Obesity in cats is an increasingly common concern and can lead to other serious health issues such as heart disease, ruptured ligaments, respiratory compromise, tiredness, diabetes, greater susceptibility to certain types of liver disease, and osteoarthritis. If you’ve got a fat cat, ask one of our team members about a diet and exercise program tailored to your pet. The easiest way to deal with feline obesity is to prevent it.
Is my cat fat?
The average domestic shorthaired cat should weigh 8 to 10 pounds (3.6 to 4.5 kg), though some individual and breed variation is to be expected. Here’s how to tell if your cat is fat:
- If you put a hand on either side of your cat and firmly stroke his sides, you should be able to feel the ribs. This indicates that your cat is probably a proper weight. If you can’t feel the ribs, your cat is overweight. (If you can see the ribs, your cat is underweight.)
- If you stand above your cat and look down at him or her, your cat’s waistline should be detectable as a slight indentation just behind the ribs.
- A swinging pouch between your cat’s hind legs is a sign that your cat is overweight.
- Your cat’s anal area should look clean. Some obese cats have trouble grooming this area.
- A greasy patch, matting of fur, or flaking of skin down the midline of a cat’s lower back can also indicate obesity. His inability to reach this area (a part of normal grooming) due to his obesity is a sure sign that things need to change.
- If a cat snores or wheezes, it could be a sign of obesity.
How can my cat lose weight? Weight loss tips?
A weight-loss program designed by one of our veterinarians in conjunction with regular follow up by our animal health technologists is the ideal approach to weight loss in your cat. Typically, this weight loss is achieved via a two-pronged approach: diet and exercise.
It is critical that you consult a veterinarian before significantly changing your cat’s eating and exercise habits. When helping your cat lose weight, slower is safer. Crash diets are not appropriate. When on a weight-loss program, your cat should lose approximately 1 pound per month.
The most effective weight-loss plans involve increasing activity and feeding fewer calories. There are several dietary strategies for helping your cat lose weight.
- Feeding your cat the same amount of food delivered in smaller meals more often.
- Feeding your cat less of his/her regular food per day is almost always a fruitful endeavor, weight loss-wise. A veterinarian should always be involved in helping an owner determine how significant a percentage decrease in calories is appropriate.
Instead of feeding your cat less, gradually switching him/her to a low-calorie food can help. The change should be gradual and sudden switch could upset your cat’s stomach. We have many options available to ensure your cat’s nutritional requirements are taken care of.
- Set up multiple feeding stations around your home. Rotating where you feed your cat can encourage searching and mimic hunting behaviour.
- Puzzle boxes and toys that dispense food can keep your cat engaged and provide exercise while feeding. Something as simple as tossing kibbles for you cat to chase can become part of the feeding ritual.
- Instead of feeding your cat less, gradually switching him/her to a low-calorie food can help. The change should be gradual and sudden switch could upset your cat’s stomach. We have many options available to ensure your cat’s nutritional requirements are taken care of.
- In multi-cat homes, special enclosed feeding chambers that open by microchip or collar triggers, allow the target cat to be fed while preventing other cats from stealing the food. Centennial Animal hospital does have a model that can be used by clients to test before investing in a purchase.
- Unless specifically recommended by a veterinarian, feeding table scraps is not recommended.
- Feline-formulated treats should be offered only on special occasions unless they are being administered to meet certain therapeutic goals (e.g., for tartar control or for administering medications). If treats must be given, don’t forget to include these calories when counting how many calories your cat should get each day.
- Recent reports have suggested that wet or moistened diets may be healthier for cats but check with one of our veterinarians about the best strategy for your cat and your lifestyle.
- Cats may be encouraged to become more active and lose weight if owners schedule regular playtimes. Here are some calorie-burning activities for cats:
- Chasing (e.g., use string, sticks with attached feathers, balls, or laser pointers [never point these at an animal’s or person’s eyes])
- Climbing a cat tree
- Scratching on posts or pads
- Playing with other pets
- Performing tricks for low-calorie treats (e.g., train your cat to run to you from across the house or climb a cat “tree” when you shake the treat container)
- Trying to remove kibbles from specially designed activity toys
What is offered in nutritional consultation?
Any of our veterinarians would be happy to discuss diet and weight concerns in an appointment with you. We also have two animal health technicians (Colin and Michelle) on staff who have a special interest in weight loss and would be happy to assist you.