Fat cats, or “CHONKY” cats as the kids these days say, seems to be these days seem to be all the rage on the internet. All cats are cute, even the fat ones. And those fat-cat photos may result in lots of “likes” online. But it’s not healthy for your cat to be overweight, and can lead to diabetes, arthritis and a shortened life span. If you notice your cat is starting to put on those pounds, it’s important to consider nutrition for cats. Work with your vet to get things back on track, to prevent, ahem, larger health issues down the road.
Keep reading to learn more about why cats get fat, and what you can do about it.
Why Do Cats Get Fat?
Not many people would deny that North America has a problem with obesity in humans. A recent study shows our pets are facing this problem as well.
In 2011, over 50% of cats qualify as obese.
There are a number of reasons for this rise in obesity among cats. These can include the rise of pet owners keeping their cats indoors for safety reasons, owners who “free feed” and always make food available, and the propensity for cat owners to offer treats as bribes every time their cat doesn’t do what they want.
How to Put Your Cat on a Diet
Let’s face it, no one likes a diet. And when you’re limiting your cat’s food intake, or suddenly change their food or offer less of it, they aren’t going to like it either.
Ignoring their cries for more kibble, though, will make a big impact on their quality of life in the future.
Here are some tips to help get your cat back to a healthy weight.
1. Limit Feeding Times
Many cats have food available at all times, allowing them to have a bite or two whenever they feel like it.
Unlike humans, many don’t realize eating all day, every day may not always be the healthiest option. Limiting feeding times to a few times per day, as well as limiting portion sizes will go a long way to getting your cat back to a healthy weight.
2. Limit Treats
It can be easy for a cat owner to get into the habit of offering treats when, well, anything is wrong. Cat meowing your ear off? Treat. Can’t figure out where the cat is hiding? Open the treat bag, and they’ll come running.
It’s also important to be aware of the types of treats you’re offering to cats. Many store-bought options are not nutritionally sound – if you do want to give your cat something special offer a small piece of cooked fish or meat.
3. Make Sure Your Cat Gets Exercise
Making sure dogs get enough exercise is easy – most are begging for a walk the second you step in the door.
But try putting a leash and harness on most cats, and they want nothing to do with it.
Cats can sleep up to 12 to 16 hours per day, and they seem perfectly content with this arrangement.
Adding interactive toys to their environment, and making time to “play” with your cat can help keep them active. If it’s possible for you to do so, consider adopting a second cat from your local shelter or rescue. Not only are you giving your cat a “friend” to play with, you’re saving another life as well.
4. Feed A High-Protein, Meat-Based Diet
A cat in the wild is a carnivorous creature. People with outdoor cats often find “gifts” of mice and birds left by their feline friends.
A cat’s natural diet is high in protein, so the ideal diet for your cat will be meat based. This means 35-45% “dry matter” protein (meaning this is the protein level in the food when water has been removed), and a moderate fat content. Many people prefer dry kibble because it’s generally lower priced, and can be left out for long periods of time. However, these have higher levels of flour and sugar, which results in them being high in carbohydrates. Cats don’t process carbs as easily as humans. You may not want to give-up on the kibble entirely. But feeding a combination of wet and dry food is almost always better for your cat.
5. Avoid Poisonous Foods
This seems obvious – avoid eating poison. But it’s worth noting that some foods are not healthy for cats, and should be avoided.
Read this article to learn about some of the household foods you should ensure your cat never gets their paws on.
Call Bickford Park Animal Hospital
Is your cat looking a little on the heavy side?
Are you trying to determine the best way to help your cat lose some weight? Do you need a professional opinion on how much weight your cat needs to lose? For help with these and other important questions when it comes to taking care of your pets, Bickford Park Animal Hospital is here to help.
Contact us today to set up an appointment, and let us help you get your furry friend back to a healthy weight.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.