It is no secret that many Americans are struggling with their weight, but you might not know that American cats are also having a similar problem. Obesity is becoming so common in our cats that almost half of the cats I see each day are overweight!

Obesity in cats is unhealthy on its own, but it also exacerbates chronic conditions like arthritis; leads to poor coat quality as the cat becomes too large to groom properly, and often leads to diabetes.

Most cats are particularly prone to packing on the pounds due to their sedentary lifestyles. We worsen this by offering food constantly and conveniently, and often we unknowingly provide too much. This results in a cat who lies around all day, lazily snacking from the bowl whenever the mood strikes. And for many kitties, the mood strikes all too often!

How cats can lose weight

If your cat is overweight, it’s likely that your veterinarian has already mentioned it - and why it can be dangerous to kitty's health. Adjustments might be recommended regarding the type or amount of food your kitty gets each day. A change of food is recommended, and most of the time, the amount we feed also needs to be adjusted. Cats are just like humans – to lose weight, they either need to decrease the amount of calories taken in or increase the amount of calories burned. Or in many cases, both!

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Helping cats lose weight

To get your kitty to shed pounds, try incorporating daily exercises. A laser pointer is irresistible to many kitties and watching your cat chase that little red dot up and down the hall can be quite amusing (especially if hardwood floors are involved!). If a laser pointer doesn’t interest your cat, find something that does. Feathers attached to sticks can induce acrobatic leaps reminiscent of Olympic gymnasts!

Once an appropriate diet is established, consider alternate ways of feeding. Toys that slowly distribute food make your cat work for her supper, much the way she would in the wild.

The process

Combatting feline obesity is a slow process. Don’t get discouraged, and certainly don’t withhold food. Doing so can lead to fatal liver disease. If your kitty has extra pounds to lose, work closely with your veterinarian to help your cat shed the weight. Frequent weigh-ins will let you know you’re whether you’re on the right track or whether your plan needs to be tweaked a little to produce good results.

Though she likes to pretend the opposite, your cat actually depends on you – not only for food and shelter but also for helping her stay healthy.

Nov 15, 2011
Pet Health

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