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January 27, 2016

PetSafe® Expert

Amy Shojai, CABC

6 Ways to Slim a Cat

fat cat ready for dietThe New Year is a time of beginnings for both people and their pets. For cat lovers, keeping cats slim is a priority that has many health benefits, and healthy food, healthy eating habits, and (yes!) healthy treats are ideal. For cats that have packed on the pudge, now's the time to put resolutions in place to help slim your cat.

Obesity is defined as body fat that's 30 percent beyond the ideal, and this most often affects middle aged and older cats. A recent survey of veterinarians indicates that half of the adult cats seen are overweight or obese. In the six-to-twelve-year-old group, as many as 40 percent of the cats are overweight or obese. According to 2014 statistics published by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 57.9 percent of U.S. cats are overweight or obese.

Why the increase in fat cats? Most felines in the United States are kept inside, and no longer have to hunt and work for their food. Highly palatable foods, and boredom so cats eat more and exercise less, provides the ideal opportunity to put on "table muscle." Overweight cats are more likely to develop diabetes mellitus, skin problems, lameness due to arthritis, and fatty liver disease.

If your cat could benefit from dropping a few ounces, here are 6 resolutions to slim your cat.

Resolve to Manage Meals.

Cats tend to be "grazers" and normally munch only half a dozen dry kibble at a time. But when boredom turns your cat into a Hoover-vacuum, instead switch to meal feeding measured amounts. Divide the daily food total into several small meals keep her from feeling deprived. Multiple small meals increase the body's metabolic rate, so she burns more calories faster.

fat cat diet plan

Resolve to Wet the Calories.

Cutting calories can be easily managed by offering canned (wet) food rather than dry kibble. That's because canned diets typically are 70% water. Offer just a tiny taste of canned ration as a treat, rather than calorie-dense dry yummies. There are food-dispensing products that open canned or dry food compartments on a timer, so you can manage multiple feedings even if you're not home.

Resolve to Move His Tail.

It can be hard to inspire cats to exercise. But interactive games using fishing pole lures or the beam of a flashlight can entice your feline to chase and pounce. Make a twice daily play session part of your routine, and soon your cat will expect and ask for the playtime. It's a great bonding exercise for you both, too.

help cat lose weight

Resolve to Vet the Diet.

Be sure to loop your veterinarian into the cat's diet plans. A crash diet can cause a liver ailment, hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease that can kill your cat. For obese cats, a veterinarian-approved therapeutic diet and monitored feeding plan works best. Some over the counter "lite" cat foods may actually have more calories than a "regular" ration of another brand, so ask for advice for the sake of your cat.

cat weight loss food

Resolve to Offer Munch Hunts.

Bored cats may actually prefer a dinner time challenge, rather than the same old boring bowl. Turn meals into a munch hunt, by placing a dozen kibbles on five or six saucers hidden around the house. This also encourages feline exercise by placing food dishes at the top of a cat tree, or at the top of the stairs. You can also use commercial treat balls and puzzle toys so your cat must manipulate and play with the object to win the food prize. That also keeps the cat's brain engaged.

cat weight loss toys

Resolve to Be Kind to the Mind.

Keeping your cat fit includes exercising his brain. Boredom promotes mind rust, while thinking actually offers healthy lubrication when he uses his cat-smarts to solve problems. That's why the "munch hunts" and inspiring cats to move their furry tails is so important. But overweight and especially older cats probably can't physically move as well as youngsters so be aware that the brain can be "exercising" even when the cat doesn't move. Just watching the feather toy flitter back and forth can be just as enjoyable for cats unable to race around. After all, "watching" is part of the hunting process. And once your cat slims down a bit, he'll add "pounce" to the routine.

cat exercise ideas

I'm very fortunate that my Seren-Kitty has always been super athletic. At her heaviest, she tipped the scales at 7 pounds, but today at age 20 she's barely 5 pounds. My younger cat, though, puts on the pudge just by looking at the food bowl, so we're implementing all of these tips to keep Karma-Kat healthy. After all, I want him to be around for a couple more decades.

Written by

Amy Shojai, CABC

Amy Shojai, CABC

Pet Expert

PetSafe® Expert

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