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Getting Weight Off
If your cat is more than a little overweight, first thing you need to do is make an appointment with your veterinarian. There are a few medical reasons for gross obesity that require veterinary care to fix. Barring a medical problem causing condition, your vet should monitor your obese cat's health as you restrict calories. Strict dieting can be deadly to obese cats. Do not just drastically cut down on her food and hope weight will melt off. Obese cats who are suddenly deprived of food are prone to Fatty Liver Syndrome, which can be fatal if untreated. Weight loss should be a gradual process - natural result of a healthier diet and a more active life.
Most cats are not so grossly obese that they need medical care to supervise their weight loss. Most are simply result of an unhealthy lifestyle where they consume too many calories, are too inactive, and eat wrong kinds of food (pretty much just like overweight people). Addressing these problems will result in weight gradually reducing to a healthy number. Try these tips.
*Buy premium food. Many inexpensive brands don't use quality ingredients and use far too many fillers. The nutrients are not as digestible, thus aren't bioavailable (they just pass right through system). The cat eats more to compensate.
*Feed portioned meals at regular mealtimes. Cats will eat out of boredom, just like people. They may also compete for food in a multi-cat home. Feed portion recommended on food packaging, dividing into two or three feedings daily (barring any medical condition requiring a different feeding schedule). Separate your cats in your multiple-cat household if necessary. Leave food down for 30-40 minutes, then take it up. You eat meals at mealtime. So can your cat.
*Feed wet food in addition to or instead of dry. Cats are meant to eat meat. Dry foods tend to have far too many carbohydrates (not very digestible) and not nearly enough water and protein. The wet food, high in protein and fat, satisfies cat's hunger better and is used more efficiently by body. If your cat likes wet food, feed wet only. If she isn't all that crazy about it, give her half her calories as dry and half as wet. If you're just starting out, even a quarter of her calories coming from wet food is a start.
*Skip treats. Food should not be equated with love. Once your cat is down to a healthy weight, an occasional treat is fine, but until then, try using praise, play time, catnip, and other rewards to show how much you enjoy your companion.
*Integrate activities other than eating into routine. Your cat was made to be an active being - one that hunted for food, competed for territory, stayed safe from predators, stayed warm in winter, cool in summer, ranged for mates, and raised young. Now that cats are kept as indoor pets, they need activity to be provided for them. Get some interactive and automated toys for your cat. Play chase with her - get her to chase you from room to room by dragging a cat toy behind you. Get her a big cat tree and hide interesting things such as catnip pieces in it, especially towards top where she needs to climb to get to. Plant a little container of cat grass and secure it to top. Be creative, but get her thinking and moving. Playing with your cat reduces stress levels - for both of you!
Keep Weight Off
Don't get lazy once your cat can actually jump onto couch without effort. A healthy weight is all about lifestyle. Maintain feeding regimen, don't start feeding a lot of extra treats, and keep up activity levels. Spending a little time to get your cat to a healthy weight will help your cat live a longer, happier life.
M. Nikole Hunn is a freelance writer in her spare time, in between coding, tripping over cats, and cleaning hair off the couch. Her main site can be seen at http://www.ipwebdesign.net/.