Obesity in cats is no joke. Every day I see cats with arthritis, diabetes, bladder problems and liver disease as a result of overeating and lack of exercise. (Where have we heard that before??!)
Just a 20% increase in weight – a 1kg increase in a 5 kg cat – makes a cat obese. Cats hide their fat under their bellies and along their ribs so their owners often miss the early signs of expansion.
Neutered cats, particularly neutered males, and cats that live indoors are more likely to be overweight. When kittens are neutered their energy needs decrease dramatically. We need to reduce their daily intake by 25% and make sure we keep them playing and active.
If your cat is already overweight consult your veterinarian before starting the diet. Too rapid weight loss may result in a fatty liver, which is often fatal. Aim to lose about 1-2% of the current weight per week. For a 5 kg cat that is about 50-100 grams per week.
A 33% to 50% reduction in current food intake combined with exercise should be effective. If possible, cut back the dry food to less than 50% of the daily intake and offer more meat and canned food. A good chew on raw stewing steak, chicken wings, a rabbit leg, osso bucco or lamb cutlets makes puss feel full and cleans her teeth as well.
Ensure that she does not have access to alternative food sources such as the meals of other pets in the household or friendly neighbours!
Increase the opportunities for exercise. A cat tower and a variety of toys that you can rotate out of the cupboard are a good start. Tunnels and hideouts made from cardboard boxes are cheap and fun to play in. You can join in the fun by tugging a simple length of ribbon or a feather along the corridor. This will trim your cats’ waist lines, increase their muscle mass and make them – and you - feel good.