If you want to know how to help your cat lose weight you’ve come to the right place. Even just a few pounds overweight can put your cat at serious risk of developing health problems.
Sadly, obesity is becoming all to common, both for pets and their owners. In this post you’ll discover common reasons your cat may be gaining weight, and some may surprise you!
Plus, how to tell if your feline friend is piling on the pounds, and why you should consult your vet first. Also, proven tips to help your cat lose weight that won’t ruin your relationship!
Is My Cat Overweight?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a cat is overweight. Aside from the obvious “Garfield” belly, it’s not always easy to tell. Long haired cats are notoriously hard to spot the signs of weight gain.
That cuddly bundle of fur may in fact be hiding a paunchy belly! Short haired cats are easier to spot weight gain, though not always obvious.
Unless you have scales for weighing pets it requires a combination of feel and look. You should be able to feel your cat’s ribs, and see her waist when looking from above.
If your cat is standing on all fours and you can’t see her waist dipping in, then she’s probably overweight. In the worst case you may also see your cat’s tummy bulging out around the ribs.
However, it’s quite normal to feel a small roll of fat under the belly.
What Causes Obesity In Cats?
The most common cause of obesity in cats is over feeding. If your cat is taking in more calories than she’s burning, you’ll soon notice weight gain.
It’s no different to humans. If you sat around on the couch all day and kept eating you’d soon put on a lot of weight. I know first hand how hard it is to ignore a cat worrying for food.
Sometimes it’s boredom, and other times learned habits. For example, if your cat associates you walking in the kitchen with getting extra kibbles she’ll come to expect it.
Everytime you make coffee you’ll find your furry companion hot on your heals! It can also take time to undo this bad habit!
Lack Of Exercise
If your cat doesn’t have access to the outside there’s a danger she’ll gain weight. Lack of exercise not only leads to weight gain, but is also bad for your cat’s well being.
Free feeding isn’t always a good idea as your cat has continuous access to food. While this may be your option if you’re out all day, it could lead to weight gain.
Measuring out food is essential if you intend to leave a day’s supply! A good idea is to get an automatic cat feeder. As they only dispense food at set times this puts you in control!
Although arthritis in itself doesn’t cause weight gain, effects of it can. This is seen mostly in older cats with painful joints and reduced mobility.
If your cat is in her senior years you may find she doesn’t jump and move about as much. As well as sleeping more, she may also avoid putting weight on painful joints.
As you can imagine, this increased inactivity is a major contributor to weight gain. I will share a few proven tips on how you can help a senior keep active and lose weight later in this post.
If your cat suddenly starts gaining weight even though you’re not over feeding, it could be a sign of hypothyroidism. However, you’d probably notice a few other symptoms such as sleeping more, hair loss, and an increased sensitivity to cold temperatures.
Fortunately, the condition is treatable with diet and medication. Your vet would carry out a few tests and advise you on the best course of action.
If you’ve had your cat neutered it’s possible any weight gain could be related. This because her hormones will have changed. While neutering in itself won’t make your cat overweight, a loss of leptin may give your cat an increase in appetite.
In addition, her metabolism may become slower making weight gain easy.
Apart from these common causes of weight gain in cats, others may include side effects of medication. In addition, pancreatic cancer and cushings disease could also make your cat gain weight. Fortunately though, they’re very rare
Why You Should Consult Your Vet First
While it’s possible you’ve been over feeding your cat, you still need to be certain. This is simply to eliminate other causes.
Also, your vet will create a diet plan and suggest a feeding schedule. If you’ve been too generous with your cat’s portions you’ll need to start the new plan immediately.
You’re cat will probably complain at first, but don’t give in! The diet recommended by your vet will be low in fat, and higher in protein and fiber.
You’ll probably find once your cat gets used to her new diet she’ll stop worrying for food. This is because fiber keeps cats and people feeling full for longer.
Some of the best weight management cat food contains real meat with no added fillers. In addition, probiotics and vegetables help maintain digestive health.
