If your feline friend is like most of us, the winter months were a time to cuddle up and hunker down. Unfortunately, this is not the best strategy for the waistline! With summer just around the corner, it is a great time to help your hefty housecat get their summer beach body back! Having excess weight can lead to a host of negative health effects including increased risk for liver disease, diabetes, and increased stress on joints and ligaments. Since cats are smaller animals, even a weight loss of 1-2 pounds can make a world of difference for their health.
Here are some tips to help your feline friend get back into tip-top shape:
Exercise: This is key to a healthy lifestyle and since most cats cannot join you on a walk or run, it is important to be creative and finds ways to exercise your cat.
1. Having toys that motivate your cat to play is key. You don’t need to break the bank! Buy a few inexpensive toys that elicit different forms of play. Some cats prefer squeaking noises or bells while other prefer the crinkle of cellophane. Some cats prefer to chase mouse-shaped toys while others like feather wands or some that rotate on a wire wand. Try a few different kinds, once you find some they like, have a few out for them to play at a time and rotate them monthly. They will forget you had them before and they will be just like new to them!
– Reminder: Cats are nocturnal animals so you may need to experiment with exercise during different times of the day. Some cats like to play in the morning while others would prefer right before bedtime.
2. Increasing the amount of vertical space and areas that they can climb can also increase a cat’s caloric burn by giving them more spaces to explore.
3. Placing their daily food amount in multiple different locations can help increase their exercise too.
4. You can also try food puzzles. These are objects that need to be manipulated or navigated for your cat to receive kibble. They are great because they increase their calorie expenditure as well as offering mental stimulation. They can also slow down their eating so they do not fill their stomachs too quickly. There are many commercially available food puzzles or you can make your own at home. A website that can help you get started with food puzzles can be found here: www.foodpuzzlesforcats.com.
Diet: Depending on your cat’s current diet and their overall health, a different food may be beneficial for losing weight. Here are some tips to consider to help regulate your cat’s diet.
1. A different food choice may be appropriate for your cat. Some cats can be switched to a lighter calorie diet that is higher in fiber to help them stay fuller longer with fewer calories. Please make sure to ask your veterinarian first before switching diets.
2. Manipulating your cat’s feeding schedule by taking the total amount of food and splitting it into multiple small meals during the day can help your cat stay fuller throughout the day without increasing the cat’s daily caloric intake.
3. Finally, it is a good idea to measure your cat’s food intake. This helps to determine if your cat is getting the correct number of calories and can help them lose weight or help them maintain their goal weight. A suitable guideline amount can be determined by the type of food and your cat’s weight by consulting the food packaging. Kibble is very energy dense and can appear to be a small amount of food but overfeeding by even a few kibbles can lead to weight gain. If you are feeding both wet and dry food, make sure to adjust the amount of food appropriately by feeding half the recommended amount of wet and half the recommended amount of dry food needed for their weight. This makes sure they are not getting too many calories on a daily basis. Treats should also be factored into their daily calorie consumption. Treats should not make up more than 10% of their daily calorie count.
If you think it’s time that your tubby tabby shed a few pounds, please consult your veterinarian to help make a tailored weight loss plan.
The veterinarians of Calvert Veterinary Center have over 28 years of combined experience helping pets stay healthy and happy. Call today for an appointment at 410-360-PAWS (7297) or schedule online from our website at calvertvet.com. Calvert Veterinary Center is conveniently located at 4100 Mountain Road and has been proudly serving the Pasadena community for over 14 years.