Over 30% of cats in Australia are estimated to be overweight1,2. Just like humans, weight can have a serious impact on a cat’s overall health and well-being so it’s important to take action if your kitty is putting on the kilos.
How to help your cat lose weight
When humans want to lose weight, they usually do so by eating healthy food in the right amounts and exercising regularly. The same is true for our pets.
1. Start with their nutrition
Cats need specific foods to help them lose weight without missing out on the essential nutrients required for good health. Reducing their normal food, for example by half, means you will also be halving their protein and risking reducing essential nutrients such as calcium and essential fatty acids. This can lead to malnutrition in the long term and is why it’s important to switch to a complete and balanced diet formulated for weight management.
Switch your cat to Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight for a breakthrough weight management food, scientifically developed to work with your cats’ unique biology to help burn fat & maintain a healthy body weight for a long, happy life. It is formulated with a blend of natural ingredients, including high protein, high fibre, L-carnitine and coconut oil to help support your pet’s metabolism for healthy weight maintenance. In a clinical study, over 70% of cats and dogs lost weight within 10 weeks when fed this food.3
- High protein to support lean muscle mass
- A scientifically formulated recipe that works with your cat’s biology to help burn fat
- A nutritionally complete and balanced diet
- A great solution for healthy weight maintenance and long-lasting weight support
Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight is complete and balanced for adult maintenance and can continue to be fed to your pet once they reach their goal weight, it is also ideal for multi-pet households even where pets are of differing breeds and weights.
2. Keep them active with exercise
Exercising your cat in addition to making the right food choice is also important in order to help them reach a healthy weight. Some great ways to ensure your cat gets the regular exercise they need include:
- Scratchers – Give your cat a tall and sturdy scratcher so they can use it to stretch out their entire body and get some solo exercise in.
- Toys – A fun toy will encourage your cat to get moving. Explore Petbarn’s wide range of cat toys from wands and teaser toys to balls and tunnels that will keep your cat active and entertained.
- “Hunting” – Put a few pieces of kibble in different spots each day and bring out your cat’s inner playfulness as they roam around the room looking for their tasty reward.
- Catch that light – Have some bonding time with your pet by shining a torch on the floor and walls and watch your cat go nuts trying to catch it.
- “Boxing” – Why do cats love boxes so much? Whatever the reason, give your cat a box to play in for example as a tunnel or by jumping in and out of it. Once they’ve tired themselves out they can also snuggle into it as a cosy hidey-hole.
- Using a harness – Some cats may enjoy a stroll around the yard using a cat harness
If you think your cat is overweight, book an appointment with your local Greencross Vet to discuss the right food for them and other ways that you can help them achieve their perfect weight.
3. Make small lifestyle changes
Avoid feeding too many treats
As much as we love our cats and can sometimes show our affection through tasty snacks and treats, it’s best to avoid feeding them too many. To make sure your cat doesn’t consume too many calories, make sure that no more than 10% of their daily calories come from cat treats. Remember that you should only feed your feline friend with treats that are specifically made for cats, and you should not feed them human food as this is unhealthy and bad for their nutrition.
Consider a slow feeder bowl
If your cat eats too quickly at mealtimes, consider switching their food bowl to a slow feeder bowl. Slow feeder bowls help increase the time it takes for cats to finish their food by ensuring they properly chew their food and can help with reducing bloating, better digestion and less gas. Slow feeder bowls can also act as a little puzzle to make dinner-times more fun and mentally stimulating.
How can I tell if my cat is overweight?
All cats have an ideal weight for their size and breed. Your Greencross Vets team will be able to tell you what this is, and show you how to check that your cat is maintaining a healthy weight.
Questions you can ask yourself to determine if your cat may be overweight:
- Often appear tired and lazy?
- Hesitate when jumping onto furniture?
- Have difficulty grooming properly?
- Have matted hair on the back or tail area?
- Resist playing games?
- Tender or sore when patted over the pelvis or when elbows are touched
You can also look out for physical signs of your cat being overweight such as:
- If it’s difficult to feel their ribs or spine
- If it’s difficult to see a defined waist
- Their abdomen is sagging
Health risks for overweight cats
While weight problems are common in cats, you can help your pet manage this health issue by feeding them the right nutrition and ensuring they receive enough exercise. There are many factors that contribute to cats becoming overweight such as age, breed and underlying health issues. Overweight cats live shorter lives than those who are at a healthy weight. Even being a few kilos overweight, as little as 20%, could mean that your cat has an increased risk of developing serious diseases such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.1
If you think your cat is overweight, book an appointment with your local Greencross Vet to discuss which food is the best for them and other ways that you can help them achieve their perfect weight.
1 McGreevy PD, Thomson PC, Pride C et al. Prevalence of obesity in dogs examined by Australian veterinary practices and the risk factors involved. Vet Rec 2005; 156: 695-702.
2 McGreevy PD, Thomson PC, Pride C et al. Overweight or Obese Cats Presented to Australian Veterinary Practices: Risk Factors and Prevalence. Aust Vet Pract 2008; 38(3): 98-107
3 Hill’s trial data on file, 2011.