Maintaining a healthy weight for your cat is important for their overall health and well-being. Overweight cats are more likely to develop certain health problems such as arthritis/joint pain, breathing problems, heart problems, kidney disease, diabetes and a variety of other diseases and it could in fact shorten their lifespan. Another concern is that an overweight cat is at risk of problems arising should they require anaethesia for a medical condition.
To determine if your cat is overweight, and you know your female cat is not pregnant, then you must examine their shape from different angles. When looking down on your cat there should be a slight indent where their waist should be, if your cat is fluffy it may be more difficult to see but you can feel their body and in a healthy cat you should be able to feel their ribs easily and it should feel similar to touching the back of your hand – if you cannot feel their ribs or if their belly bulges out it is more than likely your cat is overweight.
Should you be concerned your best option is to consult your vet. Other than a medical issue the main cause of your cat being overweight is eating too much and not getting enough exercise.
Here are some tips to help keep your cat at a healthy weight:
Choose high-quality, nutritious food: Try and buy the best quality cat food you can afford which contains all the necessary nutrients they need to maintain a healthy weight. Avoid low-quality, high-fat foods that can contribute to weight gain.
Monitor their food intake: Read labels carefully and ensure that you feed them the correct type and amount of food suitable for their stage in their life, their activity level and the type of cat. Kittens will require different nutritional needs from an adult cat.
Consider portion control: If your cat is prone to overeating, consider using portion control methods such as feeding smaller meals more frequently throughout the day making sure that the portions are divided in such a way that they do not get more than the daily recommended amount. You can also use puzzle feeders to slow down their eating.
Don’t overdo the treats: There is no harm in giving them the occasional treat but give them treats when they are behaving in a positive way and make sure the treat is included as part of the amount of food they would normally have in a day.
Ignore begging: Just like dogs, cats can get into the habit of begging and it is very easy to give them a scrap from the table or an extra treat but this can lead to them becoming overweight so it is best to ignore them until they realise they are not going to be rewarded for this type of behaviour. Like all things necessary to keep our pets healthy and happy it will take patience and consistency.
Provide regular exercise: Regular exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight in cats. Make sure your cat has plenty of opportunities to play, climb, and explore, whether that's through interactive toys, cat trees or access to the outdoors. Some cats can be trained to wear a harness so you can take them out for a walk.
Visit the vet regularly: Regular check-ups with your vet can help identify any weight-related issues early on and provide you with guidance on how to keep your cat at a healthy weight.
Watch for signs of weight gain: Keep an eye on your cat's weight and watch for signs of weight gain such as a decrease in activity level or difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these signs, consult with your vet to develop a plan to help your cat lose weight and to make sure there are no underlying medical conditions causing these symptoms.
Remember, maintaining a healthy weight for your cat is a lifelong commitment. By providing nutritious food, regular exercise, and monitoring their weight and food intake you can help your cat live a happy and healthy life.