To help a cat lose weight can be a real challenge if your pet is obsessed with food. If you decide to do something about it, good for your cat! Keeping your pet at a healthy weight not only impacts your cat’s quality of life, but it also avoids a long list of overweight-related diseases. As follows I mention a list of some health issues that your overweight cat could suffer:
Health Issues Related To An Overweight Cat
- Decreasing of physical activity
- Decreasing in life expectancy
- Predisposition to joint disease
- Respiratory problems
- Cardiac diseases
- Circulatory problems
- Hepatic damage
- Problems in reproductive system
- Metabolic such as diabetes
Due to these potential health problems, your cat being overweight can become a serious problem. When cats are overweight, the ongoing health issues they may be experiencing is never evident. You may see your cat resting more than normal or not very active. When you come to realize it’s something wrong with your cat, it’s usually too late. The best thing to do is helping your cat to lose weight as soon as you note your pet is getting too chubby.
When starting a diet program for your cat, you have to begin a process that will require your attention in order to be successful, because this is not easy. Your pet will cry and beg you for food and here is when you need to be strong and not let that kitty to change your mind.
5 Essential Steps To Help Your Cat Lose Weight
Before any weight loss program for your cat you must be sure your pet doesn’t have diabetes. You need to take your cat to the Vet to be cleared from this. In case your cat doesn’t have this issue, the following steps are necessary to help your cat lose weight:
- Establish a weight goal for your cat
- Choosing healthy low-in-carbohydrates dry and/or wet food for your cat.
- Controlling the daily food intake of your pet
- Applying activity in your cat’s daily routine
- Avoiding treats
1. Establish A Weight Goal For Your Cat
Weighing your cat on a scale is the best option. The first step to help your cat lose weight is to determine how overweight your cat is and if it’s even overweight at all. Only after you determine your cat’s current weight you can establish a weight goal for your pet. A simple way to assess if your cat has extra pounds is by touching its ribs with your hand if you don’t feel them easily, it means your cat needs to lose some pounds. However, a more accurate way is weighing your cat with a scale.
Once you determine the number of your cat’s weight you need to establish a goal considering that your pet can’t lose more of 1% to 2% of its body weight per week. That’s a healthy rate for any pet to lose weight because when cats lose weight too fast there is a risk of what is called hepatic lipidosis which could kill your pet. This condition is caused when the liver, due to the lack of food, starts using the cat’s own fat as food, causing this fatal condition.
How to calculate the 1% to 2% of your cat’s weight?
Let’s say your cat weighs 14 lbs and you want it to weigh 10 lbs. The weight goal is your cat losing 4 lbs, but you can’t get to this goal overnight. On this example if you decide your cat will lose 1% of its weight weekly, you must extract that percent from your cat’s current weight, so:
14 lbs / 1.01 = 13.86 lbs (extracting the 1% from your cat’s current weight)
This means your cat needs to weigh 13.86 lbs after one week of a diet. So in order to determine how much weight your cat needs to lose in one week just do the math with the current weight minus the weight after a week of the diet, so you go:
14 lbs – 13.86 lbs = 0.14 lbs (your cat needs to lose 0.14 lbs per week)
For a better idea go to a lbs/Oz converter and you will obtain that your cat will need to lose 2.24 ounces every week.
How to determine how much food you should feed your cat
Reduce the portions. In the beginning, you won’t be able to determine exactly how much food will make your cat lose weight at that rate, so start reducing the food in 80% of the current amount your cat eats. After a week weigh your cat and check the results. If your feline friend had lost less than 2.24 ounces (the 1% of its body weight) you may want to reduce the food intake to a 70% or engage your pet in more physical activities, either one.
If your cat lost over 1% of its total weight, you may want to keep the same amount of food for another week and check the changes. If your pet keeps losing weight over your defined rate, add a little more food so instead the 80%, feed your cat 90% of the original daily amount. Keep your cat’s activity level as well.
2. Choosing Low-Carb Dry & Wet Food: No More Grain-Based Dry Food
The worst choice to feed your cat is a grain-based dry food. Cats don’t eat grains in the wild, their bodies are not designed to digest them. Grains could lead your cat to develop diabetes because they cause sugar peaks in the cat’s blood, which is the cause of diabetes. You can find several good brands of healthy cat foods on the market with different characteristics and purposes.
