Obesity in Cats: How to Help Your Cat Lose Weight

Fat cat sitting on the floor

Obesity in cats is increasing as more people adopt cats as indoor pets. But that does not mean that your cat is doomed to a life of being fat and living with obesity related health issues. There are simple ways you can help your cat lose those excess pounds and live a great life as a member of your family.

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An overweight cat can suffer any or all of the these disorders: diabetes, liver disease, arthritis, urinary problems, lameness, pancreatitis and GI diseases of all types, and skin problems such as dandruff. The possibility of cancer and a decreased quality of life are also in the cards for a fat cat.

What Causes Obesity in Cats?

Your cat is fat, but what is the root cause of these excess pounds? It is interesting that you find very few obese cats that live outdoors. Even if they are indoor/outdoor cats, as a general rule cats that spend at least some time outside will be thinner than cats that are 100% indoor cats.

How Much Should My Cat Weigh

So, before you can get your cat’s weight under control, you have to know how much your cat should weigh. I have had cats that weighed between 8 and 12 pounds and they were considered by their vet to be healthy.

Ten pounds is a healthy weight for most cats, but some cats are healthy at as little as 5 pounds and some can weigh as much as 25 pounds and still be healthy. Here are some tips for accessing if your cats weight is right or if he needs to lose a pound or five.

Check your cat for a sagging belly. This can be an indication your cat could be carrying a few extra pounds. Feel your cats bones…check their spine, shoulders and ribs. Are you able to feel the bones? Does your cat feel boney. If so, he could be underweight. 

Does your cats bones feel like they are buried under too much fat? Chances are you will notices other symptoms if your cat is overweight. It may take a lot of effort for him to walk. He may struggle to clean his bottom and you may notice that he is not able to reach his bottom.

Just like in people, a healthy weight can vary from cat to cat depending on a number of things. Taking notice of weight related symptoms is a good way of determining if your cat need some changes to his diet and level of activity.

How to Help Your Cat Lose Weight 

Be aware of your cat’s weight. Some breeds are going to weigh more than others. But even large breed cats can be overweight. You may think that you cat will stop eating when they are full and there is no need to control their food.

I have had cats where food could be left out all the time and there was no problem with them being overweight. And I have had a few that did not know when to stop eating and ballooned to twenty pounds (or more).

Being aware that your cat is a little “fluffy” is the first step towards changing a dangerous situation. So, you are probably wondering how to help your cat lose weight. Your vet can help you with a weight loss plan for your cat, but you can also get started on your own to get your cat back to a healthy weight.

It is About the Food

If you have a cat that is overweight, they should be eating food that is high in protein and low in carbs. Cats are carnivores by nature and they should be eating meat. That does not mean that you have to give them a steak, but their food should have meat, fish or poultry as the first ingredient. 

If you are transitioning your cat to a new food for weight loss, make sure you do it gradually. Take 10 – 14 days to transition fully to the weight loss food by mixing a small amount of the new food in with the old food.

Every 3 days increase the percentage of new food and decrease the amount of old food until your cat is eating a 100% serving of his new food.

Portion Control Is Important

The biggest reason your cat is overweight is he eats too much. I used to think that you could leave food out 24/7 for a cat. And we had several that ate only when they needed to and left what that did not need for another time. The problem is this plan will not work for all cats.

Some cats have a tendency to be compulsive over eaters. If they see food, they eat it. The best solution is to control how much they can eat so they can be healthy and have a good quality of life. How much you feed your cat, depends on his age, weight and activity level.

Check what your weight control food manufacturer recommends for your cats weight to be able to lose weight. We fed our “chonk” a half to three fourths cup each day. He did lose about 5 pounds. It took a few years and discipline to get the weight off, but it changed his life completely.

Most experts recommend a weight loss of not more than 1%-2% of your cats total body weight each week. Losing the weight too fast can cause loss of muscle mass in your cat. Your cat did not become overweight overnight, so this process will take some time.

