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Is Your Cat Overweight?

By: Dr. Liz Bales, Modern Cat's Chief Veterinary Advisor

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If you are spending more time at home, and enjoying more cuddles with your cat, you may see your cat in a whole new light. Has your cat gotten a little plump?  You are not alone.  60 percent of cats in America are overweight or obese.  This extra weight might seem cute, but it’s actually dangerous, and causes health problems ranging from diabetes to arthritis, and ultimately shortens your cat’s life.

Your extra time at home is the perfect time to get started with your cat’s weight loss plan.  To help your cat lose weight, your cat will need portion control, exercise and stress reduction.

To tell if your cat is overweight, run both hands, palms down, across both sides of your cat’s rib cage, with gentle pressure, you should be able to feel your cat’s ribs. Your cat’s abdomen should slope up gently where it meets their hind legs, and should taper slightly past the rib cage.

overweight cat

source: AMVA

Ideally, you would include your veterinarian in your cat’s healthy weight loss plan.  This is likely not an “essential” visit and will need to wait.  But, there are some simple things that you can do to get started.

First, never starve your cat.  Cats that starve, or lose weight too quickly can develop a life threatening illness called hepatic lipidosis.

Second, figure out the amount that your cat is eating in a day and decrease the total day’s calories by 10 percent. If your cat is a volume eater, a weight loss formula will give them more actual food to eat for the calories, it also may have the vitamins, minerals and supplements to support health and metabolism.

Third, treats and table scraps add up.  Remember that your cat is less than 1/10 your size.  A normal sized snack for you might be more than the total calories your cat needs in a day!

Fourth, in nature cats hunt, catch and play with 8-12 mice in a day, and not all at one time. Hunting is your cat’s natural exercise and mental engagement. Split the food into at least 6 portions and gradually begin hiding them around the house – 3 in the morning and 3 in the evening. Eventually, you can hide food up stairs, on top of the cat tree, on the bookcase, and high and low all over the house.  Your cat, and every cat, is a born hunter and feeding them in that manner solves not only weight issues, but behavioral issues as well.

Fifth, Start playing.  Grab your wand toy, and get playing.  Remember, cats like to chase, so start with the “prey” near them and pull it away to get that prey drive going.  At the end of the session, let your cat catch their prey and give them a treat – the hunt, catch, play, eat cycle is complete and they can relax.

Happy hunting means happy weight loss.

Wags and Purrs,
Doc Bales

Best Cat VetThe University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine graduate, Dr. Liz Bales, has only ever wanted to be a veterinarian. She has such a passion for her job, that she says if she weren’t a vet, she would be studying to become one. She loves “helping pets and the people who love them be happy and healthy!  Helping people translate complicated medical information into practical tips on how to care for, and connect with their pets is the best part of her job” Not just a veterinarian, Dr. Bales shares her passion through writing, giving speeches, and appearing on shows such as Fox and Friends, ABC News, and Cheddar. She has even started her own company, Doc and Phoebe, and invented a revolutionary cat product—the Indoor Hunting Feeder.

Dr. Bales’ favorite quote reflects her love and compassion for animals: “When a human dies there is a bridge they must cross to enter into Heaven. At the head of the bridge waits every animal that human encountered during their lifetime. The animals, based on what they know of this person, decide which humans may cross the bridge…and which are turned away.” With this in mind, Dr. Bales tries to live every day by her grandfather’s advice: “These days are precious. Don’t waste them.”

Looking for fun ways to engage your cat during playtime? Check out our suggestions in Modern Cat’s shop.

Last Updated:

By: Dr. Liz Bales, Modern Cat's Chief Veterinary Advisor
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