No More Fat Cats, Please
Take a look at your cat. Be honest. Is she/he overweight? Maybe even slip the word obese into that thought?
We wouldn’t be surprised at all if you admitted that your cat looks a wee bit on the chunky side. According to reports, overweight and obese cats outnumber cats of normal weight. The extra fat can cause several health problems, including diabetes.
But what to do?
Keep this in mind: any mammal (that includes humans, cats, dogs, etc.) will gain weight if it eats more calories than it burns as fuel for energy.
Humans can control how much and what our pets eat. Yes-WE have control over this, but must be disciplined.
Any cat that is overweight should be seen by a vet and a weight loss plan discussed and put into place asap. It’s important that this process of losing weight is gradual for the cat, though. Do NOT give it a crash diet as it can be dangerous to the cat’s health.
FREE CHOICE FEEDING
This method of feeding your cat is likely the main cause of obesity. Too much food is set out for the day as people tend to dump a bunch into a bowl and walk away. Experiment with feeding the recommended amount listed on the food package (bag, can, whatever). You may need to adjust that amount, too – usually to LESS.
Next, feed your cat two meals a day, preferably morning and night. In other words, whatever the recommended amount is for one day, or what the veterinarian instructs, divide that into two separate meals instead of one feeding. Think of cat food in ounces, not cups. And if you can divide feedings into even less… like 3 or 4 times a day, that’s great! Cats are nibblers and prefer to eat several small meals a day.
I won’t push the debate over DRY vs. CANNED (wet) food and which type you should choose. Personally, I use BOTH. And I do not want to claim a “favorite” brand as even that causes debate. I’ve even changed brands many times because my cats start disliking a brand and I need to switch to something different. Here are some thoughts to consider…
Dry pet food is loaded with carbohydrates. A cat is a carnivore and doesn’t need all those carbs so in turn can more easily gain weight on dry food.
Most dry cat foods are low in protein… especially if corn is one of the first major ingredients. Protein is THE key nutrient in a healthy weight carnivore diet.
>>Dry food is more convenient, too. No spoiling or drying up during the day like wet food will do. And when I say, “during the day”, I’m still referring to a specific measured amount of food that she will either gobble up in the morning or nibble on throughout the day.
Stop feeding treats to fat cats. If you do give your fat cat treats, keep it to 2 – 4 a day in between the other meals. That’s it!
Increase kitty’s calorie burning activities. Add interactive toys to the cat’s environment. Get another cat so the two can play with each other. Buy a cat harness and leash to safely walk her. Spend 15 minutes zipping a feather toy through the air and have her chase it.
WHAT ABOUT DRY FOOD TO HELP CLEAN THE TEETH?
Do not worry about the teeth needing dry, crunchy food to help remove tartar. Cats fed soft, meat-based food have fewer teeth and gum problems than cats eating all dry diets! (according to studies) So if you want to feed only wet food (good quality), go for it! I’ll reiterate, I give my cats both dry and wet foods (measured amounts). And they get only a mere 4-6 treats per day which are always a tartar control type.
THE WEIGHT LOSS PLAN
First, if this is truly a serious weight condition, take your cat to a veterinarian. The vet may do blood work (looking for health problems), an exam and record the weight.
If changing the actual food, then gradually over a period of three to four weeks add more of the new weight-loss food/diet with the old, decreasing amount of the old diet and adding more of the new one. Feed foods high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. Feed the proper portion size twice a day. Skip treats if possible during the weight loss program.
Don’t forget about increasing her activity level, as mentioned earlier, to burn more calories.
Weigh the cat at least once a month. Or every week if you can to track it. If your scale doesn’t register when you sit her on it, then weigh yourself – write it down. Grab your cat and step on the scale holding her and check the weight. Subtract one from the other and you have her weight. If her weight isn’t budging at all after a month, decrease the total amount you’re feeding her – by a tiny bit. You’d be shocked how a little makes a huge difference in affecting a cat’s weight.
If you do have a fat cat, it can take several MONTHS until she reaches an ideal weight. Once this happens, maintain it. That means if she hits the weight that is about perfect but keeps losing, then you need to increase the food amount just a smidgen.
With her weight loss, she should be more active and happy. Her appearance and fur will look healthier. Hopefully you’ve helped her avoid diabetes, arthritis and other health issues related to being overweight. You’ve likely added years to the length of her life, too! Isn’t that wonderful?
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