Almost half of all cats in the UK are said to be overweight. Maintaining a healthy weight for your cat not only ensures that they lead a healthy life, but can also reduce pressure on their joints and aid mobility as they age.
Understanding your cat’s nutritional and exercise needs can make sure that they stay healthy and happy. Monitoring their weight and body condition and looking out for any changes can be key to their quality of life.
Common health problems associated with cat obesity include:
- Lameness and joint stiffness.
- Diabetes mellitus.
- Exercise intolerance and overheating.
- Increased anesthetic and surgical risks.
It can be tricky as a cat owner to manage and maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine. Here are some positive things you can do to help maintain your cat’s healthy weight:
Understand what a healthy cat should look like
A healthy cat should only have a small amount of fat on its tummy and a visible waist. You should be able to feel your cat’s ribs but not see them. If you are unsure about checking your own cat, your vet will be able to help.
Regular vet visits
If you think your cat is overweight be sure to consult your vet. They will be able to check and assess your cat’s body condition and advise on the best course of action to reduce any unwanted weight and monitor them. Regular weigh in visits will also offer an opportunity for your vet to check their overall health.
Your cat’s diet can depend on their breed and age, as some cats will need fewer calories than others. Many cats will not stop eating when they have had enough, so it’s important to moderate their food by measuring their portions. If you feed your cat dry food, try not to constantly top up their bowl, as dry food can contain more calories than wet food. If your cat eats a combination of wet and dry food, make sure that the amount of calories from both does not exceed their recommended allowance. Always consult your vet before starting a new diet routine for your cat.
Occasional treats should come from their daily calorie allowance and human food should be avoided altogether. Human food can be very calorie rich for your cat. For example, one small cube of cheese can be the equivalent to a human eating 10 cubes.
Keep your cat active
Exercise is an integral part of keeping your cat healthy and trim. To ensure your cat has plenty of exercise, take time to play with your cat for around 5-10 minutes several times a day, which can make a big difference. Indoor cats can be more of a challenge, so use their favourite toys to keep them interested in play for longer.
Multiple cat homes
If you have more than one cat, feed them separately. This will prevent one or both stealing leftovers and eating more than they should.
Don’t starve you cat
Don’t put your cat on a crash diet or starve them, as you could be denying your cat the right balance of essential minerals and vitamins. Your cat’s weight loss should be gradual over time and be sure to follow your vet’s advice.
To help your cat maintain a healthy weight speak to your vet, who will be able to advise the best course of action and provide support during any weight loss or exercise programme.