It's undeniable that cats are cute - even when they have a little extra weight on them. However, that little bit of excess weight can be detrimental to their health and lead to problems later down the line.
Obesity in cats is a considerable risk factor for health problems such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, inflammation, and even a shortened lifespan. If your cat is young and energetic despite being overweight, you might think that your cat isn't at risk for these ailments. Yet, being overweight or obese can cause problems even in the short term.
For example, if your cat is obese, you may notice skin problems and mats in their fur due to being unable to reach parts of their body while grooming.
You may also notice that they don't have the stamina to play like they should and may struggle to get around.
If you find that the above statements suit your cat, you may need to start your cat on a diet and exercise program to encourage weight loss.
See A Veterinarian
Before you make any drastic changes to your cat's diet or exercise, it's essential to take your cat to the vet. The vet can then rule out any potential underlying causes that may be contributing to your cat's obesity. Your vet can also make recommendations about how much to feed your cat and what food brands to give them for them to be their healthiest selves.
Reduce Your Cat's Food Intake
Weight loss is simple math, no matter what creature you are. To lose weight, you have to consume fewer calories than you burn throughout the day. This is no different when it comes to your cat. If your cat is obese, they are overeating.
Reducing their food intake may be difficult at first, but with a bit of effort, you can settle into a good routine with your cat.
For example, if you usually allow your cat to graze throughout the day, try switching to set meal times. Once in the morning and once in the evening should be enough.
Allow your cat to eat for about 30 minutes, and take away whatever food is left over after that time. Your cat will quickly learn that they need to eat at those set times and can no longer graze whenever they would like.
You can also begin to feed your cat a little less without her even really picking up on it. By mixing her food with water, she might feel like she is eating the same amount as usual; however, she is getting an extra dose of hydration with a smaller amount of food.
No matter how you choose to introduce changes to your cat's diet, make sure that there is always fresh water on hand for her.
Introduce Changes Gradually
Cats are creatures of routine, and any sudden changes will likely be distressing for your cat.
The last thing you want is for your cat to feel like they are suddenly on a starvation diet and don't know where their next meal is coming from or what kind of food will be served at their next meal.
If your vet recommends that you change their food, do it gradually. Start with a mixture of the foods - mostly the old food with a bit of the new food, and increase the amount of the new food while decreasing the amount of the old food until you have them eating the new food solely.
When you reduce the amount of food they are being served, do it gradually.
Encourage Physical Activity
Often, when cats are obese, they aren't quite as playful as they once were, yet cats have a natural hunting instinct that you can capitalize on to encourage further weight loss. Cat toys don't need to be extravagant to help your cat reach a healthier weight. Cats generally will be just as happy playing with a piece of balled-up tin foil as they will with expensive toys. Be creative and figure out what toys work best for your cat.
Even though physical activity is vital for cats, make sure you aren't pushing your cat beyond their limits.
Keep in mind that age and obesity level will affect the amount of time your cat can play in a session.
If you see signs of exhaustion, such as panting, it's time to stop playing. Usually, a cat will cut herself off before this point by simply refusing to participate in playing, and you should respect this and not try to push her further.
Remember, several shorter playing sessions throughout the day are much more natural for a cat than trying to fit in all their exercise for the day in a more extended session.
Don't Expect Results Overnight
Your cat isn't going to lose weight at the drop of a hat just because you changed their routine. It will take time to see the changes in your cat. Depending on how obese your cat is, it can take several months to see results, and it can take even longer for your cat to reach a healthy weight.
However, don't let this discourage you from keeping up with your cat's new diet and exercise plan. Even if you can't see the results right away, your cat will be able to feel them and will be healthier and happier for it.