With a new year and new beginnings, our furry felines suffer from obesity and weight gain, just like their human companions. And, after all those holiday treats and long winter cat naps, January is the perfect time to focus on getting back in shape for you and your cat.
Many cats, especially indoor ones, struggle to stay slim. With plenty of food available and not enough exercise to cancel out the treats, indoor cats run the risk of becoming overweight, which could be harmful to their health. For this reason, many NYC cat owners hire a cat sitter.
This new year, keep your cat healthy and happy with these five tips to help your cat slim down this month and feel great all year long!
5 Weight Loss Tips for Cats
1. Stop “Free Feeding”
Cats are known for being independent, so many owners assume their feeding schedule will be equally low-maintenance. Often, cat owners just fill up a bowl of kitty food in the morning and just top it off it as it gets low. This allows the cats to graze throughout the day and eat as much as they want.
But this isn’t always the best method.
While we may assume our feline friends will only eat when they’re hungry, if your pets are given unlimited food, chances are they might over-indulge. Instead of letting your cat’s meals be a free-for-all, give your pets smaller, controlled meals.
Measure out how much your cat needs for the day (you can usually find recommended portions of the cat food package) and divide it into two or three smaller meals. This will allow your cats the healthy amount of food, and since it is distributed throughout the day, it will keep them from running out of energy.
For more on this, check out our blog article with pet nutritionist, Dr. Donna Raditic.
2. Switch to Canned or Raw Food
While smaller portions throughout the day will help your cat stick to the recommended amount of food, switching products may help your kitty cats feel more satisfied with their daily allotment.
Just as with human food, not all cat food is alike. Some savory snacks will fill your pet up right away, but some meals will leave them unsatisfied and wanting more.
Cats are natural carnivores. While dogs can do well on a low-meat diet, cats can struggle to get the nutrients they need in dry food.
Try switching to canned or raw food. Canned foods are usually higher in protein, lower in carbohydrates, and often have fewer calories than dry food. Your cats will feel full and satisfied sooner, and won’t end up overeating.
This might seem like an easy fix, but keep in mind that while canned or raw food may be better for your cat, it can also mean higher maintenance.
Meat is usually more expensive, and if you’re gone at work all day (as most New Yorkers are), you might be afraid of leaving wet food out and attracting bugs.
So, before you throw away that dry food, consider introducing the canned stuff as a dinnertime treat. Your cat can have dry food for breakfast and enjoy a canned meal for dinner. It provides variety in your cat’s diet and can help your pet get healthier and feel happier.
3. Feeding Multiple Cats
While switching foods and separating out meal allotments might work well for the single-cat household, it could be a little more complicated for a family with multiple furry friends. You might find that one of your cats has a big appetite, while another is looking pretty skinny.
You’ll want to pay attention to your cats’ eating habits, making sure that each cat is finishing their food (and not starting on the other cat’s meal). Watch your cats closely.
Is one getting a little chubbier? Does one push another to the side when you put out the food bowl? If you think this might be a problem for your pets, there are a couple of things you can do.
First, give your cats different food bowls. If you have separate bowls (and put them on different sides of the room), they might get used to having their food bowl.
If that doesn’t work, you can even try discouraging one cat from eating the other’s food by placing one container out of reach.
If one of your cats is in good shape, and the other is getting heavy, the more prominent cat might not have an easy time jumping up onto a chair or table.
So put food out for the bigger cat in its usual location, and give the second cat a separate food bowl placed higher up on a ledge or shelf. This might discourage your big cat from stealing food, and give your hungry kitty some meal security.
Second, try feeding them in different rooms. If one cat goes after all the food in the house, try keeping your cats in separate rooms during meal times.
Set up a bowl in your bedroom or bathroom (anywhere you can close the door) and let one cat go in at a time and eat their meal. This will give you peace of mind knowing all your pets are well fed and will make some happier kitties.
4. Play Games With Your Cat
While food might be a significant contributor to your cat’s weight gain, meals might not be the only thing to blame.
Many New Yorkers can’t let their cats go outside, so they’re often stuck in an apartment with little to do during the day.If this is the case, your furry friends might not be getting the exercise they need to stay healthy. However, one great way to get your cat some exercise is to play with them.
Cats are natural hunters and love to stalk their prey. Use a pointer light or a toy on a string to get your cat moving. If at first, this doesn’t interest your pet, try something different. Learn which toys your cats liked which colors or textures get them excited.
A cat that seems disinterested in playing might just not be excited by the toys you have. For example, A cat that doesn’t respond to catnip might love honeysuckle or a cat that doesn’t like yarn might love feathers.
Pick out a variety of cat toys, from felt mice to jingle bells, to crinkly paper, and see what sparks their interest. You might be surprised how playful your cats can be.
5. Change Up Your Cat’s Surroundings
Another significant contributor to cat weight gain could be boredom or stress. While it might seem like your cat has it easy: sleeping on the couch for most of the day and then snuggling on your bed at night, cats can get bored.
It’s important to change your cat’s surroundings every so often, making their life a little more interesting.
Leave an empty box in the living room, put some tissue paper on the floor, or even add a new scratching post. Finding something new to play with could brighten your cats’ moods and help make them happier.
Help Your Cat Lose Weight
While many cats may struggle with weight gain, you can help your pets stay in shape. From switching food to playing more, there are so many ways to improve your cat’s health.
This year, resolve to follow these five tips and help your furry friends stay healthy and happy all year long year.