If your cat is overweight, you can take some solace in knowing you’re very much not alone. According to a recent study by animal nutritionist Linda P. Case, about half of all house cats in America are overweight. The main causes of this are (1) sedentary lifestyles and (2) bad dietary habits, problems that plague many people in America as well. The good news is that, just like people, cats lose weight via two simple practices: eating better and exercising more. Switching to a healthy cat food diet and increasing the amount of playtime you have with your cat will help them lose weight and live longer lives. Here are a few tips to help make your cat’s weight loss process easier.
Many of us find it easier to bond with our cats through treats than through play, but making treat time a regular habit can worsen your cat’s weight problem. Instead of giving treats, make an effort to spend more time playing. Playtime helps you bond with your cat, and it gives them a workout that reduces their stress levels. Stress in cats, as in humans, has been shown to contribute to weight gain. Things you can do to make playtime more enjoyable include:
Trying new toys – If your cat isn’t interested in the grey mouse toy you bought them, try different toys: bird-, snake-, squirrel-shaped toys, etc. And pick bright ones, as cats are natural hunters and enjoy chasing after bright prey.
Using catnip or honeysuckle to entice your cat– Catnip and honeysuckle contain scent particles that the majority of cats find highly attractive. Attach a piece of catnip or honeysuckle to your cat’s favorite toy to increase your cat’s interest in playtime.
Setting up hunting games –Using the above-mentioned catnip/honeysuckle technique, hide scented toys for your cat to “hunt” around the house, making sure to place them in high places that will force your cat to do some climbing and leaping.
Creating more vertical spaces around the house –Cats like to climb to high places where they can feel safe. Giving them multiple perching spots to climb to will not only increase their physical activity, but will reduce their stress if they live in a multi-cat household. More perches means less fighting for territory means less stress.
Experts recommend that overweight cats slim down at a rate of 3% – 4% of their total body weight per month, which entails feeding them 60% – 70% less calories than their current intake. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure your cat loses weight in a healthy manner.
Feed them more frequently and measure their meals– Find out from your vet the exact amount of daily kilocalories your cat needs, and use the feeding guidelines on the cat food container to measure the exact amount of food that will give them the recommended amount of kilocals per day. Divide that amount into several small meals throughout the day, and use a measuring cup to avoid over-feeding.
Feed them meat-based, cat food –Cats are carnivores that need certain nutrients which they only get from meat. Feeding them food whose main source of protein is natural, meat helps them prevent weight gain.
Increase their portions of canned cat food and raw, all natural cat food – Because most canned cat food is made of 78% water, it helps cats feel fuller for longer. Canned and raw foods are also low on calories and high on meat protein.
Feed them properly formulated, fiber-rich food– When it comes to your cat’s health, it’s worth investing in high quality cat food that contains high levels of nutrients and low levels of calories and fat. Fiber-rich, premium cat food helps cats lose weight because eating fiber also makes cats feel fuller for longer.
On a final note, if you live in a multi-cat household, set up multiple eating areas. Cats are territorial and will fight over both space and food. Giving them multiple spots to feed will reduce fighting and relieve them of unnecessary stress, which, again, is a huge contributor to weight gain in both cats and humans.