You’ve heard about the human obesity epidemic and it’s time to talk about feline obesity. Indoor cats are much more likely to be overweight than their outdoor cousins, and with most of our patients living in small apartments, we see A LOT of fat cats.
We also live with them–and know just how hard it can be to get them to slim down! Below are our top tips for helping get your chubby kitty down to a healthy weight.
- Choose the right food — choosing a food with the right calorie density and enough fiber to keep your cat full will make portioning much easier, and allow for the occasional treat, too. This is the same as if we chose to eat salads instead of cookies when on a diet.
- Many food brands offer a “weight management”, “healthy weight”, or “reduced calorie” option for cats; try switching to this version to reduce calorie intake
- Some cats benefit from a prescription weight loss diet, with more restricted calories than over the counter options . The benefits of these diets include being able to feed larger portions without increasing calories (especially helpful for destructive cats!)
- Try canned food instead of dry — the same calories come in a larger volume in canned food, helping keep your cat satiated longer
- Feed the right portion — an appropriate portion for the average indoor cat would be 1/4 cup dry food or 3 oz canned food, fed twice a day. Obviously there is a range around this number, but it’s a good starting point
- Be sure to make any portion reductions GRADUALLY. Cats don’t do well on a crash diet (it can cause liver disease), so don’t cut back by more than 10% per week
- If your cat free feeds over the day, measure how much food you add to the bowl over 4 days. Then measure how much is left at the end of this time, and divide the difference by the 4. This will give you the average amount your cat eats each day. Divide this amount into a breakfast and dinner portion, and go from there
- Keep your cat busy — lower activity is the source of many indoor cat’s obesity, and a cat with time on her hands and an empty belly on her new diet is going to make her complaints heard.
- Play time — dedicate 5 minutes twice a day to play with you cat. Have her chase a toy or string, or provide toys she likes to wrestle with.
- Add a bird feeder to your window — there are lots of clear bird feeders you can place on the outside of apartment windows to create a “cat TV” sure to keep you tabby occupied!
- Place food in food-dispensing toys instead of into a bowl. This will slow down eating AND increase activity to double the benefit!
- Seek help — it’s not easy to get your cat to lose weight! If you are doing the things above and your cat just isn’t losing weight, or if you feel like he is losing too much, ask for help! We’re always happy to help our patients on the road to healthy weights.
Uptown Vets – 295 West 112th St, New York, NY
(212) 222-1221 – firstname.lastname@example.org