Just like people, our feline friends can suffer from the battle of the bulge. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 59% of cats are overweight. That’s a big percentage! And, cats that are overweight are more susceptible to diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and kidney and heart disease. So, how did this happen!
Well, there are a number of reasons. Just like us, overeating and a lack of exercise plays a big part. But first, how can you tell if kitty is indeed overweight? Cats should have an hourglass shape to their body and you should be able to feel their ribs. If you believe your cat is overweight, he should be checked out by a veterinarian to rule out any medical issues.
If kitty is healthy, other than being a little portly, start with his food. Are you giving him too much? Is it too high in carbs? Don’t free feed, but instead, measure out the food and feed in two to four portions per day. Speaking of portions, don’t rely solely on the recommended portion size as indicated on the bag. According to PetMD, the portion size on the bag isn’t always correct and can result in overfeeding. Instead, adjust the amount of food based on the cat’s body character and activity level. Also, be mindful of how many treats you give out. Treats are often high in calories.
You should also pay attention to the type of food you are feeding kitty. The ideal cat diet is high in protein with a moderate amount of fat and low carbohydrates. The amount of carbs is especially important because cats were not intended to be carb consumers and cannot handle large amounts of carbs efficiently. If you choose to put kitty on a diet, do so slowly. Dieting too fast could cause Hepatic Lipidosis, a potentially fatal disorder.
As mentioned before, lack of exercise also plays a part in becoming overweight. To get kitty moving, encourage playtime with his favorite toy. (In my house, a paper ball thrown down the hallway is always a big hit!) Buy stimulating toys. Cats that are bored or do not get enough mental stimulation may eat more out of boredom. If you only have one cat, consider adopting a friend. A buddy for your cat will definitely encourage playtime.
With a little bit of effort, kitty can get back on track to a leaner, healthier life.