So, your cat needs to lose weight: you’ve been putting it off for a while - but that last trip the vet’s is playing on your mind. They cast your cat as ‘severely overweight’ and you’re ashamed. Not to mention your deep concern for the countless health implications cat obesity can cause (diabetes, urinary diseases, skin diseases, osteoarthritis… and increased vet bills! Eeek!).
Unfortunately helping your cat with weight management isn't an easy task, but it is definitely possible with commitment and persistence!
As much as it takes training your cat not to eat a bad diet, it also involves training yourself to not give into your cat - even if they have got 'kitten eyes' down to perfection.
With the help of in-house vet practitioner, Dr. Grant at KatKin, the UK’s leading Fresh cat food provider, we have some tried and tested tips to help your cat to lose weight. Follow these steps and your cat will be full of energy and looking slim and trim in no time!
How to tell if your cat is overweight?
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if your cat is in the right weight bracket. Luckily Dr. Grant and his team at KatKin are dedicated to putting your cat’s health first and have pulled together a handy infographic to help. The Body Condition Score (BCS) will help figure out if your cat is overweight, underweight, or just right. This is worked out with a scoring system of 1 to 9, with lower numbers reflecting a thinner cat, and higher numbers being used for fatter cats.
How to measure cat food to lose weight:
Now this can be tough, as many of us use our ‘inner judgement’ to work out portion sizes for your cat. But if your cat needs to lose weight, this isn’t the right way to do it. Work hard to follow the feeding guidelines on the back of your chosen food - and stick to them!
Sometimes it’s nice to give your cat a bit of variety in their food - but always factor this into your cat’s daily food intake, and adjust portion sizes accordingly.
Tip: Dr. Grant advises that generally you should feed your cat for the target weight and not current weight. So, if your cat is 8kg and their ideal weight is 6 kg, make sure you feed for a 6kg cat. Most commercial foods come with feeding instructions, but certain brands, like KatKin, have perfectly portioned pouches for you to make sure your cat is getting a complete and balanced meal each time.
Emily, Founder at Gus & Bella, the subscription + gift box delivering happiness to cats and their humans, suggests another tip if you’re feeding your cat dry food: Pets at Home have plastic measuring pots that you can pick up, free of charge. Simply set upon some scales and check the guidelines on the back of the package. Weigh the correct amount and mark with a felt pen so you can fill the pot each day with your cats daily rations.
Cat exercises to lose weight:
When cats play, they generally expend quite a bit of energy, so we'd definitely recommend dedicating some time to this. If they're not in the mood, remember to use their favourite toys that they enjoy chasing around the room. It's important to remember that cats are hunters at heart, so playing for short bursts rather than extended periods is ideal as it reflects what hunting would be like for them in the wild.
Cats can also get bored with the same toys - so keeping things fresh and new can get them moving again. You should try and dedicate at least 10 minutes a day to get your cat moving if your cat needs to lose weight. This is even more important for indoor cats. Besides, playing with your cat can actually strengthen the bond between you - so it’s a win-win!
When feeding your cat, Dr. Grant recommends getting a Slow Bowl. Not only does this increase feeding time, and make your cat feel like they've earnt their food at the end, it also means they increase their satiety and won't be eating too quickly. (Hint: Gus & Bella subscribers can look forward to receiving a slow bowl in their subscription box very soon!).
You could even make dry food a little bit harder for your cat to obtain. Try hiding their dry food or treats in cubbyholes around the house, or throwing a biscuit at a time so they can have a few rounds of running up and down the hallway before they can enjoy the meal. This works well for the most sedentary of cats that are hard to engage with toys.
Dr. Grant suggests that another little tip we can give is to put the food bowl upstairs if you can. This makes them work a little bit harder for their food while getting a bit of exercise in!
But my cat isn’t very playful - what then?
At Gus & Bella Box, we include potent catnip toys that can turn the most sedentary cats wild and encourage self play for hours. Often the catnip you get in store is ‘infused’ and not very strong, which is why they can often go ignored. We try to work with cat toy suppliers who use the finest grade North American catnip to bring out your cat’s inner kitten.
Also, an introduction to new types of toys and keeping things fresh will stop your cat getting bored and is sure to keep them moving.
How to get my cat to lose weight in a multi-cat household?
Having multiple cats can be tricky when helping one of your cats lose weight. Dr. Grant at KatKin suggests that one tip is to use microchip cat feeders. This allows only specific cats to feed from that bowl, making the separate meals very clear to the cats.
Make sure you stick to strict feeding to both your cats, which means no sneaky biscuits being left out. This is because the dominant cat, who is often the obese cat, will eat more and end up with an endless bowl of calories.
Dr. Grant suggests that a final tip would be to feed your cats in separate rooms if you can.
Can my cat still enjoy treats when they need to lose weight?
When it comes to treats, Dr. Grant recommends taking the equivalent amount away from their daily food. So if your treat is 2 calories and you give them 3, make sure to amend their daily feed by 6 calories. This is so they don't end up getting double the calories.
So just remember - if you want to get your cat to lose weight - you can feed them a treat, but you should adjust their regular food intake accordingly, and reduce their dry food kibble amount, for example.
What is the best cat food to lose weight?
Without a doubt, cat food that boasts high protein and natural credentials is the best food your cat can eat. Free from artificial flavorings and additives, natural cat food will keep your cat looking and feeling their best. There are also multiple vitamins and health benefits associated with a high protein diet.
At Gus & Bella Box we allow cats to sample a range of natural cat foods so they can try-before-you-buy. Cats can be fussy, which is why your cat can sample the different cat food on the market - before you splash out on a premium food product for them. You can even request a custom box to remove treats if your cat is on a strict diet.
Another option would be to place your cat on a fresh cat food diet. Dr. Grant at KatKin explains that fresh diets like KatKin are relatively new to the market and closely reflect what their ancestral counterparts ate. The fats, proteins and fibres in fresh diets are highly digestible when compared to kibble diets.
How to get your cat to lose weight
Unfortunately it does take willpower and persistence to help your cat to lose weight.
If you offer cats treats or variety in their diet, just remember to adjust their regular food intake accordingly - to take away the calories for the food and treats you are adding as an ‘extra’. Regularly encouraging your cat to play with new and exciting toys to keep them active is a great way to keep them moving, and be strict when it comes to portion sizes.
With persistence and dedication you and your cat will soon be on the road to a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Try a fresh diet for your cat
KatKin are a new player on the cat food market. They advocate that Fresh diets give cats more energy, better digestion and improves their coat quality.
Get 25% off your first box of Fresh KatKin using the code GUS&BELLA at checkout, and give your cat the 100% Fresh, real meat, with no fillers, preservatives or nasty stuff.
Try Gus & Bella Box
Did you know Gus & Bella offer custom boxes too? So if your cat is on a specialised diet we can offer treats only, or wet food/ dry food only. Our boxes are the perfect way to keep your cat happy and active with innovative cat toys and health products. We even include a few cat-themed goodies for humans too - so you can join in the fun.