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CRITTER CHATTER: Tips for Managing Your Cats’ Weight

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog

Tips for Managing Your Cats’ Weight

In observance of National Cat Health Month, I’d like to help you jettison the term “fat cat” from your household vocabulary, a task most likely met with annoyance from you-know-who. And maybe even encourage your fatty feline to watch the television program, The Biggest Loser. It is not easy to initiate a weight loss program for cats, and, more importantly, to stick to it. Sound familiar?

The average domestic cat should weigh approximately 8-10 pounds. Fifty percent of America’s cat population are overweight, a condition that can potentially lead to more serious issues. Just like with us humans, the core of any weight loss program is diet and exercise.

Food. To complicate matters, cats are true carnivores and have evolved to eat a meat-based diet as opposed to humans and dogs whose nutritional needs are met from a combination of vegetables and meats. Many cats will lose weight more effectively on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, and canned cat foods are higher in protein than dry foods and generally more palatable to finicky felines.

There are a number of weight control foods available at pet stores for cats that need to lose a small amount of weight. However, if your cat needs to lose a substantial amount of weight, ask your veterinarian to prescribe a low calorie, high protein food. A few tips to help promote success are:

· Feed small meals frequently.

· Do not feed extra food or treats.

· Do not use a self-feeder.

· Offer fresh water instead of food if your cat meows for in-between meals.

· Never leave food out while you are away.

· For multiple cat households, feed cats separately.

Exercise. Charlotte (my Goldendoodle) loves a refreshing walk, whereas my cat Surely, as in “surely you don’t expect me to do that” has absolutely no interest in anything other than pounce and rest action. A few simple tricks that may help are:

· Moving the food bowl to different locations in the house.

· Play with your cat 2-3 times daily at a minimum of 10 minutes each play session. Use feather toys, laser pointers, paper or foil balls, or anything your cat likes to chase.

· Encourage outdoor activities if you have a safe, protected yard or walk your cat on a leash/halter.

· Ask your kids to participate in cat boot camp activities.

After you have established a weight loss program for your cat, it is critical that you make sure it is working. The goal should be lose 1-2% of body weight per week, so weigh him weekly until the ideal weight is achieved and then once monthly.

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a vet and his dogABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Brown holds a Doctorate Degree in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of California at Davis, a Master of Science Degree in Animal Science and Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Physiology from the University of California.  Following discharge from the Air Force as a Captain, he owned and operated the largest veterinary hospital on Cape Cod for almost twenty years. Brown is the past President of the Yavapai Humane Society Board of Directors, Branding Committee Chairman for National Animal Supplement Council and member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  He writes and lectures frequently on the benefits of natural and organic foods and supplements for animals and lives with his wife and a Golden Doodle named Charlotte.

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