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8 Tips to Help Your Fat Cat Lose Weight

8 Tips to Help Your Fat Cat Lose Weight

Are you living with a fat cat? According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (yeah, that’s really a thing) 57.6 percent of cats are obese. In many cases the difference between healthy weight and obesity can be just two or three pounds.

That amount of extra weight might not be a big deal for humans, but on a cat, it can be devastating. Chronic feline obesity can lead to osteoarthritis, insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, and even cancer. On average, it shortens a cat’s life by about 2.5 years.

So if you want to keep Fluffy around for as long as possible (and would rather not deal with astronomical vet bills down the road) establishing a weight loss plan is mandatory. But you can’t just take her along to the gym, can you? Try these proven strategies instead.

8 Tips to Help Your Fat Cat Lose Weight

1. Know the signs (and ask your vet)

Before taking any action, you need to know if your cat is really overweight (and if he is, by how much). Different breeds have different ideal weights, but the average cat should be between 8 and 10 pounds. Even just two pounds over can be a health risk. The best authority on your cat’s particular weight requirement is a vet, but there are some tell tale signs you can look for, such as: not being able to feel the ribs or backbone, or a rounded/bulging/sagging abdomen.

2. Drop the dry food (and double check the wet)

Just like humans, cats typically eat too many empty carbs and not enough protein. The culprit is cheap dry cat food that’s basically just a big sack of cornmeal. Cats are predators, not grazers. They were not meant to eat grain. Sometimes just dropping the dry food and supplementing with canned wet food can be enough to jump-start weight loss. But be aware that cheap cat food can come with just as many fillers. Look for high protein and moisture content made with low-carb meats, like turkey.

3. Stop free feeding

Yes, it’s easy to just fill the food bowl with kibble, and refill when it gets low. Unfortunately, free feeding is completely opposite of the way your cat’s body and metabolism were designed to operate. Given the opportunity, cats will eat constantly, regardless of hunger. Rather than free feeding, plan to put food out at 3 to 4 set meal times throughout the day.

4. Weather the whine

If your cat has been free feeding for a long time, he’s not going to like seeing an empty bowl. Rest assured, he’ll let you know. Be prepared for extra meowing, leg rubbing and galloping to the food bowl any time you walk in that direction. The urge to give in to his crying eyes will be difficult to ignore, but you must be strong! You might also find it helpful to divide up the day’s ration ahead of time, so that you give exactly the right amount at each feeding, and are sure when the day’s meals are done. This article has a handy equation to help determine your cat’s individual caloric needs.

5. Stop giving treats

This one should be obvious. Many cat treats are nothing but empty calories. Keep in mind that cats equate food with affection, and distract him with a good scratch or a few minutes of play instead. If you insist on giving treats, try tossing them to your kitty one at a time, or hiding them on top of her climbing tower, so calories must be expended to retrieve it.

6. Aim for 20 a day

Not treats, of course, but minutes of play. Toys that can be batted around or chased (like balls, cat nip-filled toys, and laser pointers) tap into your cat’s natural ability to stalk and capture prey. But you don’t need pricey toys to keep kitty entertained. Check out these 10 Easy Ways to Play with Your Cat.

7. Keep ‘em guessing

Another clever way to increase calorie expenditure is to move the bowl to a new location. Moving the food bowl to new locations in the house, such as upstairs or downstairs, means your cat willl have to walk to get to her food bowl. Of course, she’ll soon become used to the new location, so rotate it every few days. You can also try special “feeding balls” that require your cat to roll them around in order to get pieces of food as a “reward.”

8. L-Caratine supplements

When it comes to weight loss, it’s always better to keep it simple. Calories in must be fewer than calories out. But sometimes an extra boost is in order. “L-Caratine is an amino acid that helps the liver transform fat reserves into glucose,” explains Pawnation. “With your vet’s approval, supplementing your cat’s diet with L-Caratine can help kickstart weight loss in an obese feline and keep it healthy throughout its dietary journey.”

What tips do you have for feline weight loss? Share them in a comment!

Related:
Dangers of Pet Obesity
How to Make Your Own Cat Food

Read more: Cats, Pet Health, Pets, , , , , , , ,

Image via Thinkstock

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Beth Buczynski

Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog or check out her blog.

115 comments

+ add your own
4:07PM PDT on Jul 28, 2014

If you have a fat pet, you are not getting enough exercise.

4:58PM PDT on Jul 27, 2014

If you have a fat pet, you are not getting enough exercise.

6:03AM PDT on May 15, 2014

No human food, cut back on the treats and more play time . Thanks for the article !

4:31PM PDT on May 14, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

10:43PM PDT on May 11, 2014

Go for a walk around the lounge, and ease up on the lounging puss!

12:28AM PDT on May 4, 2014

Thanks

5:09AM PDT on May 2, 2014

Only human food my girl gets is a little cheese.

5:08AM PDT on May 2, 2014

Thanks my girl does not need to lose weight.

7:27PM PDT on May 1, 2014

Thank you!

2:22PM PDT on May 1, 2014

I totally needed these tips for my super chunky mini dachshund! We took her off dry food about a year ago and that helped, but we're going to have to weave in more fresh meat and playtime for sure.

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