By Dr. Kathy Boehme
Do you notice your cat looking a little fat? According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention A staggering 59 per cent of cats in the United States are obese or overweight. These conditions can lead to serious health issues for our feline friends such as diabetes, fatty liver disease (fatty liver disease), and arthritis.
Many cat owners don’t realize their pets are overweight. In fact, a recent survey showed that 90 percent of pet owners with overweight pets believe their pets are actually a healthy weight.
Cat weight gain can be caused by many factors. Pet owners who see their cats every day often may not be able to notice weight changes in their cats. Indoor cats have a tendency become more sedentary with age. Kibble is much more calorie dense than canned diets and can be easily overfed. After spaying and neutering, cats’ calorie requirements decrease and pets age. Genetics play an important role in feline obesity.
How can we fight the feline bulge? Exercise and diet are key factors in combating the feline bulge, just like with humans.
There are several options when it comes to adjusting your cat’s diet for weight loss.
Simple calorie cutting is the best strategy. Cats should lose between one and two percent of their bodyweight per week if they have a healthy diet. This is approximately one-half to one pound per monthly. If you are not achieving adequate weight loss, don’t hesitate to reduce your cat’s food intake by 10 percent per week until successful.
You can dilute calories by switching to canned diets if your pet is currently fed kibble. This can be difficult but there are many benefits. Here are some useful tips There are many resources available to help make the transition smoother.
Dividing your cat’s daily allotment of food into multiple meals can also increase the amount of calories burned as well as influence your cat’s perception of hunger. It is important to control portions by accurately measuring your cat’s food at each meal.
Each cat should be fed individually in a household with multiple cats. This makes it easier for cats to eat and is less stressful.
Your cat’s body weight should be monitored every other week at home using a scale that weighs to one tenth of a pound (0.1 pound). You can use a traditional scale to weigh yourself first and then weigh your cat. Calculate your cat’s weight by subtracting the first number from the second. Baby scales are also great for accurately measuring your cat’s weight. If you cannot weigh your cat at home, you can always stop by your veterinarian’s office for regular weight checks.
Be aware that it can take a few months for your cat’s weight loss to begin. Your veterinarian can help you with guidelines on the number of calories to start with for your cat’s body size. It can also be very helpful to keep a journal of your pet’s food intake and weight during this time.
Cats can lose weight by eating fiber-rich and protein-rich diets in addition to limiting their caloric intake.
It has been proven that increasing dietary fibre can reduce voluntary food intake, as well as the desire for food. Many weight loss formulas contain 10 to 15% dietary fiber. This provides bulk, dilutes calories, and promotes a feeling of fullness.
Fiber-enhanced foods may not be suitable for all cats. Some cats have experienced increased stool volume, food refusal and dry skin, as well as unacceptable begging behavior.
Similar to the Atkins diet in humans, high protein, low carbohydrate foods are often used for “metabolic control” in cats. Theoretically, this allows the body to use fat (not carbs) as the cat’s primary energy source.
This approach has many benefits, including weight loss, appetite control, and improved insulin sensitivity. This approach may also help preserve lean muscle mass.
Cats lose weight in different ways than humans. There are no clear indicators to help us decide which strategy is best in each case. Some cats will not respond to any one of these strategies.
Regardless of the approach, calories are still the most important factor to watch for weight loss — and the odds of success increase substantially when exercise is increased at the same time.
The obesity crisis is largely caused by indoor cats not getting enough exercise.
Because the energy requirement for inactive pets is approximately 20 to 40 percent less than that of moderately active animals, increasing activity is needed to directly influence the cat’s metabolic rate. A simple 10-minute play time per day can be as effective for cats as diet restriction. We recommend two 10-minute play sessions every day for cats to keep them active and energized.
Often, however, indoor cats can become quite “shut down” and it may be difficult to elicit play behavior. Don’t give up. Rotate toys and other games to keep your cat entertained. In order to keep your cat interested in food, you can create feeding strategies that have the cat climbing up or searching for food. To increase activity and calories burned during food, puzzle feeders can be used. Get your cat moving again by using your imagination. Most likely, your cat will be curious to see what you’re up to.