October 13, 2018
Health & Fitness
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Feline Weight Loss: Helping Your Tubby Tabby Get Fit

Dr. Elizabeth Hepner
Dr. Elizabeth Hepner's picture
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April 17, 2018

If your feline friend is like most of us, the winter months were a time to cuddle up and hunker down. Unfortunately, this is not the best strategy for the waistline! With summer just around the corner, it is a great time to help your hefty housecat get its summer beach body back.

Excess weight can lead to a host of negative health effects including increased risk for liver disease, diabetes, and increased stress on joints and ligaments. Since cats are small animals, even a weight loss of one to two pounds can make a world of difference for their health.

Here are some tips to help your feline friend get back in to tiptop shape.

Exercise: This is key to a healthy lifestyle, and since most cats cannot join you on a walk or run, it is important to be creative and finds ways to exercise your cat.

Toys can motivate your cat to play. You don’t need to break the bank. Buy a few inexpensive toys that elicit different forms of play. Some cats prefer squeaking noises or bells while others prefer the crinkle of cellophane. Some cats prefer to chase mouse-shaped toys while others like feather wands. Try a few different kinds. Once you find some items they like, leave a few for them to play with at a time and rotate them monthly. Your cat will forget you had those toys before and they will be just like new to your cat.

Reminder: Cats are nocturnal animals, so you may need to experiment with exercise during different times of day. Some cats like to play in the morning while others would prefer right before bedtime.

Increasing the amount of vertical space and areas a cat can climb can also increase a cat’s caloric burn by giving it more spaces to explore. Placing its food in multiple locations can encourage exercise, too.

You can also try food puzzles. These objects need to be manipulated or navigated for your cat to receive kibble. Puzzles are great because they increase a cat’s calorie expenditure and offer mental stimulation. They can also prevent a cat from eating too quickly. There are many commercially available food puzzles, or you can make your own at home. For ideas, visit www.foodpuzzlesforcats.com.

Diet: Depending on your cat’s current diet and its overall health, a different food may be beneficial for losing weight. Here are some tips to regulate your cat’s diet.

A different food choice may be appropriate for your cat. Some cats can be switched to a low-calorie, high-fiber diet to help them stay fuller for a longer period of time. Consult your veterinarian before switching diets.

Manipulating your cat’s feeding schedule by taking the total amount of food and splitting it in to multiple small meals during the day can help your cat stay full without increasing the cat’s daily caloric intake.

Finally, it is a good idea to measure your cat’s food intake. This helps to determine whether your cat is getting the correct number of calories and can help it lose weight or maintain a goal weight. Consult the food packaging for a suitable guideline amount that is determined by type of food and your cat’s weight. Kibble is energy-dense and can appear to be a small amount of food, but overfeeding by even a few kibbles can lead to weight gain.

If you are feeding your cat both wet and dry food, adjust the amount of food appropriately by feeding it half the recommended amount of wet and half the recommended amount of dry food needed for its weight. This ensures that your pet is not getting too many calories on a daily basis. Treats should also be factored in to the daily calorie consumption and should not make up more than 10 percent of your cat’s daily calorie count.

If you think it’s time your tubby tabby shed a few pounds, consult your veterinarian to make a tailored weight-loss plan.

The veterinarians of Calvert Veterinary Center have over 28 years of combined experience helping pets stay healthy and happy. Call today for an appointment at 410-360-PAWS (7297) or schedule online at www.calvertvet.com. Calvert Veterinary Center is conveniently located at 4100 Mountain Road and has proudly served the Pasadena community for over 14 years.

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