“Obesity in cats is definitely a growing problem,” says Carolyn McDaniel, VMD, a lecturer in clinical sciences at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.College of Veterinary Medicine
An obese cat is an unhappy cat.
We all love to spoil our cats! Who can say no to those eyes? But obese or overweight cats are at risk of health conditions that in the worst scenario can shorten their lives.
If you are asking yourself how to help cat lose weight, In this article we have shared 12 tried and tested ways you can help your cat lose weight successfully.
Why Is Your Cat Being Overweight Is Not a Good thing?
Just like humans, overweight or obese cats are at a higher risk of developing serious health conditions. As little as 2 extra pounds of weight can put cats at risk of developing medical conditions.
Some of the common health conditions related with overweight or obese cats are:
- Heart Disease
- Diabetes (Particularly Type 2 Diabetes)
- Joint pains and injuries
- High blood pressure
Other reasons for concern if your cat is overweight:
- Shorter lifespan than normal weight cats
- Less energetic and playfulness, interacting less with the family
- Excessive laziness and letharginess
How Much Weight Should Your Cat Loose?
When it comes to cats, Body Condition Scoring is used as a guideline to determine the ideal weight of your cat instead of BMI which is used for humans,
Body Condition Scoring has a scale of 1 to 5 with 3 being the ideal score for cats, meaning the cat is at perfect weight.
Use this scorecard to determine the Body Condition Score of your cat.
Also consult your vet to determine your cat’s body condition as well as to set up a weight loss program.
How Much Should You Feed Your Cat To Help Them Lose Weight?
This will depend on your cat’s condition, age and health but generally an average domestic cat weighs around 8 to 10 pounds (3.6 – 4.4 kg).
Based on how overweight your cat is, your vet might set up an initial weight loss goal to help ease the transition to lower calorie intake per day.
General guidelines on calorie needs based on cat’s weight.
|Weight (lbs)||Calorie Requirements|
You can find the exact calories on the cat food labels. Keeping a close eye on the calories your cat consumes in a day is important for a successful weight loss.
12 Ways You Can Help Your Cat Lose Weight
Below are 12 tried and tested ways you can help your cat lose weight.
1. Let Them Seek Their Food Bowl
Activate your cat’s predator instinct by letting them hunt their food (bowl)!
Place the food bowl in different locations of the house each day so that your cat has to search for it by walking around. This will help them burn off some calories and get some exercise
2. Stop Free Feeding Your Cat
To help your cat lose weight, you must control the calories they consume. That means having set meal times and portions and not leaving food out all the time for your cat to eat.
If you leave food out all the time, your cat can end eating out of boredom or for the sake of eating.
Controlling when and how much they eat will keep them on the weight loss program.
3. Replace High Carb Cat Food With Filler Free Cat Food
A lot of commercial cat food is filled with grains that are considered filler ingredients. These ingredients boost the nutrient profile of the food but don’t provide any nutritional value to cats.
Because of these filler ingredients your cat will get a lot of empty carbs and calories that can lead to weight gain and make your cat obese.
By picking filler free and grain free cat food you will reduce these empty carbs and calories that your cat is getting and help them get nutritionally appropriate food making it efficient and can help cats maintain their ideal weight.
4. Try Out a Treat Toy or Feeding Ball
Make your cats work for a yummy treat! Most cats are happy to put in a bit of effort to get some treats.
Treat toys or feeding balls are great ways for your cat to get some exercise, slow down your cat’s eating and provide mental simulation as well.
Some cats might not be interested in playing games when it comes to their food so you would need to apply other techniques we have mentioned here.
We recommend the Nina Ottosson Cat Treat Puzzle as the best one out there.
5. Feed Smaller Portions Multiple Times a Day
Feeding your cat once or twice a day can lead to overeating as your kitty will be feeling very hungry at feeding time.
Instead give your cat smaller portion meals 4 to 5 times a day so that your cat doesn’t feel so hungry come feeding time.
Feeding multiple times will also cut down on your cat pestering you for food throughout the day.
6. Automatic Feeders For Controlled Portions And Feeding Times
Automatic feeders are a great way to fight cat obesity, Automatic feeders will give your cat food at pre-set times and in controlled quantities every time.
Automatic feeders will help you avoid measuring food every time and you won’t have to worry about missing feeding time.
Your cat will get used to the automatic feeder very quickly and know where to go for food.
We recommend Petlibro Automatic Cat Feeder as the best automatic cat feeder.
7. Switch To Lean Meat Food
If you want your cat to lose weight successfully you will have to change your cat’s food to a high protein and moderate fat food, where the protein is coming from lean meats such as Chicken and Turkey.
Don’t switch your cat’s food overnight but slowly switch it over. Increasing the new food portion a little bit each day, giving your cat time to adjust to the taste and texture of the new food.
We highly recommend Hill’s Science Diet Food for Weight Loss.
Read more on how to successfully switch cat food here.
8. Daily Exercise Through Play Time
Set aside at least 30 minutes of play time every day with your cat. This will help burn calories and also create a stronger bond between you and your kitty.
Use a variety of toys such as laser pointers and vertical climbing surfaces to keep your kitty engaged with play.
When your cat begs for food, engaging them in play and cuddles instead of giving in to their pestering will help them lose weight and not pester you for food.
9. Take Your Cat Out For a Walk
You would be surprised to read this but cats also like to be taken out for walks. It helps them explore the outdoors and breaks the cycle of boredom for them.
Just make sure you use a cat harness instead of a collar. For the first couple of days, let your cat take the lead so that they get used to the feeling. Also, never pull on your cat’s harness!
10. Discourage Meal Sharing If You Have Multiple Cats
If you have multiple cats but want only one of them to lose weight, you will need to separate their food bowls and most probably the feeding times.
Make sure you only give enough food that there are no leftovers for your overweight cat to gobble up the leftovers from the other cat’s food bowl.
Try feeding your cats in separate bowls and emptying out the food bowl after 15-20 minutes. This way the cats will know that they have to eat the food they are presented with or it will disappear.
You can also try feeding them in separate rooms or closing the door of the room while one cat is eating.
Obese cats will most probably be on a special diet which would not be suitable for healthy cats so it is important that they don’t get into each other’s food bowls.
11. Encourage More Water Consumption
Adding water to your cat’s food can make them feel fuller even if they are getting less food.
You can add water to both dry and wet cat food, just make sure not to make it too runny.
Adding water to the food also improves hydration in cats since cats are known for being picky when it comes to drinking water.
12. Try Special Veterinary Weight Loss Diet
Special vet diets are specifically designed to help your cat lose weight. Talk to your vet about the best vet diet for weight loss.
The Bottom Line
All of us find chubby cats cuter but the excessive weight can cause serious health issues.
If you suspect your cat is gaining weight or is a bit too chubby, consult your vet to ensure they are in best health.
Helping a cat lose weight can be a challenging process initially but with the tips we have provided, we are sure you will be able to help your cat lose weight and be in the best shape of their life and keep you company for a long time.
How Quickly Should I Introduce The New Weight Reducing Diet to My Cat?
When changing a cat’s food, you need to do it slowly. Transition the cat to the new food in about 2 weeks time, slowly increasing the amount of new food in their diet to ensure there are no negative effects such as upset stomach and vomiting.
Read more on how to successfully switch cat food here.
What Should I Do if My Cat Pesters Me For Food?
Use an automatic feeder that feeds on pre-set time so that your cat knows the food comes from the feeder and there is no use pestering you for it.
You can also try playing with them when they pester for food, taking them out for a walk and getting them to drink water to get their attention away from food.