Everyone loves an extra “fluffy” cat, but is your cat overweight? Extra pounds can lead to a number of health problems for your pet.
If you are not sure if your cat is overweight, ask your veterinarian, or check out this easy to use body condition score chart.
If your cat is overweight, he has plenty of company – a 2015 survey found that almost 60% of North American pet cats were overweight. Many factors, including overfeeding, genetic disposition and a slow metabolism can cause obesity in cats. The good news is that with your help, your cat can shed those extra pounds.
- Weigh your cat regularly using a digital scale, and keep a record of the result (the Cat Healthy app is a convenient way to keep track of your cat’s progress). Since many cats won’t sit on the scale, hold your cat while you step onto the scale, then weigh yourself alone and subtract that number from your combined weights.
- Start early. For many cats, excessive weight gain starts soon after they are neutered or spayed.
- Ask your veterinarian to calculate the number of calories your cat requires daily, and to recommend a food designed to help cats lose weight. Most overweight cats need to drop their caloric intake by 10 to 20%.
- Switch your cat to wet, canned food, which is much less calorie-dense than dry food.
- If you decide to feed your cat dry food, weigh the daily portion and don’t offer any more, no matter how cute and pitiful the meows for extra helpings are.
- If you are using dry foods, offer them in food puzzles and treat balls. This helps satisfy your cat’s hunting instincts and provides exercise.
- Get your cat moving! Find a toy that you and your cat both enjoy (laser pointers are always a hit) and spend some quality time together every day.
- If you are feeding more than one cat, set up separate feeding stations, with one station in an area that your obese cat doesn’t have access to.
- Restrict treats and favourite foods to no more than 10% of your cat’s total calories.
- Be patient! Weight loss of 1 to 2% of body weight per week is plenty! This means a 7 kg (15 lb) cat should lose only 300 to 500 g (1/2 to 1 lb) per month.
- Download the Cat Healthy app and get health tips tailored to your individual cat.