Feline Weight Control
Over 50 percent of cats in the US are overweight or obese. Because we’re so used to seeing overweight pets, this can cause us to overlook our own pets’ weight gain. Cats may look cute when they’re “chubby,” but carrying extra pounds can have serious, long-term consequences for their health. At The Cat Practice in New Orleans, we can provide a customized program to help your feline family member safely shed excess weight and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
What Causes Cats to Become Overweight?
The main culprits responsible for weight gain in cats tend to be:
- Overfeeding: Since your cat doesn’t need to exert themselves to pursue a meal, they can eat just about whenever they want—if you leave food sitting out for them all day. Furthermore, you may be in the habit of giving your cat treats whenever they come up to you and start vocalizing—which can be often. Realize that just because your cat is vocalizing, does not mean they are hungry.
- Carbohydrates: Another problem is the content and quality of your cat’s food. Dry food is high in carbohydrates and low in essential proteins and fats that your cat needs for optimal health. Cats are carnivores and need the proteins and fats that are found in meat.
How Weight Gain Can Harm Your Cat
There are several different ways that being overweight or obese can lower your cat’s quality of life:
- They can become diabetic
- Decreased activity can lead to further weight gain
- They will have difficulty grooming themselves, or may not be able to groom themselves at all, which can result in painful fur mats and skin infections
- They can develop fatty liver syndrome (hepatic lipidosis) and heart disease
- Extra weight puts more strain on your cat’s joints and causes arthritis
Ways to Manage Your Cat’s Weight
Getting your cat to lose weight might seem daunting, but we’re always happy to help. There are many things you can do to help your cat lose their weight safely, including:
- Changing their diet: At The Cat Practice, we offer Hill’s Metabolic Diet food to help cats get the proteins they need in carefully measured portions.
- Increasing their activity: If you recently adopted an overweight cat, consider getting a companion for them to play with. Otherwise, try placing some of their food in special toys that require a little bit of exertion and tap into your cat’s hunting instincts. You should also be playing with your cat for at least 20 minutes each day, if not more. Play offers valuable physical and mental stimulation and keeps them on their toes, both literally and figuratively.
- Fewer handouts: Just because your cat is begging for a treat, does not mean they need it. Resist the temptation and opt for playtime or cuddles instead.