How to Help Your Cat Lose Weight

overweight cat

Overweight cats are unhealthy and unhappy

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

1.- Decreasing of physical activity
2.- Decreasing in life expectancy
3.- Predisposition to joint diseases
4.- Respiratory problems
5.- Cardiac diseases
6.- Circulatory problems
7.- Hepatic damage
8.- Problems in reproductive system
9.- Metabolic such as diabetes
10.-Cancer

Due to these potential health problems, your cat being overweight can become a serious problem. So, in order to start a diet program for your cat you have to do mainly 5 things.

5 Essential Steps To Help Your Cat Lose Weight:

  1. Establish a weight goal for your cat
  2. Choosing healthy low carb dry and/or wet food for your cat.
  3. Controlling the daily food intake of your pet
  4. Applying activity in your cat’s daily routine.
  5. Avoiding treats

 

1. Establish A Weight Goal For Your Cat

Weighing your cat on a scale is the best option (photo credit Lindsey Turner)

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 determining your cat’s current weight you can establish a weight goal for your pet. A simple way to asses 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 but a more accuracy 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 conditions 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% 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 after one week of 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 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 you cat will need to lose 2.24 ounces every week.

How to determine how much food you should feed your cat 

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 pet has lost less than 2.24 ounces you may want to reduce the food intake to a 70% or engage your pet in more physical activities.

Also you must research for a better dry food if you are feeding your pet a food containing grains. That’s a very important next step. In case you choose a healthy protein-based cat food you will still need to reduce the food intake to 80% or 70%, depending on how much weight your cat loses the first week.

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 this and soon your cat will have diabetes if your pet eats grain-based foods and doesn’t do much physical activity. You can find several good brands of healthy cat foods on the market with different characteristics and purposes.

When you switch to a healthy dry cat food you must feed your cat wet food as well. Quality dry cat foods provide a high amount of proteins and if your cat doesn’t drink enough water this could affect its urinary system. This dehydration occurs due to the less carbs being absorbed by your cats intestine so less water is retained. The natural cat diet consists of fresh meat and this is full of water so in order to feed your cat dry food you need to provide this moisture through wet food and water, both, only water is not enough.

So make sure to feed your cat a healthy dry and wet food and provide very clean water at all times.

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 but this can be difficult if you are at work most part of the day and cannot feed your cat manually. If you are a busy person and it’s hard for you to keep up with your cat feeding schedule automatic food dispensers can help you. The advantage of cat feeders is that they automatically measure the portions you program and with 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 in several small portions so your cat blood sugar doesn’t go low, this 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 times a day small amounts but not all of them. The Pet Feedster is one of them and works great. I feed my cat with one. You can check my full review on this website.

In general terms, a cat that weighs about 8-10 lbs should eat approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup dry food a day and 1.5 to 3.0 ounces wet food. These amounts vary depending on how many physical activities you engage your cat or how active is your cat by nature.

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 so engaging your cat with different games it’s the best you can do to 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 10 to 15 minutes, 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 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.

Toy dispensers re-educate your cat eating habits

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 makes 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 even if your cat eats a healthy amount of food from an automatic feeder, he or she can still inhale its food with the consequence of vomiting on the end. Once the automatic feeder dispenses the food sits 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 so you will have to sacrifice this pleasure if you want your cat to lose weight. Eventually when your pet reaches a healthy weight you can reintroduce them slowly, feeding your pet 2 or 3 treats as 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. Nobody knows better than me how much a cat suffers when it’s overweight. Do your best.

 

 

Lorena Avila is a Marketing Engineer, Writer, cat figures collector, cat lover and cat owner as well but above all a very passionate investigator of felines. She started investigating cat products 5 years ago when she couldn't find reliable reviews on the internet to buy an automatic feeder for her own cat and since then she has been helping others providing honest information online.




2 Responses to “How to Help Your Cat Lose Weight”

  1. Dan Wilcox says:

    I don’t think you meant that a cat should eat 20 lbs of food a day!