What is the cause?
Weight gain in pets is normally as a result of an increase in body fat. The most common cause is a pet eating too many calories (just like ourselves) We often like to treat our pets, but sometimes giving them "human" treats such as crisps and chocolate can contain up to half of their daily required calorie in-take. Too many calories combined with a lack of exercise can also exacerbate the problem. If more energy is being gained from food than is being used, the surplus will be stored as fat.
Other causes, include:
Medical disorders - sometimes weight gain is associated with a medical disorder, which may require investigations and or treatment - speak to the Vet.
Neutering or spaying - Pets, which have been neutered, have a higher risk of weight gain because of their altered metabolism. (However neutering has many other positive health benefits)
Age - Older pets are often less active and if so require fewer calories.
How do I know if my cat is overweight?
The best thing to do is visit the Veterinary Practice regularly, to have your cat assessed and weighed. Many practices offer pet weight control clinics as a free service, because they understand the importance of preventative health and your cats weight could, be associated with some other health problems such as:
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Heart disease
- Skin disease
- Arthritis or other joint problems
- Breathing difficulties
- An increased surgical risk
Other signs that your cat is overweight are:
- You cannot feel your cat's ribs
- Loss of your cat's waist and more bulk around their hips
- Slow to move and difficulty in walking
- No energy and sleeps a lot
- Short of breath
How can I reduce my cat's weight without starving her?
Just reducing the amount of food your cat normally eats will usually fail, as your cat will become very hungry and will be begging for more food, the added problem is by decreasing the amount of their normal food, not only reduces the calorie content but also reduces all of the other vital nutrients, such as protein, vitamins and minerals.
Fortunately today, we have available to our pets special prescription diets which are carefully nutritionally balanced, yummy to eat, low in calories, available in canned and dry and make the cat feel full with fibre, so she will not continually badger you for more food (it is a pity that they have not produced one for people) The Veterinary Surgeon will be the best person to advise and support you through this process.
Useful tips while your cat is losing weight.
Work with the Veterinary Practice, they often provide free support and pet weight checks.
If the practice advices you to follow a particular health and weight programme do stick with it, so your cat will obtain the health benefits in the long term and you will have a happy, active cat.
Make every one in the family and neighbourhood aware, your cat is on a weight control programme and ask for their help. They could spoil a week's work with a few small titbits.
Do not overfeed the recommended amount, always follow the Vets advice or follow the guide on the side of the pack.
Do use an appropriate specially formulated food for weight loss. Many so-called "light foods" are only designed to prevent and maintain weight loss. They are not very effective at ensuring weight loss, safely, over the shortest period of time, speak to the Vet, who will advise you.
Feed your overweight cat separately from the other pets in the house.
Keep your cat out of the room when you are eating or preparing the families meals, to avoid them begging and you giving into temptation.
Reward your cat with cuddles, plenty of strokes or playing games rather than with food. If you feel you have to give your pet a treat, hand feed her a small proportion of her diet food. Or ask the Vet about special prescription treats, which are low in calories.
Encourage, regular moderate exercise to improve your cat's health and well being and help control her weight. Cat toys area good investment. Do check with the Vet if you are planning a new health regime.
Ensure your pet has a regular weight check at the Veterinary practice to closely monitor his weight loss and obtain continued support and advice.
When your cat has achieved her goal, do continue to feed your cat on an appropriate lower calorie maintenance food to help prevent the extra weight returning. You have done extremely well; do not undo all of your hard work.
When you and your cat have achieved your goal, you will both benefit from a whole new lease of life, your cat will feel happy, healthy and fit again and you will have your bouncy kitten-like cat again. Well done.