Cats come in all shapes and sizes. Like us, some cats do have a more challenging time maintaining a healthy weight though most will do well with a proper nutrition and exercise plan. So, if your cat is overweight and has been on a weight loss plan for a month (or more) with no weight loss progress observed, it is time to dive in and look for a reason. Let’s take a closer look at five common issues that may be preventing her from losing weight.
Overfeeding cat treats
Pay close attention to the amount of food and treats consumed daily. This includes calories from the cat treats. We love our furkids and sometimes we overfeed them with too many treats. If you’re closely sticking to a weight-loss regimen but not counting the myriad treats you feed your cat each day, you’re defeating the purpose. As a rule, treats should not contribute more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.
The type of treats matters too, especially when you have a furkid struggling to maintain a healthy body weight. Look for treats that are grain-free, higher in protein content but lower in calories. Cats are obligate carnivores, and they will do better with lower-carb, higher-protein cat food and treats. Similarly for cat food, the best cat food for weight loss is usually the grain-free, lower-carbohydrate cat food. Check the ingredients and nutritional panel to find the right cat food and treats for your kitty.
One of the most common mistakes made by pet parents is to feed the wrong type of food. A cat’s diet must be age-appropriate – senior cat food for senior cats, while kittens should be on kitten food. Many pawrents fail to switch their senior cats to a senior formula, and they continue to feed a normal adult formula. Younger adults are generally more active. As such, some adult cat foods are designed to be higher in calories to cater to the active lifestyle. Senior cats are less active. They play less, climb less, and tend to sleep more. Senior cats do require a different diet; one that is lower in carbohydrates and calories, formulated for a less physically active cat but richer in protein to maintain muscle mass. Older cats, just like humans, do tend to lose muscle mass.
Even if your kitty is on an age-appropriate cat diet, if you are practicing free feeding, this may be the very reason why kitty is not losing weight. For cats who can’t, or who like to snack, free feeding can rack up extra pounds. Keeping the food bowl filled with cat food 24/7 is a recipe for weight gain. Cats are more likely to nibble on too much kibble when you “free feed” them.
If scheduled feeding is a challenge, having a smart feeder like this PETKIT FRESH ELEMENT SOLO 3.0L Smart Pet Feeder (Orange). This device comes with a remote-control feature. You can schedule feeding times and monitor food/device status remotely! You can even personalize your kitty’s food portions. This device can dispense different amounts of cat food ranging from 5g to 50g. Adjust accordingly to suit your cat’s weight loss plan.
Lack of exercise
Calorie restriction is important for weight loss but increasing your cat's activity level also plays a role. Unlike their outdoor counterparts, our indoor kitties are less physically active. Since most cats don’t take to regular walks on a leash, it’s important to get creative and encourage them to move. Become your cat’s personal trainer! Provide climbing stations and various cat toys to encourage movements and play.
One interactive toy that will bring out your cat’s hunting instinct is the laser pointer. Use the pointer creatively, move it across the floor, point it to the top of the stairs and then back down, or the back of the sofa and then down to the floor. Keep switching things up so your cat has to run and jump, which will help them burn extra calories.
When you are unable to engage in interactive play, use toys to encourage self-play instead. Hang up the KONG Connects Danglers Cat Toy. The long, fluttering feathers and the bell sounds will entice kitty to jump, stretch and swat. A good exercise to burn off fats!
Crinkle cat toys, especially one that is filled with premium catnip like this FuzzYard Beer Cat Plush Toy will spark kitty's curiousity and keep her playing for hours. This toy is perfect for active play, solo, or with a paw-rent. The crinkle sound will draw out your cat's hunting instinct, making her chase and pounce, and that's plenty of fat burning cardio exercises.
Remember that consistency matters if you want to see results. So, ensure your cat gets regular exercise by engaging in active play at least twice a day.
Although overfeeding and lack of exercise are the biggest causes of cat obesity, there are certain medical conditions that can make it harder for your cat to lose weight. For example, cat with low levels of thyroid hormones as seen in cats with hypothyroidism will suffer from a slowing of the cat's metabolism which can result in lethargy and weight gain. Cats in the early stage of diabetes may gain weight as their appetite will increase. If you have done everything right, but your kitty is still not losing weight, do not rule out the possibility of a medical issue. Talk to your veterinarian to have the necessary blood works done and a proper diagnosis.
A general rule is that an average 4.5 kg cat should consume between 180-200 calories per day. Cats on a weight loss program may need to consume less calories. On average, a healthy rate of weight loss is one to 2 percent of the cat’s body weight per week, but your vet will be the best person to speak to when setting specific weight loss goals for kitty.
Finally, make sure everybody in the household is on the same team, and no one is mistakenly feeding the cat more. We all love our pets and when they come begging for food do not give in! Try your very best not to indulge them. Stay calm. Gently pick them up, take them into another area of the home, and distract them with a toy.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.