FELINE OBESITY – A Growing Problem
Not only is human obesity on the rise and so is the obesity of our favorite little furry friends. Firstly, it is important that you seek veterinarian advice if you do think that your cat’s recent weight gain might not be related to their food intake, if their behavior has changed or if they are/ have been on long term medication.
Feline obesity is technically a weight gain of over 20% of their healthy previous body weight. Obviously weighing your cat can be a challenge. So if your cat likes to wiggle and squirm like mine, then a simple trick is to weigh yourself. Then hold your cat and weigh yourself again then deduct your actual weight from the final figure and voila you have your cats weight. If you have noticed that your cat has been eating more than normal, then smaller more frequent meals may be the way to go.
Most cat owners feed their cats twice daily in two reasonable portions. If you break this down to three or four smaller portions they are still having the same amount of food, but they find it easier to burn off the excessive calories between portions. If this tip doesn’t work then try feeding 10-20% less than you normally would. Additionally provide them with a constant supply of fresh water.
Diet is a common reason why cats become overweight. Cats are very clever and are brilliant at getting their owners to feed them twice. My cat had an exceptional habit of getting me to feed him twice in the morning. Once when my partner woke up at 6 am, then again when I woke up at 7 am. It was amazingly clever so I couldn’t even be annoyed. But aside from excessive over eating and snacking, it’s important to read the back of their food packaging and see what a normal portion size is! This is very important as many dried cat foods vary the portion sizes so you might need half a cup of one brand and 2/3 of a cup for another brand. If you are struggling with your own personal cat self control (feeding wise) then perhaps using a serving sized wet food option is a good idea. At least it keeps you honest and you know that one can/ container is equal to one portion, so it also makes it easier to feed them half portions.
Exercise for cats is a bit tricky. Cats are not the type of pet that you can always take for a walk, but you can play with them. Playing with your cat just 40 minutes per day not only increased they heart health and helps them loose weight, but it’s also therapeutic for your own mental health and gives you a little time to spend with your cat to help the bonding process.
Aside from exercise and diet, another little tip is to use a little bit of cat milk to fill them up if they are getting hungry more regularly. You do need to keep this in mind when you are feeding them, but using a quarter cup of cat milk often will satisfy their craving (for a few calories and some affection) while not actually feeding them.
It’s important that you keep an eye on your cats’ weight to ensure they aren’t putting excessive pressure on their heart. I personally weigh my cat every couple of months or more frequently if he has looked like he has gained weight. Also using a whiteboard on your fridge is useful to prevent double feeding (like my naughty cat) and remember that cats do need some cardiovascular exercise daily. Playing with your cat can be as simple as running with a ribbon, throwing a golf ball or as elaborate as taking them for a walk. Find something they enjoy and try to do it frequently.