I am always amazed at the number of overweight cats I see during my in-home behavior consultations. What’s even more surprising is that many of the cat guardians are unaware that their cats are even considered to be overweight. Many people also don’t realize that many of the health risks associated with obesity in humans can apply to our feline family as well. Your overweight cat is at risk for diabetes, heart disease and arthritis, to name just a few. So where do you begin if you think your cat may be carrying a little extra baggage? Here are some important reminders:
1. Visit the Veterinarian
The veterinary clinic is the first stop you should make when it comes to determining whether your cat is at the right weight or whether she needs a dietary change. Your veterinarian will examine your cat as well as do diagnostic blood work. Determining whether your cat is at her ideal weight will depend on the physical exam the veterinarian does. In addition, ideal weight is determined by your cat’s age, body type, activity level and overall health. The blood work will help identify any underlying medical concern such as diabetes. Your veterinarian may also do additional diagnostics to see the condition of the heart and other organs.
2. Follow Appropriate Feeding Guidelines for Your Cat
A big mountain of food in the bowl will accomplish two things: it will increase your cat’s chances of becoming overweight and it will reduce her chances of staying active. Those two things put together are a great way of risking your cat’s health.
The feeding guidelines listed on the bag, box or can of cat food are for general information purposes only. Your cat has specific and unique needs and may require more or less of what is recommended on the label. Here again is where you should seek the guidance of your veterinarian in order to determine the correct daily portion for your cat based on her activity level, age and health.
3. Feed the Correct Food
If you’re feeding non-prescription food, make sure it’s the appropriate food your cat’s stage of life. Your veterinarian may instruct you to keep your cat on her current food but adjust the portions or he/she may prescribe a special reduced calorie food. Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s advice and don’t sneak extra treats because you won’t be doing your cat any favors.