Tips to Help Your Cat Lose Weight
Although pudgy cats may seem cute and cuddly, being overweight can have a significant negative impact on your cat's health and longevity. Carrying extra weight puts strain on your feline friend's joints, makes them prone to conditions like diabetes and fatty liver disease, and ultimately shortens their lifespan.
Helping your cat lose weight may seem like a difficult task at first, but it is one of the best things you can do to keep them enjoying a happier, healthier and longer life. Remember that all good things take time, and weight loss in cats is no different. Most weight loss programs for cats aim for a loss of about 0.5% to 1% per week, so even a loss of 25g a week for a 5kg cat can be step in the right direction!
We all want our cats to live long and happy lives, so what can you do if you think yours might be overweight? To help you get started, we've written a helpful guide with tips on diet, exercise, and more!
Sometimes a fluffy coat can mask the secret pudge underneath, however signs your cat could be overweight include:
- Sagging belly
- Large 'pouch' under abdomen
- Loss of obvious waist
- Unable to feel ribs
- Reduced activity and sleeping more
Body Condition Scoring your cat is a simple way to assess if they are overweight, and more accuretly reflects the amount of fat coverage than the number on the scales. Have a go at performing a body condition score on your cat at home using our Body Condition Score Chart. A cat at an ideal body weight will have a body condition score of 4 or 5 (out of 9), and if your cat scores a 6 or more, then some weight loss would be beneficial. Your treating vet will be able to confirm your cat's body condition score for you.
If you think that your cat may be overweight, you should seek advice from your veterinarian. They may recommend a special prescription diet like Hill's Metabolic Weight Management or Royal Canin Satiety as part of a weight loss program. It is important to remember that prescription diets are only used under the direct instruction of your pet's veterinarian.
When feeding a weight loss diet it is crucial to stick to the amount recommended by your veterinarian. Even an extra ten pieces of kibble a day can cause a cat to gain an extra half a kilo of fat over a year!
Our Top Vet-Recommended Weight Loss Diets for Cats
Royal Canin Satiety is formulated specifically to 'satiate' your cat's appetite. It's the perfect option if your kitty never seems to feel full.
Including wet food into your cat's diet can help provide variety. Hills Metabolic Wet Food is formulated for weight loss and is highly palatable.
The perfect option for kitties who also suffer from urinary issues or stress, Hills Metabolic and Urinary Stress contains L-tryptophan, the precursor to 'happy hormone' serotonin.
Specifically designed for neutered cats, these tasty pouches are low in calories and highly palatable.
Increasing your cat's activity will help to burn off some of their energy and kick-start their metabolism. Schedule in at least two 10 minute play sessions with them every day. Not only will your cat benefit from getting moving, but they will love the one-on-one time with you! Make sure to have plenty of interactive toys around to help keep them moving, and you can even teach them to walk on a lead to burn some calories whilst exploring the great outdoors!
The Best Toys for Overweight Cats:
Ideal for keeping home alone cats busy, the Catit Senses Wave Circuit is interactive and will keep any indoor cat entertained for hours.
This interactive Laser toy provides a moving laser spot for endless fun and chasies.
Cats go crazy for this butterfly toy, which provides natural and unpredictable movements.
Teasers can help your cat exercise their body and mind. The fluffy streamers help stimulate natural instincts and encourage play.
Luigi loves forraging for goodies in his furbulous Paws for Life Rainbow Snuffle Mat.
If your cat is constantly begging for food and then gobbles up their meal in 5 seconds, you may want to reconsider your feeding method. Using a puzzle feeder is a great way to help slow down your cat's speed of eating and help them feel fuller for longer. These toys also help to keep your cat mentally stimulated and physically active.
The Best Puzzle Feeders for Overweight Cats:
5. Treat Them the Right Way
Even a small amount of treats can send your cat's weight loss program off the rails. But that doesn't mean your kitty cat has to miss out on their favourite nibblets. There are plenty of ways to 'treat' your cat without adding to their calorie load.
Kibble for Thought
As an alternative to high calorie treats or human food, you could set aside a few of your cat's kibble every day as a 'treat ration' or use non-food rewards like a scratch behind the ear or some extra playtime.
Add Fibre to the Diet
If you cat still seems hungry, you can trick their tummy into feeling 'full' by adding a little extra fibre to their food. This helps 'plump' up the meal and leaves them feeling fuller and more satisfied. You can feed them some soft, mushy cooked zucchini or sprinkle some natural, unflavoured psyllium husk onto their food.
Low Fat Cat Treats
Avoid Human Foods
Be especially careful of human food, as the calorie load is a lot more significant to your cat's tiny body. For example, 1 cup of milk might not seem like much to us, but for a 5 kg cat 1 cup of whole milk is the equivalent of three hamburgers to an average sized woman! For more treat conversions, check out this great chart from Hills Pet Care: