An indoor cat has fewer opportunities to hunt, prowl, explore, climb and run. Add to their general sedentary lifestyle an overabundance of food, and you have a recipe for weight gain. This imbalance of calories in, but not expended, can lead to inflammation, diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, cancer, and a lower quality of life.
The prevalence of obesity in indoor cats is growing. With our feline weight loss tips, cat owners can prevent this from happening and work towards reversing problematic patterns.
Understanding the Bigger Picture
It doesn’t happen overnight, but even an extra pound or two can create dangerous health complications for a pet cat. Once the scales are tipped, it is much harder to lose extra weight than it is to simply prevent weight gain. The good news is that by achieving their ideal weight, you are increasing their day to day quality of life, and possibly adding to their lifespan.
Some cats may not appear to be affected by extra weight, but others will show less interest in family life. They could be in pain, and may not want to play or cuddle. You may see that, over time, your indoor cat starts to sleep more. This could be their age, but lethargy is part of the problem.
How to Get Your Cat Moving Again
Cats evolved to hunt using as little energy as possible, so it can be difficult to inspire them to “work out”. You can definitely attempt to engage them with short-term pursuits, but don’t be disappointed if they turn your catnip game into a spectator sport.
Regularly rotating their toys is one way to engage a cat’s interest. Feathers, laser pointers, squeakers, or furry mice with bells, can all be played with 10-15 minutes a couple times per day.
If they beg for food, offer them water. Increase their snuggle time or grooming. Space their meals throughout the day to trick them into feeling full, but do not increase their portions.
Employ your home’s vertical spaces to encourage climbing and exploring. Get creative and increase where your cat can go throughout the house. Place their food in a new place every day and guide them to it, such as up or down some stairs. Provide them with the chance to walk, climb, and “hunt” prior to their food reward.
Other Feline Weight Loss Tips
Your cat’s food bowls should not be in or near locations where they also groom or nap. Separate their space so they have to move in order to eat.
Use feeding balls or other types of interactive feeders so they have to “work” to slowly release their meal. Engage with them at meal time by tossing a few pieces of kibble at a time so they have to run to pick them up.
The bottom line for feline weight loss is simple: fewer calories, more exercise. However, restricting too many calories in a small window of time can be dangerous. To reduce the possibility of life-threatening hepatic lipidosis, your cat’s weight loss should be supervised by your veterinary team.
A thorough physical examination is critical along with various diagnostics to ensure there aren’t obstacles to your cat’s weight loss strategy. We can also recommend appropriate food, portions, and supplements that support your cat’s ideal weight.