How can I help my cat lose weight?
Last week we began a discussion on obesity in cats. In general, feline obesity is common, and can result in a shortened life expectancy.
1. Keep up the exercise. Cats can be encouraged to play throughout their lives. Examples of exercise for cats include, playing “Find the Food”, move the food bowl upstairs or downstairs and rotate it so that the cat always has to walk to get to its food bowl. Look for cat “puzzle” toys where you can hide their entire meal inside so that they must play to release kibble to eat! Utilize feather toys, flashlights, laser pens, paper bags or balls, anything that your cat finds interesting to chase. Try to engage your cat for ten minutes twice a day.
2. Cats are true carnivores and need a higher level of protein in their diet. Dry food tends to have more carbohydrates than wet food. So feeding predominately a wet food diet which has more protein, may have an advantage (so long as you control the portion sizes).
3. Watch the calories. A typical 8 pound cat really only needs about 150 to 170 calories per day or one six oz can per day. Feed small meals frequently. Divide the total volume or calories into four to six smaller meals.
4. There are diet foods made for cats. There are now many types of “prescription” diet foods available that surpass the typical “light” formula that you may find in the pet store. At our practice, we primarily use two foods made by Hill’s Science Diet. R/D is low-calorie, high fiber food. M/D is a very high protein diet, but must be fed in fairly small portions. This food can increase your cats metabolism & the high protein levels can help a cat to feel more satisfied, despite the smaller portions.
5. Rechecks and weigh-ins. After you have put your cat on a weight loss program, it is critical that you determine if it is working for your cat. Each cat is different and may require many changes in diet or routine. In general, your cat should be weighed every month until the ideal weight is achieved. Typically your cat should lose about one pound per month. Work closely and actively with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet safely achieves his or her weight loss goals.
Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.