Fighting Pet Obesity: Helping Cats Fight Battle of the Bulge

We tend to focus on our weight at the beginning of a new year, and we should pay attention to our pet’s weight too.  According to a 2014 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 57.9% of cats in the US are either overweight or obese.

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pet obesity

Why Pet Obesity Happens

So what does cause feline obesity? Lifestyle. Much like us, overweight cats are that way because of overeating and lack of exercise. Some cats are good at regulating their food intake, others are not. If too much food is made available to them, they will eat it. Indoor cats generally don’t have much stimulation in their environment — they aren’t stalking, chasing, jumping.

Reversing Pet Obesity To Get Your Cat Thin

Diet

To begin the weight loss effort with your cat, you’ll need to be aware of how many calories your cat needs per day.  According to a worksheet developed by petobesityprevention.com, a typical domestic cat’s ideal weight is 8-10 pounds.  A cat weighing 8 pounds needs 150 calories per day, while a cat weighing 10 pounds requires 170 calories per day. Have your cat examined by a veterinarian to determine the appropriate weight for your cat, and he can also provide guidance on the amount of food to feed daily to help with weight loss.

It’s important that your cat loses weight gradually, and that he does eat his food allotment daily.  Failure of cats to eat can lead to a very serious liver condition, hepatic lipidosis. Since your cat won’t have as many calories per day, try feeding a canned diet with several small meals throughout the day, ensuring you don’t go over the caloric count that will help with weight loss.  Treats have calories, too, so if giving your cat treats daily, be sure to include those calories in his daily calorie allowance.

Exercise

A gym membership may not be in your kitty’s future, but exercise should be on the menu. If your cat is used to being sedentary much of the time, it may take some time to determine what your cat responds to.  Cats, much like us, sometimes tend to eat from boredom, so providing mental stimulation will get his mind focused on play rather than food.

He may enjoy chasing a laser light, which you can operate from the couch. Another option is a fishing pole toy that gives your cat a chance to practice his hunting skills.

Make your cat work for his food — move his food bowl so he has to go get it.  Even better, try a food dispensing toy. These provide a chance for cats to practice hunting skills and provides exercise.

If your house has an upstairs and your cat is used to laying close to his food bowl downstairs, put the bowl upstairs, he’ll soon figure out he has to go to it. and follow you around the house to get it.

Multi-Cat Households

If you have one overweight cat, how do you manage feeding in a multi-cat household?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Put the normal weight cat’s food in a location the overweight cat isn’t able to access
  • Don’t leave food out when you’re away.  There’s a very good chance the dieting cat will eat food if it’s available
  • Feed meals in separate room.  Feed the overweight cat in one room, the other cat in a different room.  After a set amount of time, say 15-30 minutes, pick up any food that’s left.

Pet obesity is becoming a widespread problem, but being aware of your cat’s diet and providing him plenty of exercise will help keep him healthy and happy for years to come.

For more information on pet obesity prevention, go to petobesityprevention.com

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Written by Karen

Karen

Karen is Publisher of Fully Feline. She also owns a pet care business in Overland Park, KS called Joy of Living.

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