Wight Reduction in Cats

Weight loss can be challenging for anyone – two- or four-legged! However, losing weight and getting in shape can add not only years to you or your pet’s life; it can also make those extra years more enjoyable.

Helping your cat attain a healthy weight may be easier than you think. It simply requires understanding the need for weight loss and fitness, attention to details and guidance and assistance from your veterinary healthcare team.

Why a Healthy Weight is Important for your Cat?

As little as two pounds above your cat’s ideal weight can put it at risk for developing some serious medical conditions. Unfortunately, when a cat is overweight or has obesity it no longer it is at great risk for developing a secondary condition. Some of the common feline weight-related disorders include:

· Type 2 diabetes – a cat with obesity is at least three times more likely to develop than serious disease as a cat of healthy weight

· Kidney disease

· Chronic inflammation

· Heart disease

· Osteoarthritis

· High blood pressure

· Many forms of cancer – especially intra-abdominal cancers

Further, overweight felines and cats with obesity are expected to live shorter lives than their normal weight counterparts. Cats with obesity tend to physically interact less with their families and are often less energetic and playful. We are just beginning to understand how serious and threatening extra adipose tissue can be for both humans and pets.

The Art of Changing Diet

When you are introducing a new diet to your cat, allow several days for the transition. In general, we recommend gradually adding the new diet over a one-to-two-week period. Start by substituting one-quarter of the diet for two to three days, then increase to one-half total volume of food for another two to four days, then three-quarter new food for a final three to five days before completely switching to the new diet.

Creative Exercise

In an ideal world, we’d take a jog with our cats or enjoy a mile swim in the morning to stay fit. We certainly don’t live in that world! Getting cats to engage in slow, long-duration aerobic activity isn’t just difficult – it goes against their biology. Cats weren’t designed to function as scavengers and persistence hunters the way humans and dogs evolved. Instead, cats evolved as predators and stalkers who expended very little energy seeking their prey and seldom strayed far from their territory.

Our domestic cats are very similar to these wild felines. While our dogs may enjoy a brisk walk or jog, our cats aren’t designed for that sort of activity. Our cats prefer the hundred-yard dash to the marathon. Even more complicating is the fact that cats evolved on a diet based on protein as opposed to humans and dogs that can eat a wide variety of vegetables, proteins, and fats. Since cats are obligate carnivores, the same dietary rules don’t apply. Many cats will do better on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet for weight loss for this reason.

Just because cats aren’t good endurance athletes doesn’t mean we shouldn’t encourage physical activity. Some simple tips for getting your cat to move more are:

· Play “Find the Food”- Move the food bowl upstairs or downstairs and rotate it so that the cat always has to walk to get to its food bowl. Cats are smart, and if the food bowl moves upstairs, they’ll start relocating upstairs, too.

· Move the food bowl as far away from your cat’s favorite areas as possible.

· Use feather toys, flashlights, boxes, paper bags or balls (Cat tree may be the better choice!), anything that your cat finds interesting to chase. Try to engage your cat for ten minutes twice a day. You can do this while you eat, watch television, or even read. There are numerous toys that move and squeak that may also be interesting to your cat. Experiment and understand that what is exciting today may be boring tomorrow.

Exercise is important to keep your cat healthy, but just remember to start in small doses. When we first got Bronson, he would quickly tire out when playing with toys, but when anything with food was involved, he’d push through. Make sure to give your cat a break if they start panting or sticking their tongue out.

We’ve put a blog together showing some method that worked really well for keeping Bronson active throughout the day.