So do your research for a better dry food if you are currently feeding your pet a food containing grains. Super Premium cat foods are highly protein-concentrated which makes cats feel much satisfied with less amount of food, which helps with the reduced portions of the new diet.
Include Wet Food
When you switch to a healthy dry cat food you must feed your cat wet food as well. High-in-protein cat foods could cause your cat to dehydrate if your pet doesn’t drink enough water or eat wet food. This dehydration occurs due to the fewer carbs being absorbed by your cats intestine so less water is retained.
The natural cat diet consists of fresh meat which contains water. In order to feed your cat a Premium dry food you need to provide this moisture through wet food and water, because only water is not enough. Consequently, make sure to feed your cat a healthy dry and wet food and provide very clean water at all times. If you need help to choose the type of diet you want for your cat, read the article: Choosing between a dry, wet or raw food diet for cats.
3. Controlling Your Cat’s Food Intake: No More Free Feeding
A good part of helping your cat lose weight is controlling the daily food intake. This can be difficult if you are away from home most part of the day and cannot feed your cat manually. If you are a busy person automatic food dispensers can help you. The advantage of timed cat feeders is that they automatically measure the portions you program. With a a digital timer they dispense these portions to the minute if you want. This is one of the many benefits of using automatic cat feeders.
If your cat is used to free feeding I recommend to split the daily intake into several small portions. This way your cat blood sugar doesn’t go low, which is very important if your cat is a glutton. Not all electric feeders work the same, some of them can be programmed to dispense several small portions per day, but not all of them can do this. The Pet Feedster has he ability to dispense several small meals, up to 6 per day and it works great. I feed my cat with one. You can check my full review of the Pet Feedster where I share videos of how it works.
Watch the Pet Feedster Feeding My Cat
Also, the new Wi-Fi feeders can be fully controlled and managed through a smartphone, Tablet, IPod or laptop and you can program as many meals as you want, from a minimum of 5 gr each. I feed my cat the Honey Guaridan Wi-Fi feeder in my winter home and I highly recommend it. Check my review of the Honey Feeder where I also share videos how it works and how to program a meal.
4. Play With Your Cat On A Daily Basis: Burn All That Energy
Playing with your cat daily is one of the main aspects of helping your cat lose weight. Cats in the wild walk a lot not only because they are looking for preys but also they need to check and dominate their territory. When a cat is indoor all that energy needs to be spent and this is why playing with your cat is so important. We all know that: Energy not spent = Fat. That’s why by engaging your cat with different games you will keep your pet’s weight at a bay. Cats are more active on evenings so after work is a perfect time to play with your cat, do it for at least for 15 minutes straight, the more is always the better.
For those days in which you are too tired to play with your pal, there are interactive toys that will keep your friend busy. There is a wide variety, such as teasers, wands, reeds, lasers. and much more, all of them electronic so you just put them on the floor and they will keep your cat occupied at least for 5 to 10 minutes.
Here there’s a video of my cat playing by herself with an interactive electronic toy:
Though electronic cat toys are a great help to relieve you from playing with your cat, your participation in playing is very important, it will keep your cat encouraged to keep playing and moving.
Another good option is the toy ball food dispenser for cats that makes your pet play, hunt and eat at the same time. These slow-feed treat/food dispensers are ideal for cats that inhale their food because they re-educate the cat eating habits. You can get your cat to slow down when eating using these interactive toy dispensers because in order to eat the cat needs to think about how to get the food or treats from the toy.
These interactive treat toys are usually puzzles or boards with pegs that make it difficult for the cat to eat, your pet must work for its food and each piece of kibble is a reward.
It’s important to use these slow-feed toys to re-educate your chubby cat because automatic feeders can’t stop a cat from inhaling the food. Once the automatic feeder dispenses the portion, it will sit in the tray or bowl, so the device can’t control how fast your cat eats it.
5. No More Treats (at least for now)
If you are trying to make your cat lose weight it’s very important to avoid feeding it with treats. Treats contribute to gain weight big time. You will have to stop feeding your cat treats during the diet. Eventually, when your pet reaches a healthy weight you can reintroduce them slowly, feeding your pet 2 or 3 treats as a reward.
Helping your cat lose weight is as hard as a person trying to lose weight. Prepare yourself for loud cries and meows but stay firm, your pet will appreciate what you are doing for him.