Weight Management (Monthly Cat Care Article)

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photo by Clarabelle Fields

 

Disclaimer: the staff writers here are not vets nor are they qualified to give medical advice. This article’s purpose is strictly to share stories/information and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Please take your cat to the vet if you suspect anything might be wrong with them. Your vet will know best what to do in your specific situation.

Cats, just like humans, often struggle with weight management. It’s not uncommon for cats, especially if they are exclusively indoor cats, to be overweight or even obese. And, just as humans’ health can be negatively impacted because of unhealthy weight, overweight cats can also experience a range of health problems stemming from their bulky figure — including but not limited to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, and breathing problems. Cats that are older, female, spayed, and kept indoors are at highest risk for becoming overweight or obese, but any cat can have weight problems, even young ones.

Your cat’s vet is your best resource for determining if your cat is overweight. Healthy weight ranges can vary widely, depending on your cat’s age, breed, sex, and personal body build. In general, though, you can determine if your cat is overweight if you cannot feel their ribs when you touch their sides, if your cat struggles to run and play easily, and if your cat does not have an obvious waist. These things could all indicate your cat might benefit from a diet.

There are many ways that pet parents can help their cats obtain and maintain a healthy weight. Encouraging your cat to exercise is an important part of weight management. Getting your cat fun toys and dedicating a fixed amount of time, perhaps 15-20 minutes per day, to playtime is a great way to prompt your cat to exercise. Another important part of weight management is limiting your cat’s access to food. Cats should be fed fixed portion sizes at specific times of day and should not be allowed free access to food or treats. Some vets might recommend or prescribe a special diet cat food to help you cat lose weight.

Your cat’s weight loss journey will likely be a long, ongoing process, but with the help of your vet, you can design a plan that will be perfectly suited to your little one’s needs and that will ensure they will stay healthy and playful long into their old age.

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