A recent study has revealed that 58% of household cats in the USA were overweight. Today that number could be higher, so how do you help your cat lose weight? One of the first things we need to discuss before we can answer that question is, how our cats become overweight in the first place. Many cats are obese, and much of it is down to misinformation, and owners not knowing the correct things to do to keep their cats lean and healthy. Let us discuss how, and why our cats are becoming obese and the solution to the problem.
What Are The Causes Of Our Cats Being Overweight?
We as humans are also becoming overweight, mainly due to the fact that we don’t have to hunt for food anymore, and we have the luxury of getting food whenever and wherever we want. We can even have food delivered straight to our front door, and often do. Many of us don’t exercise regularly enough either, adding to the problem of gaining weight, so what has this got to do with cats? Well, many of our pet cats are in the same situation as us, they have food put right in front of them, and they can lounge around all day sleeping or cleaning themselves, because they do not have to go out and hunt that food.
In the wild, cats are natural hunters, but never know where their next meal is coming from. Therefore, they are constantly on the lookout for a meal, always alert. They roam over a wide range of different areas looking for prey, and when they find it, they have the ability to chase it down, stalk it and are very fit and agile. A house cat doesn’t need to go hunting for their food as we, as owners, supply them with all the food they need, and this in turn, can lead them to become lazy. They don’t need to hunt, so they get into the habit of sleeping longer, and lounging around on our lap or couch, leading to much less exercise, which in turn, leads to gaining weight, just like us.
Another problem owners face when it comes to feeding our pets, is the hundreds of different choices of foods we have to give them. It is extremely easy for us to go out and purchase a bag of dry cat food, so we can fill their bowl two or three times a week and allow our cats to eat whenever they want to. This can be a major contributor to making our cats overweight, or obese due to the amount of different ingredients in many of the foods we buy. Moreover, the dry food, and especially the cheap dry food, has completely the wrong ingredients for our cat.
When hunting in the wild cats always hunt for other animals, big cats go for large prey smaller cats go for birds and rodents, all of, which are high in protein and fat. The trouble with many of our dried cat foods is that they also have too much carbohydrates in them, as well as preservatives and other questionable ingredients that are not good for our cat’s health. We need to be feeding our cat foods that are high in protein and fat but with much less carbs, sugars, coloring and preservatives. One should always read the label on canned or dried cat food and look for ingredients that have meat as the first main ingredient, corn as a main ingredient is no good, one should also pay attention to the serving size.
It is always wise to take your cat to a veterinarian before changing your cats diet, as each individual cat is as different as each individual person. The vet can also tell you if your cat is overweight due to a medical issue rather than a diet or exercise problem and may suggest ways to help your cat lose weight. Once your vet gives you the go ahead you can then start to watch your pets diet, and exercise safely and look forward to a healthier bond with your pet.
So How Do We Help Your Cat Lose Weight?
- Amount of food
We as humans tend to make the mistake of eating portions that are way too large for what our body needs, just check the portion size on a cake and you’ll be surprised at just how little a portion is supposed to be, as opposed to that big slice we actually put on our plate.
The same applies to cats and their food, in most cases a one ounce tin of cat food will be around the correct amount for a seven pound cat per meal. Cat owners need to think in ounces rather than in cup sizes when it comes to looking after and feeding our pets correctly, they will live longer for it. Once we have sorted out the correct food to give our cat, and the correct portion size, that is half the problem solved in getting our pet to a normal size, instead of obese.
Also make sure you stick to set meal times for your cat, ideally breakfast, lunch and dinner time when you eat so that your pet gets into that routine. Don’t give in to your pet’s pleas for food outside those set times as for example Oscar our outdoor cat seems to think that whenever we let him in at different times of the day it is time for him to eat. Think again Oscar!
Now, we can move on to the second important part, exercise.
Many cats do not get the exercise they really need, this can be particularly true with indoor cats. You can interact with your cat by playing with him, or her in many different ways. That said, one of the main play toys is a wand toy in, which you can play with your cat, and they can get some real exercise at the same time. Toys in the shape of birds, or mice can also entice them to play more frequently, thus giving them a natural, but much needed form of exercise.
Here is a short video of my son’s kitten Lily playing with her favorite yellow and red fluffy ball!
If, you buy a toy for your cat, and he seems to ignore it, don’t let this put you off. Keep in mind, that different cats prefer different shapes of toys, and sometimes even prefer specific colors. Therefore, try several different toys, and in different colors to find out which one he or she prefers. Oscar’s big preference is chasing a small ball of wool!
One should consider adding new things to the environment to add more natural exercise, and depending on the space available it will contribute as to what type of things to add. A small apartment may require that you add more vertical climbing and scratching posts because of the limited space. However, a more open environment with plenty of rooms will allow you to add more adventurous play things, which will keep your cat happy even while you’re at work.
With a good natural, portion sized diet, and good exercise your cat will be back to its normal weight in no time, he will also be more alert, more playful than usual and even live a longer, healthier life because of it.