed it accordingly. Since it is only one factor, you need to get your cat moving around to help it lose weight. Following these simple recommendations can go a long way in keeping your cat healthy and happy.

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