Obesity is a serious health concern, and it has expanded beyond the human population to include the nation’s pampered pets. If your cat is pleasingly plump, portly or pudgy, it is time to enact a weight loss program before the excess pounds take a detrimental toll on your cat’s life.
The Consequences of Feline Obesity
Like humans, cats that are obese are at an increased risk for a host of problems that can adversely affect quality of life and reduce longevity. Some of these problems include:
Achieving healthy weight loss in cats is more challenging than it is in dogs. You can tether your dog to a leash and take it for a walk around your neighborhood. Since dogs are eager to please their owners, they are easily coerced into playing. Successful weight loss is possible in cats, however. The best weight loss programs for cats are those similar to the best weight loss programs for humans in that they both require a combination of diet and exercise.
Feeding the Full-Figured Feline
A weight loss program for your cat should begin with a consultation with your veterinarian, who can recommend a healthy target weight for your cat and prescribe an effective weight loss diet. Some cat foods that you find in retail stores may be labeled as weight control or weight maintenance. These foods are fine to use for maintaining the target weight after your cat has achieved the desired weight loss. These foods are not very effective for losing weight, however. Instead, your veterinarian can prescribe one of several diets for cats that are specifically designed to help cats lose weight and feel satiated.
Prescription weight loss diets for cats are available in canned and dry kibble variations. While feeding canned food is healthier for a cat’s renal health, this is not the time to turn your cat’s culinary world entirely upside down. Feed whichever type of food your cat is currently used to eating. If your cat adamantly refuses to eat the first brand of food that you offer, speak to your veterinary clinic staff about alternative brands that they can order for you to serve.
When you follow the feeding guidelines that are stated on the bag of food, be sure to feed the recommended daily amount for your cat’s target weight instead of for its current weight. Measure the food with a standard measuring cup, and feed your cat in a meal fashion instead of free range feeding. If your cat normally eats twice a day, divide that recommended daily amount in half for each of the two meals.
Making Kitty Move About the Cabin
Most cats become overweight and obese after they have left their jubilantly playful youth of their kitten years behind. Cats, like people, become comfortable with occupying the couch, and they become sedentary. To get your cat moving once again, it is going to require diligent coaxing on your part. Simply tossing a crinkle toy across your lounging cat’s field of vision is not likely to inspire a reaction of physical activity.
If your cat demands treats, make the treats a reward for movement. Take a few kibbles from your cat’s daily rationed diet and place them inside one of the treat dispensing puzzle cat toys that are available in pet supply stores. Your cat will have to roll the toy around to make each treat fall out. You can also divide the cat’s daily amount of food into several dishes, and disperse the dishes at various random locations throughout the home. This will make the cat get up and walk around in search of the food.
Try to engage your cat into active playtime with a laser dot toy that will have to be pursued around the room and up and down vertical surfaces. Interactive toys that you control with the wand end while the cat chases and grabs the prey at the other end of the string are also helpful. If your cat is trained to walk on a leash and harness, take your kitty along for a short walk around your yard each day.
Keep Tabs On Your Tubby Tabby
Weigh your cat each week on a baby scale, and keep a record of the results. If you do not have a baby scale, most veterinarians will allow clients to bring their pets in for a weight check during hours when their practices are quiet. Keep your veterinarian aware of your cat’s weight loss progress. It is essential to remember that weight loss in cats should be gradual. When weight loss occurs too rapidly, cats can develop hepatic lipidosis, a life-threatening liver disease that requires hospitalization. This condition results when an obese cat experiences a drastic drop in food intake or stops eating altogether. It is imperative that your cat continues to eat daily, and your cat needs to eat the entire recommended daily amount. If your cat snubs the new diet, do not allow the hunger strike to continue for more than 24 hours. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your cat refuses to eat the first meal offered on the following day.