You’re probably receiving this handout because your kitty has been deemed to be at risk of or presently carrying a little extra weight. Don’t worry… there are many simple changes that can be made to change that! Feel free to ask us questions along the way!
Have your veterinarian determine which food is best and how many calories/what amount your cat should eat per day. The veterinary grade diets that are offered at both of our clinics come with a money-back guarantee should your pet not enjoy a chosen diet. Your pet is welcome to “taste-test” this way until they find a diet they like! Please keep in mind that a gradual transition is always preferred as many cats resist sudden changes to foods that they have become accustomed to.
Veterinary-grade weight loss diets ensure that calories remain low, while other nutrients remain at optimum levels and are designed to promote a feeling of fullness. Commercial diets fed at lower amounts may also result in weight reduction, but they may also result in nutrient deficiencies if fed inappropriately.
Canned foods are lower in carbohydrates, and higher in water and protein thereby providing a feeling of fullness to help reduce “begging” behaviours. They are often considered a more “natural” diet for cats as well. However, excellent weight loss is also able to be achieved with appropriate dry diets.
Meal rations should always be measured accurately – we provide plastic measuring cups for this purpose. Measuring can be made even easier if these plastic cups are cut to reflect the exact meal portion. A kitchen scale can also be used for this purpose. Weight loss is best achieved through meal or restricted feeding rather than providing free-choice access to food at all times.
Extra treats are not “necessary” but they do improve the interaction and emotional bond that people feel toward their pets. Hence, most pet owners prefer to feed them. “Begging” initially begins as a plea for attention early on in life. It is most often misinterpreted by pet owners as a plea for food. The behaviour becomes reinforced when the pet is provided a food reward for this plea for interaction and can become an annoying habit. Break the habit by providing attention (playing, stroking, etc) instead of providing a food reward.
Electronic feeders can be purchased to feed dry kibbles in pre-determined /measured amounts. They are an excellent way for owners to remove themselves from the feeding process altogether which may help reduce begging behaviours.
Treats should be kept to a minimum. Alternatively, a pet’s regular kibble as part of their daily ration will often suffice as a “treat” without adding too many additional calories. We also have low-calorie treats available at our clinic. Keep in mind that, if extra treats are fed, the daily ration of food should be adjusted accordingly.
It is more common for indoor cats to be overweight vs their outdoor counterparts. Although the comforts of home tend to be a safer way to live, indoor living isn’t always physically stimulating. A more “natural” or “wild” environment can be simulated by providing areas to rest or eat at various levels as they would have available in the wild (i.e. on top of the fridge).
Play or “hunting” behaviour should also be encouraged. Cats that carry extra weight have difficulty or discomfort when moving their larger body mass around. Hence, the cycle of inactivity promotes further obesity. Even a small amount of activity per day (i.e. 10 minute play sessions once to twice daily) can make a big difference. Cats love play sessions that involve interaction with their loved ones (i.e. a fellow furry friend or human!). Some suggestions are:
- Rolled up balls of paper or aluminum foil
- Chasing laser pointers along the floor or a wall – these can be found at most stationary, dollar and pet stores
- Plastic bags, newspapers, boxes, etc
- Toys containing cat nip or toys on strings
Special feeding toys can be purchased from our clinic (“Slim Cat”), some pet or department stores or fabricated at home. These can involve punching holes in a drink carton or plastic container in which kibbles can be put inside encouraging the pet to perform activities similar to “hunting” in order to be provided with their food reward. Rather than putting kibbles into a bowl, entire meals can be fed this way and will keep a cat busy for hours!
- It is essential that your cat be weighed at least every 2 months throughout their weight loss program to ensure success is being achieved. Our scales are available during clinic hours free of charge. If progress is not being made, the weight loss plan can be altered.
We are always happy to consult with you to determine which changes need to be made.
Good luck – we hope your pet is the “Biggest Loser”!
This cat is of ideal body condition (3/5) !