Slim Ain't Easy!
The rising concern of obesity in cats is a fast-growing problem for pet owners, with more and more people allowing their fur babies to pile on the pounds as the years go by.
While a husky kitty may make a better snuggle buddy, letting your cat become overweight can be incredibly dangerous for your cat’s overall health.
Obesity is considered a serious medical condition in domesticated felines, especially older cats and indoor kitties. We all know our fluffy friends’ two favorite pastimes are sleeping and eating. However, by free feeding our fur babies and not encouraging exercise or play, they can rapidly gain weight and fall into a dangerous pattern.
How Do Our Cat's Become Overweight?
Lack of exercise and overeating are not the only culprits. Kitty’s most at risk of becoming overweight are:
- Indoor only cats
- Aging felines
- Cats with health conditions such as diabetes and arthritis
- Those who are free-fed by owners
- Kitties that eat human food or low-quality cat food
- Neutered cats that lose energy
- Kitties in single-pet households with partners to preoccupy them
So How Can You Tell If Your Cat Is Inching Close To Obesity?
It’s hard to determine if your cat is overweight from just weight alone. There is no standard healthy weight range as an average cat's weight will vary depending on the breed and age. Moreover, male cats tend to weigh a little bit more than females.
Even so, most domestic shorthairs should weigh between 8 and 12 pounds. If you have a large breed cat such as a Ragdoll or a Maine Coon, ask your vet how much your feline should weigh. Statistics show these breeds can reach upwards of 15 to 20 pounds and still be healthy.
A more effective way to understand if your cat is healthy is to examine them visually.
- Firstly, if you can see a hanging belly or round abdomen, this is a clear indication your cat needs to slim down.
- A healthy-sized cat’s torso will become more slender from the belly to the bottom. If their hips protrude, this could mean they are in the unhealthy weight range.
- If it is difficult to feel your kitty’s ribs and you have to press hard to do so, this is a distinct sign that they’re bigger than they should be.
How To Put Your Cat On A Diet
If your cat is overweight, there is no choice but to put them on a diet to ensure they can get healthier. However, do not restrict food without consulting your vet first.
If done incorrectly, drastically changing the amount or type of food can cause digestive problems or even a vitamin deficiency. Moreover, your vet can check if your cat has any other health problems that could be contributing to the weight gain before we tackle their dietary concerns.
- First things first, if you’re leaving dry food out all day, stop! According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, free-feeding is one of the biggest causes of feline obesity. Many cats will eat more than they need if they have continuous access to food.
- Feed your cat at set times and stick to a schedule, creating clear mealtimes. Adult cats should eat two meals a day (or three smaller meals depending on your routine with them).
- Feed more wet food and less dry kibble. Most dry kibbles contain grains and, therefore, have a higher carbohydrate content. Moreover, it has less protein than wet food. This makes wet food a more filling and nutritional option.
- When switching to a new food, do it slowly. Start by mixing both foods. Then, gradually decrease the old food ratio and increase the new one until the switch is complete. Some cats can stop eating if you suddenly give them different food.
How Much Should You Be Feeding Your Cat?
If your cat needs to lose weight, unfortunately for them, they will have to cut calories daily. First, you need to get clear on what an ideal healthy weight for your kitty is so you can set a small goal. Cats are most likely to lose weight slowly, steadily, and safely by eating 70 percent of the calories they need to maintain their ideal weight.
So how do you work out how many calories your cat needs? An equation many vets use is:
30 X ideal weight in kg + 70 = daily calorie intake
Let’s say your fur baby’s ideal healthy weight is 4 kg. (8.8 lbs) 30 X 4 + 70 = 190, so your feline should eat 190 calories per day to lose weight.
You can also use the method of body weight multiplication. Your cat should be eating 20 calories per pound of bodyweight to maintain their current weight.
So if your cat is 15 pounds and needs to slim down, multiple 20 X 15 and you'll get 300 calories. For your cat to lose weight they'll need to be eating only 70% of those 300 calories a day, so you'll multiple it by 0.7. Once multiplied you'll get a total of 210 calories a day for your cat to gradually lose weight in a healthy way.
If your cat is currently eating a lot more than their proposed calorie intake, reduce their food slowly to prevent rapid weight loss or anxiety.
Cats should lose no more than 2 percent of their total weight per week. Shedding pounds too quickly can be detrimental to your kitty’s health, even leading to liver disease. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says 1 pound (0.4kg) per month is a healthy amount for cats to lose.
Additional Tips For Weight Loss
Keep their water bowl full. Like us humans, sometimes cats feel like they are hungry when they are just thirsty. Ensure fresh water is always available and encourage your fur baby to drink more throughout the day.
Likewise, just because your cat is asking for food doesn’t mean they are hungry. Some kitties will ask for food when they are bored and under-stimulated. Resist the urge to give them an extra meal and distract them with a toy or game instead.
Avoid giving them any human food. Cat food is made explicitly for the unique nutritional needs of a cat. Most human foods have little to no nutritional value for felines, and many are too high in fat and sugar for a small animal. Even just a few scraps or leftovers can negatively impact your fur baby’s weight and health.
Go easy on the treats too. Cat owners tend to give their cat treats if they feel bad for being out all day or not having enough time for them. A healthier way to show your kitty your love is with a cuddle.
Putting your cat on a diet is not the most straightforward task. Still, as their primary caregiver, it’s your responsibility to keep your fur baby’s weight in check.Your cat might be confused or unhappy about their new structured mealtimes, but be patient and don’t give in to their pleas and purrs! At ChillX we understand the importance of monitoring your cat's health metrics. We've designed the AutoEgg with a built-in touch screen that can accurately monitor their weight and even aid you in their weight loss journey. Visit our homepage to learn more. Good luck!