Veterinarians estimate that over 59% of pets are obese. While cats may not have the equivalent of a “bathing suit season” that motivates them to lose weight, there are multiple health benefits associated with healthy weight loss.
In fact, cats that carry excess weight can experience health issues ranging from skin problems to organ failure to a reduced lifespan. As with humans, weight loss in cats can be affected by two main variables: portion control and exercise.
HYDRATION & PORTION CONTROL
Cats possess a naturally low thirst drive, and they will often interpret the feeling of dehydration as hunger. This can lead to overeating or near-constant begging for food. Any food with high moisture content, like raw or wet food, can increase hydration naturally. Consider adding a high moisture food into your cat’s daily intake to increase hydration and help achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Consult your vet if your cat continues to beg for food despite increased hydration, as it may be a sign of a more serious health issue.
It’s easy to get in the habit of free feeding your cat: simply filling their food bowl when you notice it’s empty (or when your cat draws your attention to it). Unfortunately, this is an easy way to overfeed your cat. Cats can also fall into a pattern of eating out of boredom, or filling downtime by eating readily available food. You may find it easier to monitor your cat’s food intake by feeding measured amounts at scheduled times.
For those who own multiple cats, it’s often convenient to feed all the cats at once. However, this can result in unequal caloric intake, and it may be necessary to feed each individual cat in a separate area to ensure that they consume an appropriate amount of food.
Most adult cats do well on a feeding schedule of two-three meals per day. Meals should contain adequate amounts of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, and moisture (in the form of wet or raw food). Additionally, consider using a cat fountain or frequently refilling the water bowl to encourage your cat to drink more often and increase hydration. Instinctually cats will drink when they come across a freshwater source.
Exercise doesn’t have to involve a treadmill and a gym membership for your cat — exercise is simply movement that results in energy expenditure. Whether your cat prefers chasing a laser pointer, playing with a stick-and-string toy or climbing a scratching “tree,” any kind of playful engagement activity counts as exercise.
Famous for being strong-willed — if not downright stubborn — cats may resist any efforts to get them moving. Capitalize on your cat’s classification as an obligate carnivore by incorporating hunting into their mealtime. A cat’s natural hunting instinct can also be integrated into play: Cats love to “catch” toys that are dragged, dangled, or tossed. Just be sure not to offer your cat any toys that may splinter, break, or pose a choking hazard.
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This blog post originally appeared on www.rawznaturalpetfood.com. It has been modified exclusively for the AW audience.