This is highly beneficial not only for weight loss, but general health and well being. However, you’ll also have to increase your cat’s exercise.
How To Get Your Cat More Active
Exercise will be an important part of your cat’s weight loss plan. The exact same rule applies to both people and cats.
If your cat has access to the outside she’ll probably get enough exercise. However, if you have an indoor cat you’ll need to ensure she keeps active.
You can do this by playing with her for at least ten minutes twice a day. Use interactive toys such as feather wands to encourage stretching and jumping.
Watch the video below to learn how to make a feather wand cat toy
Also, ping pong balls are great for making your cat chase and run. You can even get self rotating balls that wake up when your cat touches them.
Anything that gets your cat off the couch and moving is great. You may find however, if your cat is obese, you may discover a reluctance to get active!
Hiding dry food around the house is a great way to get your cat active! Her natural instinct to forage and hunt will make her search for the hidden food.
If your cat is in her senior years, play gentle games that exercise but don’t hurt. Know her limitations and taylor to suit. Crumpled up paper or toy mice can provide great fun and get your kitty moving.
Also, low level cat trees for older cats is another option. Cats love nothing better than climbing onto a perch and viewing the world around them. Many have toys attached to encourage play.
Consider creating a safe outdoor space for your cat to exercise. This could be a catio joined onto the house, or cat proof fencing if you have a garden.
Ideally though, free outdoor access is always best. If you’re worried about security get a cat flap.
This way your cat is able to come and go whenever she pleases. As long as you’re well away from a main road and feel it’s safe, allowing her to patrol the neighborhood will give her plenty of exercise.
However, if you live in an apartment with no outdoor space think about taking your cat for a walk. This is completely different from walking a dog though.
You can get special harnesses for cats with a lead. Your cat gets to explore, as you walk alongside her. Just be mindful of wildlife or other cats.
You don’t want to end up being dragged over fences or up trees! It could be a funny sight though ha ha!
Serving Smaller Portions
If your cat is used to larger portions of food cutting back can be challenging. As mentioned previously, you may find worrying for food in between meals a problem.
By serving small portions regularly you may discover this helps keep your cat satisfied. Instead of two large meals a day, provide three or four small ones.
If you go out to work during the day an automatic feeder is a good option. I mentioned this earlier as it can be a gamechanger.
While many only dispense dry food, you can get automatic feeders that dispense both wet and dry. The great thing about them is you can decide not only how much food is dispensed, but at what time.
Unless your cat is capable of lifting the lid off a feeder, you’ll feel safe knowing she can’t help herself! A good idea may be to feed your cat before you leave, then provide the automatic feeder.
This way if you’re home late you won’t be greeted by a starving kitty! The last thing you want is a cat worrying for food just as you arrive home.
Puzzle feeders are another option. These are great for stimulating your cat’s hunting instinct. Not only do they get your cat active, but provide great entertainment as well.
You can find a variety of different puzzle toys for cats to suit your feline friend. Find what your cat likes best, but get several so she doesn’t become bored.
Another good idea is to move your cat’s food bowls around. This way she’ll have to look for her meals! This simulates a wild cat’s way of eating and gets your kitty exercising as well.
Obesity in cats is just as dangerous to health as it is in people. Even if your cat is only a few pounds overweight you’re putting her at risk of serious health problems.
Diet and exercise are key in losing weight. However, doing it the right way is important.
NEVER put your cat on a crash diet as you could do her serious harm. Apart from deficiency in vital nutrients, she could become very unwell.
Consulting a vet is always the best idea as they have knowledge and training in cat nutrition. Once a diet plan has been created, you should stick to it until your cat has reached her ideal weight.
I hope I’ve helped you understand how to help your cat lose weight safely and successfully. Whatever weight management cat food you decide to get, make sure it’s low fat with higher amounts of protein and fiber.
You don’t have to buy from your veterinary surgery though as it can work out more expensive. If you’ve found this article helpful please share.
Also, if you have any questions or would like to share experiences leave a comment below.
Wishing you a purrfect day:)