Proper weight management in cats is important for long and healthy life. It is the dream of every pet parent to ensure their cat stays healthy by giving the correct nutrition. It is important to feed your cat with the best cat food for weight management to achieve a healthy weight. Weight loss in cats usually takes months to see results, therefore, patience and consistency are key.
What is the major cause of obesity in cats?
1. Free feeding
Free feeding is whereby you do not restrict your cat from accessing a bowl of food at any time of the day. Just like people, cats have different personalities when it comes to feeding and may be prone to overeating. Most pet parents free feed due to their busy schedules.
Naturally, cats have a hunting instinct and when free-fed they tend to eat more than they need. Cats need scheduled feedings (between two to four meals per day) to manage their weight.
Practice scheduled feeding whereby you teach your cat to adhere to a feeding schedule. Before starting a schedule feeding diet, you should know the actual amount of food your feline friend needs per day. This usually depends on the cat breed, age, and health.
Cats love tasty treats. They may seem small but they are usually loaded with extra calories that have very little nutritional value. Therefore, they may be a major contribution to your cat gaining weight quickly. Many treats have a lot of carbohydrates. However, the carbohydrates requirement for cats is very low. It is, therefore, important to limit the number of treats you are feeding your cat to prevent obesity
Most cat parents think that all cat foods have equal nutritional content. Sadly, this is just a misconception. Different cat foods have different nutrients and calories. For instance, most dry cat foods are rich in carbohydrates which causes weight gain. Therefore, such high-calorie cat food for weight gain would be great for underweight cats.
Cats need meat in their diet to obtain amino acids and vitamins to stay healthy. A balanced diet is important to meet every cat’s nutritional needs and also to maintain a healthy weight. A healthy diet also keeps your cat’s coat healthy.
What is the best cat food for weight management?
1. Protein-rich diet
Cats are obligate carnivores. They, therefore, require meat and moisture-rich diet. A high protein diet is perfect for weight loss in overweight cats. Protein-rich diets have carnitine (which is found in plenty in animal meats) which helps in converting fat reserves to energy.
Cats love fish and chicken recipes. While buying protein-rich foods for your fur babies, always look that the brand names the protein used in the specific cat food. Avoid “by-products” since it’s not usually clear what ingredients they have used and they may not be nutritious for your cat.
Although a high protein diet is the best cat food for weight management, cat parents with older cats should be cautious while feeding their cats this diet. This is because a cat with a chronic kidney disease loses most of its kidney functions. Therefore, you will need to give a diet with low phosphorus levels. If you can’t use a high protein diet for your cat, you can get a carnitine supplement from your vet or over the counter.
Fish is also a great source of protein. However, you should avoid feeding your cat too much fish in their diet as it has a high content of magnesium and other heavy metals which may impact your cat’s health negatively if fed in excess.
2. Wet cat food
Cats need to moisture-rich food. Canned foods have a higher moisture content than dry food. They are also lower in carbs hence making them very beneficial for cats with urinary problems and also the best cat food for weight management.
Wet cat food for weight loss is the best place to start for weight management in cats since they are rich in proteins and low on carbohydrates and have a high moisture content.
In the past, there has been a concern that feeding a cat canned food only could cause dental diseases. The truth is, even dry foods do not improve a cat’s dental health. According to the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), only specific dry foods have been shown to reduce plaque formation, gingivitis, and tartar in cats.
How do I know that the best cat food for weight management I choose is of high quality?
Check what the first ingredient is. A good brand has meat or a fish as the first ingredient Check for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) certification. Certified foods mean that they have met the minimum required nutritional value
Is dry food the best cat food for indoor overweight cats?
Most cats certainly enjoy dry food. Also, it is a convenient option for cat parents. However, too much dry food is not the best option for your cat. This is because dry foods have a high carbohydrate content which may cause obesity, urinary, and kidney problems as well as digestive problems such as vomiting and diarrhea for your cat.
