Obesity in cats is a nutritional condition whereby the cat gains excess body fats. It happens to cats that are over nourished and lack physical exercise or the cats that tend to retain weight the average weight for a domestic cat is approximately 8-10 pounds (3.6-4.4 Kg).
Overweight cats are at risk of developing medical problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, and some types of cancers mostly abdominal cancers. They also have a shorter life span than cats with a healthy weight. The few extra pounds on your cat’s normal weight can be life-threatening.
Obese cats also do not enjoy a quality life, unlike their healthy counterparts. For instance, they struggle to groom themselves, move around and do everything they love as cats. To make your cat lose the extra pounds may seem like a daunting task but, it is doable. A few lifestyle changes for your cat can prove to be of great benefit.
What causes weight gain in cats?
When a cat eats a lot and doesn’t exercise at all, she is likely to gain weight from the increased body fat. However, other contributing factors result in weight gain. These include:
As cats get old, they become less active and require lesser calories than younger active cats. If you feed your senior cat a diet high in calories, it is very likely for her to gain weight. Therefore, look for cats prepared specifically for senior cats for your old cat
Some cat breeds are prone to gaining weight than others. Most mixed breed cats are prone to becoming overweight hence they need foods that will help them maintain a healthy muscle mass.
It is more likely for female cats to become overweight than male cats
- Neutering/ Spaying
Neutered cats require low calories since they have a low metabolism rate. Therefore, spayed/neutered cats are at a higher risk of becoming obese due to their lifestyle. Therefore, it is important to monitor your neutered cat’s weight regularly
- Medical issues
Some diseases such as diabetes and hypothyroidism may cause weight gain in your kitty. Therefore, weight gain associated with a medical issue may require special treatment. Consult with your vet to rule out if your furry baby has any medical conditions that would be making her gain excess weight and get started on treatment
If your cat eats more than she needs, she is very likely to become obese from the fat build up in her body
- Additives on cat’s food
Some low-quality cat food is filled with unhealthy fats and salt to make the food taste. When buying your cat’s food, look at the ingredients to ensure that the ingredients used are only natural ingredients fortified with healthy minerals and vitamins
- Lack of exercise
Too much eating without any exercise will result in weight gain for your kitty.
How do I know that my cat is overweight?
Here are some signs that can point out that your cat is becoming overweight:
- If you cannot feel her ribs when running your hand along your cat’s side
- You can no longer see her waist
- Collar feels tighter on her
- You cats exhibit difficulty in walking or moving around
- Slow movement
- Your cat running out of breath after a simple activity
- Your kitty sleeping more than usual especially if she has been an active cat
How can I help my cat lose weight?
Although the weight problem is a common issue in cats, it can be successfully managed through changing a cat’s diet to foods with low calories. However, changing diet alone is not ideal and may not help as much in your cat losing the excess weight.
Here are other ways that you can help your furry baby lose weight:
- Talk to your Veterinarian
First and foremost, before starting on any weight loss diet, visit your vet for assessment. The vet will assess any health issues that may get in the way of the weight loss plan for your cat and advice. It is important to address any health conditions in your cat before starting on a weight loss plan to avoid making it worse for your cat
- Watch your cat’s diet
Look into what is in your cat’s food. For instance, the calorie amount. Average healthy indoor cats need only 20-30 calories per pound of their body weight per day. If the food you are feeding your indoor cat has calorie amounts exceeding this limit, then your cat is likely to become overweight.
Many food brands make cat food for weight management. These diets are usually lower in calorie amounts and high in other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals needed by your cat. So, if you need to switch from your current diet to the cat food for overweight cats, do it gradually so that your cat does not reject the new food. You can add small portions on the usual diet to familiarize your cat till when your cat gets used to it.
