Gaining weight often happens when we are too busy to notice. Losing the weight unfortunately takes more of a conscious effort. Same goes for our furry feline family members. City cats spend all their days indoors, this can make them most susceptible to weight gain.
However, when everyone is living a healthier lifestyle, the whole family is happier (including the cat). That is why today we are sharing 5 simple ways to help your cat lose weight.
How do I know if my cat is overweight?
It is very possible that although you are properly caring for your cat’s health, that they are still overweight. Just like humans, cats have different propensities to gaining weight. Two cats can be living the exact same lifestyle and result in a different type of weight gain, (or lack thereof).
That is why it’s important to take into consideration the specific needs of each cat and their genetics. In order to find out if your cat could benefit from losing weight, schedule a wellness visit with your local veterinarian. If losing a few pounds is in your cat’s near future, the vet can help put together a game plan.
Why should I help my cat lose weight?
Cats who are overweight will experience a multitude of health related issues. Being unhealthy is never pleasant (and expensive), it is not something we want to see our loved cats go through. Helping your cat lose a few pounds will decrease the chance of weight related illnesses. Therefore increasing the quality of their days as well as life expectancy .
A few health concerns that an overweight cat could experience (just to name a few):
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart Disease
- Liver Disease
- Urinary Problems
- Skin Problems
- GI Issues
5 Simple Ways to Help your Cat Lose Weight
1. Rule out Health Issues
While you are at the vet checking their weight, it will be beneficial to have a full panel blood test to rule out any health issues. A common health issue that causes weight gain in cats (and humans) is Hypothyroidism.
This is also a great time to discuss what the best food is for your specific cat. Based on their breed, age, activity level and health, your vet will be able to point you in the most suitable direction. There are also some prescription based weight loss cat food on the market you can ask your vet about.
2. Make Meals a (fun) Challenge
Many cat parents have created the habit of simply putting their cat’s food on the floor, in the same place and easily accessible. Mimicking our human mealtimes is not the best course of action if you want to keep your cat healthy. It could also be affecting their road to weight loss.
In fact, cats are designed to scavenge for food, they enjoy working for meals. Making meal time a challenge by hiding their food around the house, will get your cat up and moving. Burning those extra calories around meal times will shed the pounds while having fun. An added benefit is that working for their food gives cats a sense of meaning in life and you might find yourself with a happier companion.
Take this meal challenge a step further. Consider a food dispenser that encourages your cat to figure out how to get the food. A few examples are meal dispenser balls, puzzle and play dispensers, or for wet food get a bunch of small plates and hide them around the apartment.
3. Pick Lean Meat Cat Food options
Wet food is often healthier for cats than dry food. The two main reasons for this is that it contains fewer carbohydrates (which contribute to weight gain) and has a lot more liquids for hydration. Taking your cat off dry kibble should be the first step towards optimizing their meals towards weight loss.
Counting calories will help your cat lose the weight in a meaningful way. Take a look at the food you are already giving your cat and asses whether they might benefit from a leaner option. Replace red meats such as beef with chicken or turkey, check sodium levels on the packaging as well as carbohydrates.
Brands we recommend for cats trying to lose weight:
- Purina Pro Plan Weight Control, Grain Free Senior Pate Wet Cat Food, PRIME PLUS Chicken Entree
- Avoderm Natural Indoor Weight Control Cat Food
- Royal Canin Feline Care Nutrition Ultra Light Thin Slices In Gravy Canned Cat Food
4. Find the Toys they Enjoy
Daily exercise is really important to helping your feline friend lose weight. Some cats naturally love playing, while others, well.. don’t. Anyone who has been around a cat for a day knows very well that getting them to do something that is not of interest is nearly impossible.
This is where you need to get creative. All cats are interested in something, find out how to leverage that interest towards getting them to move around.
A few options to get your sedentary cat moving:
- Hide food and treats
- If they like being with you, move around the house to have them follow.
- Get a cat leash and let them explore the hallways of your building (or backyard).
- Get a cat tree condo to encourage climbing.
Experiment with different toys. If your cat enjoys being in the same room as you, spend some time moving around the house. Alternating between sitting on the couch and floor can encourage your cat to jump up and down a few times. Depending on their current energy level, that might be a big win for the day.
A few toys I’ve found to be popular among most cats:
5. Ignore the Begging
This is probably the toughest of all. Habits are hard to change, so expect some push back from your cat if all of a sudden the treats have disappeared and meals have been cut in half.
When those cute cat eyes stare at you and their meowing sounds something like “pleeeeeease can I can one more treeeeat????” it will be really easy to forget that end goal. When you feel close to giving in to your cat’s demands, remember the huge favor you are doing them by optimizing their health. They will live longer healthier lives, and before you know it, the new routine will become the norm.
Help Your Cat Lose Weight Will Benefit Everyone
Weight loss is never easy, not even for our pets. Whether your cat is extremely obese, or just needs to lose a bit of weight, getting into a healthier lifestyle will benefit everyone 10x over. Helping your cat lose weight can mean enjoying their sweet purrs for added years to come and if that is not worth it alone, I don’t know what is!
If you are struggling with your cat’s weight loss. Don’t forget to reach out to your local veterinarian. They can help you customize a weight loss plan specific to your cats needs.
Written by: Stephanie Surjan Owner of Chicago Urban Pets & City Pet Questions
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