You may notice that your cat looks bigger than usual, or your vet may have told you that your cat is fat. What do you do to help your cat lose weight and maintain better habits to keep your kitty as healthy as possible? Here is a rundown of everything you need to know about feline weight loss.
How do you know your cat is overweight or obese?
Vets use a body condition score or BCS to grade their cat’s weight visually. The ideal body weight would score a 5/9 from the 1 to 9 scoring system used.
- A skinny cat would grade a 1/9 and would display visible ribs and spine.
- An extremely obese cat would grade a 9/9 and would have fat deposits over the ribs, front of the hips, neck, and abdomen.
How did my cat become overweight?
Cats can become overweight when they use fewer calories than they consume. The excess calories are stored as body fat. Your cat’s fat cells were pre-determined as kittens. Once the fat cells form, they are permanent. That is why it is so essential to develop good habits early on when your cat is a kitten to prevent obesity when they are young.
Reasons your cat can become obese:
- Early on-set obesity
- Old age
- Owners are overweight
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Competing for food
- Free-fed diet vs. a meal-fed diet
- Females are more prone to obesity
Health risks due to obesity in cats
Some risks come with obesity or being overweight:
- Skin infections
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Immune suppression
- Diabetes mellitus
- Orthopedic and arthritic disorders
- Certain cancers
- Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease)
- Urinary tract issues
Can losing weight help my cat?
Above all, your cat will have a better quality of life and a longer life if they are not overweight or obese. Weight loss can also help by creating less stress on the joints, help the vet perform an exam or surgery easier, improving heart function, and decreasing the number of medications your cat may have to take.
How can I help my cat lose weight?
Also, speak to your vet and coordinate the best plan for your cat to lose weight – considering any underlying medical conditions your cat has.
Basically, your cat needs to use more calories than he or she gets from food. You can do this by increasing the exercise your cat has each day, changing the way you feed your cat and limiting calories.
Exercise and your cat
If you want your cat to be more active, you need to help – gradually increasing daily activity is the best way to approach it. Exercise your cat 10 minutes per day a few days a week – increasing this gradually to 30 minutes per day. You can do this with:
- Cat toys like feather teasers and laser pointers
- Catnip – to encourage them to play
- Environmental enrichment
Your cat and food
- It would help if you always fed your cat from their bowl only – this way, you can prevent overfeeding.
- Don’t give your cat “people food” as tempting as that may be
- Separate your cat from other pets during feeding time to avoid competitive eating or sharing food
- Give your cat smaller, more frequent meals, so begging stays to the minimum
- Cut down on snacks or treats – instead reward your cat with playing or petting sessions
- If you do give treats, they should be low-calorie and used sparingly
- Use a measuring cup when feeding to avoid overfeeding
- Ask your vet for a recommendation for a lower-calorie cat food