By Sari Reis
If you have a fat cat at home, you are not alone. Fifty-eight percent of our domestic cats are considered overweight or obese. Many people, not realizing their furry felines are overweight, continue to indulge them with food and treats as a form of showing their love. Unfortunately, this is a very unhealthy way to demonstrate your affection. Those extra pounds can lead to heart disease, diabetes, joint pain, arthritis, kidney disease, breathing problems, difficulty grooming, and a shortened life span.
Not sure if your cat is overweight? Here is a way to determine it. At an ideal weight, his face will be slim with clear bone structure. There will be definition between his head and neck and his abdomen will be slimmer than his chest and hips. You will be able to feel his ribs when you touch his sides. If this is not the case for your kitty, he is probably carrying some extra pounds and one extra pound on a cat is equal to 20 extra pounds on a person.
So, how do you go about getting rid of that excess weight? The answer is slow and steady. Discuss the speed of weight loss with your veterinarian. It is very dangerous for a cat to lose weight too quickly so you must be patient. Find out from your veterinarian what your cat’s ideal weight should be and weigh him every week until he reaches his goal. The best way to weigh him is to get on a scale and see what you weigh, then pick up the kitty and weigh yourself holding him. The difference will be the cat’s weight. Be sure to record it.
Just like humans, weight loss is about calorie intake and output. To figure out how many calories your cat should consume daily to achieve his ideal weight, follow these steps:
- Convert his ideal weight to kilograms by dividing by 2.2.
- Then multiply his weight in kilograms by 30 and then add 70 to that result.
- Now, multiply that figure by .8. If your cat’s ideal weight is 15 pounds, his daily calorie intake should be 220 calories. If 13 pounds, it should be 198 calories.
Find out the number of calories per cup (if dry food) or can (if wet food), by reading the labels on the food packaging. If the calories aren’t listed, call the manufacturer and ask. Once you have that number you can determine how much of his food he should be eating daily. And don’t forget that treats have calories too. They should be figured into the equation. Since dry food is higher in carbohydrates, switching to wet food can lower your kitties’ calorie intake. Also, switching to regular mealtimes twice a day as opposed to free feeding can help your kitty shed those extra pounds.
Since the main reasons our cats are overweight are too much food, poor quality food, too many treats and not enough exercise or play time, it is not hard to figure out what needs to be done to get them svelte and healthy and to lengthen their lives.
—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.