Fat cats are cute... there.. I said it. I feel so much better. But despite their adorableness, excess weight can cause a whole host of problems for your furry little friend. That said, it's important to know how to slim down an overweight cat. There are plenty of things you can do to help your kitty achieve his ideal weight; however, some are easier than others, as cats can be both impossibly smart and incredibly stubborn. So today we will discuss a few things you can do to easily help your kitty shed those pounds.
An Important Visit
First things first, if you haven't already, it's a good idea to take a trip to the vet. Weight issues are frequently a simple matter of overeating. In some instances, though, it can be a symptom of an underlying problem – especially if the gain was sudden. If nothing else, this visit will help you establish just how much weight needs to be lost. Furthermore, your veterinarian will likely outline a plan for getting your kitty in shape.
All About Food
Though you should definitely stick to your vet's advice, there are plenty of important points you should keep in mind when learning how to slim down an overweight cat.
- Dry foods are often shockingly high in calories, some going up to around 400 calories per cup. This may not sound like much to you, but the calorie requirement for an average 10 pound indoor cat is around 200 calories per day. Wet food, on the other hand, typically has fewer calories, but is also quite high in protein. If you like the convenience of cat kibble or if your kitty prefers the dry stuff, Debbie Short from KittyWire says, "Dry foods are very high on calories, but if you lessen free feeding and balance their food with some playtime exercise it should be okay."
- Cats are impossibly finicky – this is probably not news to you. However, you may or may not have noticed that a lot of cats will go on something akin to a hunger strike if they don't like their food. That being said, it is very important to ensure that your cat is getting in some food, even if it's smaller servings of their regular meals. This is due largely to the fact that the rapid weight loss that would come about due to starvation can cause many potentially fatal issues, such as fatty liver syndrome, hypoglycemia, and inflammatory issues in their lungs and joints.
- If you're finding that the diet food just isn't cutting it, and your cat simply isn't satisfied with smaller portions, there are some tricks to combat complaints. For example, adding a bit of warm water to raw or wet food increases volume without increasing calories. Furthermore, it aids in hydration, which is never a bad thing!
- When restricting calories, many cats will start to gobble their food. The biggest problem with this is that it can result in vomiting and general stomach upset. Thankfully, this can be remedied fairly easily. One simple method is to separate food into smaller portions, then place those portions into the holes of mini muffin tins. Sounds crazy, but what this does is ensure that your cat will have to take a few moments to move on to the next hole, rather than lapping it all up in a bite or two.
- If your kitty is still too speedy for a muffin tin, there are plenty of slow feeder bowls on the market. The upside to this is that many of these bowls have a playful, interactive element, which helps your cat get in a little more exercise.
- In the same vein as feeder bowls, there are also a good deal of treat toys and puzzles available. In many cases, these toys are fairly simple and teach your cat that if they chase or smack at the toy, they will be rewarded with their favorite treat. Again, the benefit of these toys is that they not only help to restrict calories, but also encourage physical activity.
Time to Play
Food is only half the battle when you want to slim down your overweight cat. Cats have a reputation for being incredibly busy creatures. But let's face it, some of them would really rather just hang out on the couch and be left alone. Furthermore, if your kitty is dealing with a weight issue, things like sore joints and lethargy can present an even larger problem.
As with people, it never hurts to start slowly. If your cat isn't already an active creature, you can't expect him to jump up at the first laser pointer you flick around the room. Start with treat balls, so as to incentivize the whole playtime experience. Then maybe move on to teasing him with feather toys. In no time at all, you'll have your cat chasing your tail teaser around the room! If your buddy doesn't have mobility issues, you might also try a multi-leveled cat tree to encourage play. Food motivated cats will happily climb up and down the different levels to reach their well-earned snack.
Knowing how to slim down an overweight cat is one thing, but putting these steps into action is quite another. A lot of owners tend to bend when they feel like their cat is unhappy. And believe me, your cat will think he's being absolutely punished for no reason. But it is important to remain consistent, stick to your plan, and show your cat all sorts of love during this tricky process.
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