Get Your Cat Moving

Cats love to play. Even my 13 year old chases things. His favorites are these little mice cat toys. He chases them from one end of the tile floor to the other. There are an endless number of devices and toys that will get your cat moving. Even if he only gets 15 – 30 minutes of exercise each day, it will go a long way towards helping him shed the excess pounds.

Here are some other toys and devices that can help get your cat burn calories and he may just have fun while he is doing it.

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Interactive laser toys make a great choice for a cat. They will provide your cat with all the exercise he needs. The convenient thing about this type of device is it is a “hands off” option for giving your cat a way to burn calories.

Do you need to keep your cat occupied while you are doing other things? The laser toy not only provides exercise, but it can be used to entertain your cat while you tend to other household chores.

Youngever 24 Cat Toys Kitten Toys Assortments, 2 Way Tunnel, Cat Feather Teaser - Wand Interactive...
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  • INTERACTIVE - Bonding with your cats by teasing your cats and playing together.
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This variety pack of toys will keep your cat active and there will never be a dull moment with this assortment of simple toys that will keep your cat entertained from morning to night.

If you are looking for something simple and inexpensive for your cat, this will do the trick . Get your cat moving with this assortment of toys, including a 2 way tunnel, a teaser wand and several small toys.

I have never seen a cat that did not like the “automatic ball.” This ball is another “hands off” option for getting your cat moving. This exercise toy fully charged can provide your cat with 4 hours of fun.

The automatic ball includes feathers, a bell, catnip and lights. I cannot image a cat that would not want to play with this ball everyday.

Make It Interesting

One of the coolest devices that has come out recently are interactive puzzle feeders. And you might be wondering what makes interactive puzzle feeders so cool? They are feeders for you cat that he has to work at.

Your cat is challenged to get the food. It makes him work to find his food and it slows down his eating because he cannot just stand at his bowl and “chow”. You may have to be patient with you cat as he figures out this new food bowl.

Interactive Cat Feeder

Catit Senses 2.0 Digger Interactive Slow Feeder - Turn Mealtime into Play Time
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  • Additional Features: Rubber mat secures the cat bowl into place to prevent tipping. Made from BPA-free materials.
  • Easy Care: Easy to disassemble and clean; simply remove the rounded green tubes from the food bowl and handwash.
  • Encourage Natural Instincts: Catit Senses 2.0 is a product line developed to activate your cat’s senses; Our cat toys...

This interactive cat feeder is an easy way to challenge your cat to earn his dinner or treats. It will slow him down while eating and allow him to enjoy his food at the same time. 

An puzzle feeder toy is a great tool for helping your cat lose the needed weight and become a thinner best friend.

Slow Cat Feeder

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  • ▶HEALTHY EATING-- Interactive slow feed bowl promote healthy eating, adjust pet weight, prolonging meal time prevent...
  • ▶FUNY TOY-- Maze shape bow allows your pet to enjoy catching food in this different size- fish shape bowl, brings added fun...
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Slow cat feeders are a really cool concept for slowing down your cats eating. No bellying up to the bowl and chowing down at top speed. A slow cat feeder is a food dish with small separated areas that hold the food so that your cat has to eat smaller amounts at one time.

The object of the slow cat feeder is to help your cat avoid bloat resulting from eating too fast. It should also help him to eat less as he navigates the small areas that container food.

Interactive Cat Feeder

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How would you like to be able to control everything your cat eats down to the portion, time of day and number of meals per day? A programmable interactive cat feeder makes that possible. 

Whether you going away for a few day and don’t want to overfeed your cat or just want to put your cat on a structured feeding schedule, you can do this by using this programmable automatic cat feeder.

Final Thoughts

Obesity is a real issue whether you are a person or an animal and it is controllable in both. You have to understand why your cat is overweight and make the changes that will allow him to get back to a healthy weight.

If you have a fat cat and you start making small changes now, they can be down a few pounds or more 6 months from now. We all get a lot of joy watching cats devour their treats. Their faces light up when we take out that special food that they love.

But then there is the sadness we feel as we notice our beloved friend struggling to move around or coughing because he is so large. It is not rocket science to be able to make the changes to help you cat lose a few pounds. He can be the happy  and healthy cat he once was.