If your cat experiences health issues related to feeding on dry foods, it is advisable to reduce their dry food intake and replace them with high-quality wet foods for cats.
Cats need plenty of fresh water at all times. You can get a pet water fountain since it encourages cats to drink more water, keeping them away from potentially dirty water. You also need to ensure that your cat eats from a clean bowl at all times. While cleaning your cat’s feeding bowl, avoid using strong detergents as they are not only potentially poisonous to your cat but could also put off your cat due to strong odors.
How do I promote weight loss for my overweight cat?
1. Vet checkup
Changing an obese cat’s diet drastically could cause a life-threatening liver disease known as hepatic lipidosis. Therefore, before adjusting your cat’s diet, you need to get him/her checked by your vet. During the visit, the vet may check for other underlying issues your cat may be having that could impact his weight loss. If your cat doesn’t have any medical conditions, your vet will discuss the available weight loss options available for your cat.
Diabetes is one of the most common health issues for overweight cats. If the vet confirms that your cat is diabetic, he will recommend a nutritional program that will assist your cat to lose weight safely. If need be, they will also discuss with you on when to administer the insulin injections to your cat.
2. Know your cat’s target weight
Knowing the ideal weight your cat should weigh will help you determine the correct amount of calories to feed your cat that will help her lose weight. Once you determine this, you will know the correct daily calorie intake for your cat. Give your cat just enough food to fulfill her daily calorie intake. For diabetic cats, look for food with ingredients that will not irritate her diabetes.
3. Give your cat time to adjust to the new diet
Allow your cat some time to adjust to the new diet. One to two weeks is enough time for your cat to adjust. Prepare a feeding schedule whereby you feed your cat 2 to 3 times a day, every day of the week. To encourage your cat to eat new food, you can add flavors that she is used to to the new food or warm the food to make it more appetizing.
4. Include supplements to your cat’s new diet
Feeding your cat smaller amounts of food may deprive her of some important nutrients. To avoid this, ensure that you add supplements such as omega 3 and multivitamins to your cat’s diet to ensure that she stays healthy.
5. Introduce low-calorie treats
Ensure that the treats you give your cat do not exceed 10% of her daily calorie intake. Avoid feeding table scraps as they have high fat and sugar content. There are low calorie treats in the market such as unbuttered air-popped popcorns, broccoli pieces, cooked green beans, and baked diet food.
Ensure the treats you give your cat are low in sugar, salt, and fat. Another great idea is baking some canned food and give your cat small portions as treats. Some cat parents have tried replacing treats with an act the cat loves such as grooming, petting, and playtime.
6. Playtime with your cat
Encourage your cat to play more. An active cat with a proper weight will have a quality and longer life.
You can directly participate in your cat’s weight loss journey by playing with her at least once a day. You can use her toys or run around together inside the house while holding her toys. To motivate her to play, you can give her a low-calorie treat after every play session.
7. Walking your cat
While some cats may enjoy taking walk outside on a leash, some do not like the leash. Therefore, know what your outdoor cat loves to ensure your cat enjoys a walk outside. However, for indoor cats, put climbing posts in your cat’s space. Motivate your indoor cat to move around scratching and climbing on her posts. Posts with multiple levels will encourage your cat to climb to get to all areas on the post. Also, you can place interactive toys on each level to encourage her. This will encourage your cat to move and exercise throughout the day.
8. Follow up
Adopt a long term diet and exercise plan for your cat and follow it. Also, make monthly appointments with your vet to make sure that your cat is healthily losing weight. Once she hits the target weight, adopt a long term plan so she keeps the weight off. You can increase her food intake slightly but ensure that she is still exercising and eating healthy.
Overweight cats are vulnerable to chronic health issues. Speak to your vet on how to manage your cat’s weight. A proper diet plan will ensure that your feline friend gradually loses weight to attain a healthy weight. Avoid crash dieting since it is very risky for a cat to lose weight too fast. It could cause life-threatening liver problems.