1. Feed portion-controlled meals on a consistent schedule. In my experience, most owners of overweight cats serve their pets an all-day buffet. They put down a bowl of food and kitty is allowed to graze throughout the day. When the food gets low, the bowl is refilled.
Your cat is a carnivore, and in the wild your kitty would hunt and catch one, two, or even three mice a day depending on his age and metabolic demand. Hunting is not grazing. Kitties provided with a constant supply of available food turn into grazers. This is contrary to nature, and grazing cats very often consume too many calories from uncontrolled portion sizes.
Feeding two portion-controlled meals a day, one in the morning and one in the evening at about the same time each day, works well for most cats and also fits easily into the daily schedule for most families. If you're home during the day, you can feed several small meals instead, since one study shows that cats fed more often are more active.
2. Do the math. In order to know how much food to feed your cat, you must calculate calories. I recommend checking with your veterinarian on the proper weight for your kitty.
To figure out how many calories your cat requires per day to achieve her ideal weight, first weigh her. Next, figure your kitty's weight in kilograms by dividing her weight in pounds by 2.2. So for example, if your cat weighs 15 pounds, her weight in kilograms is 15 divided by 2.2, or 6.82 kilograms. Multiply your cat's weight in kilograms by 30 and then add 70 to that result: 6.82 kilos x 30 = 205 + 70 = 275. Now multiply that result by 0.8: 275 x 0.8 = 220. Your cat needs 220 calories in a day to maintain her 15-pound weight.
If your cat eats less than 220 calories she'll lose weight. If she gets over 220 calories a day, she'll gain weight. If you keep her right at those 220 calories, she'll maintain her current weight.
Let's say your 15-pound cat's ideal weight is 10 pounds. Here's how to calculate how many calories she should be eating:
10 pounds divided by 2.2 = 4.55 kilograms
4.55 kilos x 30 = 137
137 + 70 = 207
207 x 0.8 = 166 calories
To get your kitty down to her ideal weight of 10 pounds, you need to feed her about 166 calories in a 24 hour period - not the 220 calories she's been eating. So decreasing her caloric intake slightly over time will allow for slow and healthy weight loss.
3. Feed a species-appropriate diet. Cats require a balanced, moisture dense, meat diet. Not only will the right food help with weight loss, it will make your feline companion much healthier for the long haul. Fortunately, we're starting to see a number of mainstream scientific studies showing the all-around benefits of wet food for cats.
4. Feed cats separately in multi-cat households. Some kitties are ravenous eaters, while others are perpetually picky. If you happen to have both types of eaters in your home, it's best to separate everyone at mealtime. This gives you the ability to precisely control the amount of food each kitty is served, lets you know immediately if someone's appetite drops off or picks up noticeably (both can be signs of illness), and solo dining also allows each cat to eat at his or her own pace without any need to resource-guard.
5. Get Fluffy moving on a daily basis. The good news is that your indoor-only cat is much safer from trauma, disease, and general mischief than indoor/outdoor cats. The not-so-good news is that indoor cats often don't get much exercise.
Make sure your cat has things to climb on, like a multi-level cat tree or tower. Invest in a laser toy, and when considering other kitty diversions, think like a hunter and choose toys and activities that appeal to your cat's stalking instinct.
Don't overlook old standbys, either, like dragging a piece of string across the floor in view of your cat. Ping-pong balls are another oldie but goodie, along with bits of paper rolled into balls, and pretty much any light object that can be made to move fast and in unanticipated ways.
I also recommend walking your cat in nice weather using a harness. This gets him out into the fresh air, stimulates his senses, and gets his paws in direct contact with the ground. An alternative is a safe, fully enclosed porch or patio area that prevents your cat from getting out and other animals from getting in.
Dr. Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian. You can visit her site at: MercolaHealthyPets.com
Her goal is to help you create wellness in order to prevent illness in the lives of your pets. This proactive approach seeks to save you and your pet from unnecessary stress and suffering by identifying and removing health obstacles even before disease occurs. Unfortunately, most veterinarians in the United States are trained to be reactive. They wait for symptoms to occur, and often treat those symptoms without addressing the root cause.
By reading Dr. Becker's information, you'll learn how to make impactful, consistent lifestyle choices to improve your pet's quality of life.
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