Common Health Concerns in an Overweight Cat
Concerned about how round your cat has become, or even notice your cat losing weight too quickly? It's easy for people to realise they've gained too much when their clothes get a little snug. When it comes to your feline friend it’s up to you to watch for the warning signs that. If your cat needs to lose weight, follow these tips:
Pawing at Obesity
Some cats are obviously obese by looking at their build, whereas others are en route to becoming an overweight cat. The first warning sign? Large fluctuations in weight. Believe it or not, your cat losing weight should be a concern too. Some health issues can cause weight gain, but others can come about because your cat's extra weight is making them sick. If your cat shows signs of any health issues, be sure to talk with your veterinarian, who can determine whether or not your cat needs to shed a few pounds to improve overall health.
Another sign that your cat is headed towards obesity is constant hunger. Feeding your cat a diet rich in fibre and protein can stimulate metabolism while also making your cat feel fuller longer. By giving your cat the proper nutrients they will feel more active, eat less often, and have a greater chance of maintaining a healthy weight.
Lack of Activity
Another sign you may have an overweight cat is when they’re less active than usual. Once a cat is spayed or neutered, they start to show signs of a slower metabolic rate, which means they may be less active and therefore need fewer calories. If this caloric intake isn't adjusted properly, the cat may continue to gain weight and become obese.
The age of your cat also needs to be considered when monitoring activity level. Typically, older cats do become less active and therefore may need to eat less food. Sometimes, pet parents who adjust their cat’s food notice activity levels picking up as a result. Also, consider asking your vet about a cat food specially formulated for cats after they have been spayed or neutered; this type of food accounts for the decrease in your cat's metabolic rate to reduce the chance of weight gain.
Are You Overfeeding?
The first step in helping a cat lose weight properly is to control the amount of food you're putting in the bowl. With the help of your veterinarian, choose a food that matches your cat's current age and dietary needs. Your food choice should be one that includes all the nutrients your cat needs to maintain a healthy life. Cats should also avoid human foods and products filled with artificial flavours and additives. Unsure about a type of nutrient rich food or how much to give your cat? Start by looking on the back of the package for suggestions (remember, one cup doesn't mean a heaped cup). It may be a good idea to get a measuring cup to track how much total food you are feeding everyday. In general, cats who are fed two or three smaller (and measured) meals per day tend to maintain a healthy weight.
Once you know exactly how much food your cat's getting each day, you should discuss the amount and frequency with your veterinarian. Although the back of food packaging gives a general idea of how much your cat should eat, your veterinarian is ultimately the best one to determine the type of food and the amount your cat should eat to lose or maintain a healthy weight. Once you have the right food amounts and a feeding schedule, your next step is to incorporate proper (yet entertaining) exercise into your cat’s routine.
Help Them Exercise Away the Weight
Food adjustments alone can help cats avoid obesity, but for most, it needs to be a combination of diet and exercise. Taking your cat on a walk or run with you isn't the best idea, but there are many ways you can get moving together in the comfort of your own home. Cats are natural predators and it's important for your cat to find playful ways to tap into this instinct. It can be fun for both cats and cat parents to set up new and creative games such as hide-and-seek or a miniature obstacle course inside the house. If you don't have simple items in your house that your cat is interested in playing with, a few new toys may help get them engaged and ready to be more active. Check out our list of cat games you can play with your cat to get them moving.
Start by getting your cat to play for about five minutes per day. After a few weeks, try to get them to a point where they are losing weight, by encouraging at least ten minutes of play every day. Any increase in activity could help your overweight cat get leaner and even maintain a healthy weight consistently. Once eating right and keeping a more active routine, your cat will truly be enjoying a higher quality of life—and that is something all pet owners want for their affectionate companions.
Taking Steps to Maintain It
Keeping your cat within a healthy weight range not only improves quality of life; it can also save you a lot of money. Pet owners spend millions every year fighting health problems caused by obesity, according to PetMD. Whether you have an obese cat now, one who's showing warning signs of being overweight, or just general concerns about their potential for obesity, taking steps to improve your cat's food intake and activity level benefits the whole family. To keep your cat maintaining a healthy weight, be sure to continually monitor that activity level and have your vet regularly evaluate their weight and dietary needs.
Chrissie Klinger is an educator, mother, and pet owner with a passion for living a healthy and eco-conscious lifestyle.