Has your cat gained weight and it seems lazier than ever? Being overweight is a big problem for many beloved cats. But there are solutions to the problem – here are five simple tips to help your cat lose weight from The Cat Advisor.
Does a typical day in your cat’s life consist mostly of eating and relaxing on your favorite blanket? A large amount of food in combination with too little movement is the most common reason why your furry friend becomes overweight. Obesity can lead to diabetes and joint problems and negatively affect the length and quality of your animal’s life.
Despite today’s huge range of pet food, it is not always easy to make the right choice for your cat. With the right dosage of high quality food, you can be sure that the cat gets all the nutrients and vitamins it needs. And just like with human food, you get what you pay for in terms of quality and ingredients.
1. Switch to a lower calorie diet
As carnivores, cats need a protein-rich and biologically appropriate diet. Most dry foods contain a significant amount of carbohydrates. For some cats, a carbohydrate-heavy diet leads to weight gain. In addition, some dry food can be high in calories, which in itself can lead to the cat ingesting more calories than it loses and thus gaining weight.
Cats require a balanced, moisture-proof and protein-dominant diet. For example, try changing your cat’s food to wet food, which is almost 70% water. Your cat will feel full faster and be less likely to overeat. Another alternative is to test fresh feed that also consists of a large amount of water.
If your cat has been prescribed specific food via your veterinarian, you should always contact the veterinarian before changing the food on your own.
2. Change the cat’s eating routines
Many cat owners pour dry food into a large bowl and let their cat eat continuously throughout the day; it can be likened to eating at a buffet. Often you fill up the bowl as soon as it is empty instead of keeping track of the exact amount of food the cat receives.
To help your cat lose weight, you should offer two to three portion-controlled meals a day instead of leaving food out all the time. Offer the food on a consistent schedule. If your cat cries for food between feedings, put a few pieces in the bowl and leave the room.
A cat’s natural feeding instinct is to eat a small meal, followed by a fasting period and then a small meal followed by fasting. When a cat knows that food is available all the time, they tend to overeat. Therefore, these cats are at risk of becoming overweight due to their constant access to food. You can therefore try to change your cat’s eating habits by switching to a portion-controlled feeding schedule.
3. Vary the place where you feed your cat
Get your cat to work for food by moving food and water bowls around the apartment or house. Consider placing one or two food bowls at higher altitudes (but not too high for your cat to reach). This strategy encourages your cat to be active as it will need to climb and jump to access its food.
Change places on the bowls once or twice a week to keep your cat’s hunting instinct for food, just as the cat’s ancestors once did in the wild. In this way, your cat can lose weight while satisfying its primal instincts.
4. If you have many cats, feed them separately
If you have more than one cat in your household, chances are your cats have contrasting eating habits; some cats are extremely picky while others will devour the food in minutes. Even if your cats like each other, it can cause stress by feeding them close to each other, but especially when they have opposite eating styles.
Separate the cats at each feeding by placing the bowls in different rooms. Cats will feel less need to protect their food from the other cat. It also makes portion control much easier. Then you can keep track of how much each cat eats. A cat that eats too much or too little can suffer from an undiagnosed medical illness, and feeding your cats separately will help you quickly identify the cat whose behavior is abnormal. Then maybe a visit to the vet is necessary!
5. Encourage your cat to play and move
Exercise and movement are a key component in all weight loss, whether you are human or cat. Overweight and obese cats need more exercise in and around the house, and there are many ways to motivate them to get off the couch and move around.
Here are some ways in which you can get your cat engaged and active:
- Buy a cat tower or build your own castle with different levels, this offers cats the opportunity to climb up and down
- Engage your cat in play with toys or other objects that appeal to your cat’s hunting instincts
- Use laser pointers to let the cat chase around the house and burn calories fast
- Let your cat be outdoors
Make your cat’s daily training a habit. Choose twice, one in the morning and one in the evening, to set aside at least ten minutes to play with your cat. When your cat trains regularly, the extra weights will soon disappear!