You love your cat and would like it to live forever, but just like with us humans, what cats consume today has long-term, and sometimes irreversible effects on their life span.
Obesity in cats can lead to Diabetes, Arthritis/lameness, Skin problems, Shortened life span, High blood pressure, Breathing difficulty, Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), Urinary tract disease, Greater surgical risk, Decreased immune function and more.
Do I have your attention to the importance of maintaining a healthy weig
ht in your cat?
What is the ideal weight for your cat?
Generally, cats are healthy at about 10 pounds, but of course breed, skeletal frame, etc. all play a part in what is a good body score for your cat. Here is a link to a Healthy Weight Calculator: https://www.petmd.com/healthyweight
What causes obesity in cats?
Diseases, such as hypothyroid, Cushings, injuries, etc. and can alter your cat's ability regulate energy intake and use
Predisposition (genetics) can be a factor
Eating out of boredom
Poor quality or fatty foods
Self-feeding (getting into garbage, food bags, compost, hunting, etc) in addition to meals
Eats beyond energy needs (no internal shut off for eating)
Lack of exercise
Improper food preparation and measurement
What you can do to help your cat:
Educate yourself on cat food label reading – there are many posts about this in the nutrition section of this blog.
Feed less dry food; switch to wet foods or even homemade diets. There are 2 main reasons I recommend staying away from dry kibble: the cat’s cecum is very small and therefore they are unable to digest and absorb plant matter and cats do not have the enzyme, amylase to digest carbohydrates. Cats need an energy source derived from protein and fat. Also, just like with people, an excess of carbs in their diet can lead to obesity. Most dry food contains between 30% and 70% carbohydrates, which is another reason (in addition to it causing dehydration) I believe canned food should be fed primarily. Alter type or amount of food fed to gradually bring weight down.
Offer more, smaller feedings - While free feeding (particularly high-carb foods) may lead to hyperactivity and obesity, once-a-day feedings for cats can contribute to aggression, stress, anxiousness and irritability in response to a drop in blood glucose. To avoid this, a properly-sized ration can be divided into smaller portions fed three-to-four times daily. If possible, caching, hiding, or enclosing your pet’s food in a food-dispending treat is a great way to keep them mentally and physically occupied while satisfying some of their animal feeding instincts. (See food puzzle below and in the enrichment section of this blog.)
Change treats to lean protein (freeze dried chicken)
Increase your cat’s activity level to increase calories expended (since food is simply provided for and not hunted). Some ways to increase activity: more interactive play with wand toys, throwing balls, lasers, harness/leash walks, catio (outdoor, enclosed play area for your cat), exercise equipment (wheels, etc.)
Puzzle feeders slow down intake and reduce obesity – I sell three of the best on the store section of this site – Found here: https://www.catbehaviorsolutions.org/shop
Find alternatives (other than food) to bonding with your cat – such as play or better quality treats.