- Canned food vs dry cat food for weight management
Cats love canned food. Since they are served in controlled proportions, it is very unlikely for your cat to overfeed. These are some of the best cat food for indoor overweight cats. However, before buying check the calorie content of the canned food
The availability of dried cat food throughout the day in a cat’s bowl may tempt them into grazing on it the whole day. Therefore, it is very likely for your cat to overfeed and become obese from the uncontrolled proportions of dry cat food. However, you can stop this by leaving the food bowl with the cat for an hour during mealtimes then take it away after you cat feeds.
- Get rid of the treats
Cats love treats. That’s a fact. However, most treats contain hidden amounts of calories and since cat parents give them to the cats several times a day, they may cause obesity in cats. How about changing treats time to playtime? This would be a great way to bond with your kitty and also a great exercise for them that would promote weight loss in overweight cats.
- Make your cat work for her food
How about moving your cat’s food to a new location every time you are feeding him? The thrill to hunt for food would excite her and would also make her move around as a source of additional exercise.
Another great idea is getting a feeding ball for your cat. It works perfectly with dry cat food. For your kitty to get a nugget she has to work through the feeding ball to get it. This will provide your cat with additional exercise good for shedding extra weight.
- Get involved during playtime
There is no way a lazy cat will play all by herself. How about playing with her? She will love it and it will offer a great time for bonding with your kitty. You can use a string, foil balls and laser pointers for a quick play session. Mini playtimes throughout the day work well with cats.
Exercise tips for indoor overweight cats
- Encourage your cat to follow you around as you move from one room to another
- Encourage your cat to play by engaging her during playtime with her favorite toys
- Use a flashlight on walls for your cat to chase
- Get her a climbing tree to encourage her to move around
- Spend time outside
Some cats love walks on a leash outside since they enjoy the outdoors. Try to walk your kitty outside at least once a day to help her shed the extra weight.
- Get climbing posts
Cats playing on the climbing post move a lot. The climbing posts encourage your kitty to move around, hence, give the cat a low-intensity form of exercise. Any amount of exercise is a good step towards helping your cat shed the extra weight
- Give your cat plenty of water
A cat may run to the feeding bowl not because they are hungry but because they are bored. From this, they may gain the extra pound on their weight. How about introducing several bowls of clean water throughout your kitty’s favorite spots? You can also introduce a ceramic water fountain to encourage your cat to drink plenty of water.
- Add L-Carnitine to their diets
The L-Carnitine supplements are known to assist a cat’s metabolism by helping convert fat cells into energy by interacting with the fatty acids in her liver. Some cat foods are blended with L-Carnitine supplements. Before introducing any kind of supplement to your overweight cat, talk to your vet to find out if it will offer health benefits to your cat.
- Check for progress regularly
Check if your cat is losing weight by checking her weight, physical size, and stamina. Also, talk to your vet on the progress regularly so that if your cat isn’t losing weight, they can advise on how to modify the weight loss plan for your cat.
What should I feed my cat to promote weight loss?
The kind of food you feed your kitty plays a very important role in her well-being and health. It is vital to feed your cat a balanced diet to promote a healthy lifestyle and long life. A cat that eats too much will become overweight and be at a high risk of getting the diseases associated with obesity in cats
For overweight cats, food also plays a very important part in helping them shed extra weight. If your kitty is overweight, be keen that the food you purchase is low-calorie and low-fat food. Look for cat food formulated for cat weight loss. There are specialized diets for overweight cats that ensure that your cat gets the necessary nutrients hence receives a balanced diet with the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, minerals, and vitamins.
Most weight management diets usually have less calorie content. Therefore to prevent loss of muscle mass for your cat as your cat loses the excess fats, feed protein-rich diets. Also, ensure that it has some amounts of fiber since it helps your cat remain full even after feeding less.
If you realize that your cat is overweight you should embark on a weight management plan to help her shed the unhealthy weight. However, before you start on any diet change or exercise, see a vet for accurate diagnosis and advice on the treatment options available. They will also recommend for you the best cat food for weight management