Educational Resources

Tips For Getting Cats To A Healthy Weight

Is your cat fit or fat?

First, if you are leaving a bowl of dry food out for the kitty to snack on all day, his or her weight will almost always increase and can often result in obesity. Most cats, if given free access to food, will overeat. If your cat is eating more than ½ cup of dry food per day, it is probably too much, regardless of the label instructions. When we freely feed cats, we also eliminate their predatory drive, which ultimately results in inactivity and weight gain.

If we can mimic a natural feeding pattern, the result is usually a fitter, more active, and healthier cat. To do this, we feed a high-protein, high-moisture diet in the form of canned food. Feeding dry food, high in carbohydrates and very palatable, results in excess adipose tissue and overconsumption. Canned food is hard to overfeed, and it gives a better sense of fullness. Most cats, if fed only canned food, should eat about 5–6 ounces per day, divided into 2 or 3 meals. Weight loss should not exceed 10% of body weight per month.

Another important tip for a feline weight loss program is to adjust our thinking about our cat's hunger. It's easy to interpret constant meowing, visits to the kitchen, and pouncing on the bed early in the morning as signs that a cat is starving. Think about this, though: in the wild, a cat seeking food will only succeed 5-10% of the time. If we feed our cats every time they engage in predatory behavior, we end up feeding them in excess. The drive to hunt is relentless, but the physical need for calories is not.

Evaluation of your cat's weight and diet is part of the annual wellness visit.  If you have a senior cat (i.e. 10 years or older), annual laboratory testing may reveal metabolic conditions that will require a carefully tailored approach to his or her feeding. Taking a modern approach to nutrition is extremely important to us at Cats Exclusive, and we provide detailed information about types and amounts of food for weight management, educate about proper rates of weight loss, and offer courtesy weight check appointments for established patients.

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