Cats: Living Large

Katrina Scale

Photo courtesy of Megan Mackowiak

Cat’s can be the perfect pet for a busy pet parent: they use a litter box instinctively, groom and clean themselves, and sleep an average of 16 hours a day. It’s true that cats relish their independence, but any cat owner will also tell you that their furry charge shows plenty of affection — especially when they’re hungry.

Because we love to reward our cats — or perhaps because they’re very good at manipulating us — our feline friends tend to be overweight; a survey conducted by The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention  found that 59% of pet cats are obese. That means more than half of all pet cats would benefit from an adjustment to their diet and exercise routine!

Here are a few tips for slimming down your feline friend:

Make them work

Treat balls or puzzle dishes require your cat to use their wits in order to eat. Not only is this mentally stimulating, it will slow your cat’s eating which allows them to feel full. Blum Animal Hospital recommends the PetSafe Egg-Cersizer and the NoBowl Feeding System, which are available at our hospital!

Choose the right diet

Feline diets are typically separated by both life stage (kitten, adult, senior) and activity level (indoor, outdoor). Kitten and senior diets are usually higher in calories than adult foods; likewise, outdoor formulas are higher in calories than indoor formulas. Check the label on your cat’s food and consult your veterinarian to ensure that your cat’s current diet is appropriate for its activity level and lifestage.

Fill them up!

Does your cat have a seemingly bottomless stomach? Will it eat anything you put down and ask for more? Consider switching to a diet specially-formulated to make your cat feel fuller while still achieving weight loss goals. Blum Animal Hospital carries two such prescriptions: Royal Canin Satiety Formula and Hill’s Metabolic Weight Management Formula. Ask your veterinarian if one of these foods will work for your cat!

Change gradually

However you choose to slim down your pet cat, remember to institute change gradually. Sudden weight loss in felines can precipitate fatty liver syndrome (hepatic lipidosis), which can cause liver damage or liver failure. As a general rule, cats should not lose more than .5% to 2% of their body weight per week. Before starting a new diet or exercise routine, please consult your veterinarian on how much weight loss is appropriate for your cat’s health.

…and remember to have fun

While there are a lot of play-alone cat toys on the market, there is no substitute for quality-time. Playing with a variety of toys not only encourages them to exercise, but strengthens the bond between you and your cat. It’s also a lot of fun!

 

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jonathan Covert