How to help your cat lose weight!

Weight Loss can be tricky in our feline friends. We face challenges such as the lazy indoor cat, or the outdoor cats that is out roaming and may be fed at other homes. By ensuring that your cat is a healthy weight, you reduce the risks and costs associated with obesity related diseases throughout their lives. Obesity related diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and dermatitis, to name a few, are increasing in incidence at an alarming rate.

2 months ago, our nurse Roisin adopted a new cat who weighed in at 7.1kg. She was very overweight and not at all active. 6 weeks down the line and she has now weighed in at 5.3kg. While she still has one kilogram left to loose, she is doing extremely well and now a very happy and much healthier cat. Here is a few things Roisin did to help her to lose weight.

Diet is key. It is important to have your cat on 'diet' food. There are many options out there, each one will have specific feeding guidline and may work in different ways. When introducing a new food it is important to do so gradually. This can be achieved by adding a little of the new food into your cat's old food for 2 days, then feed 50/50 for 2 days, then more new food to a little of the old food for 2 days then you can feed just the new food. Some cats may take up to 3 weeks to fully accept a new food.

When you have decided on which diet food to use it is important to feed your cat for their IDEAL weight not their ACTUAL weight. There will be a guide on the back of the packet of food to help to understand how much to feed. You may feed wet or dry food alone, or a combination of both.  Always ensure you weigh out the food accurately. Use a kitchen scales and pour the correct amount into a food cup, mark the level on the cup with a pen or marker and fill to that line each day. You can spread the daily amount over a few meals if you wish, just be sure to mark the cup accordingly. If you are confused or unsure about what brand to use or how to implement a weight loss plan, just call us here and we will be happy to help.

Exercise is just as important as diet. This is not as easy for cats owners as it is with dogs. However it is still very achievable. Playing with your cat is also going to help her to exercise. Cats of all ages will play if invited correctly. Get her some toys to chase, such as fishing-rod type toys, or toys in which you can place some of her daily allowance of food and let her chase it around to get the food out. She will be happy to get the food and you are happy that you have not given her treats that will  interfere with her weight loss. Another great toy is the laser light, but be careful not to shine this in their eyes. Some cats love to chase a light on a wall or across the floor. However, it is important that once you have finished playing with a laser toy, you give her a kibble or two from her daily allowance. This is because playing mimics hunting for your cat, where there is a reward at the end when they catch their prey. Not giving a reward can cause frustration and stress. You can also hide your cats food in different places around the house and allow her to hunt them out. Another idea is to buy a harness and lead for your cat and bring her for walks every day, this may only be 5 minute walks every few hours but that's ok you can build it up over time when your cat gets used to the harness and lead.  All these ideas are great for helping in weight loss. Hiding the food in toys worked great for Roisin's cat. She loved the challenge of geting the food out of the ball. 

Combining both diet and exercise is the key to sucessful weight loss in your cat. It is also important that the whole family gets involved. Everyone needs to be made aware of the fact that your cat is on a diet so nobody is feeding treats or bits from the table, which we are all guilty of from time to time! Also inform your neighbours if your cat tends to wander around the neighbour looking to be fed. Get everyone involved and make it a fun challenge for everyone that loves this cat.

Once your cat has reached her ideal weight it is important to maintain this and not allow her to start putting weight back on. Stick to the food she is on and don't allow yourself to fed her treats or anything else she shouldn't have. 

And remember to HAVE FUN!!!!!

Above is a picture of Roisin's cat, before at 7.1kg, now at 5.3kg. Keep an eye on our facebook page for updates on her weight loss over the next few weeks.

 

Dublin's First Cat's Only Veterinary Clinic; Just Cats Veterinary Clinic, Coolmine, Clonsilla, Dublin 15.

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