Original Question: How can I get my cat to lose weight? Is exercise or diet more important? - Vivian
I think the average pet owner doesn’t know the answer to this question and they always go to exercise but exercise has so little to do with it. It’s about 10% and then other 90% of weight loss is really about the diet. There’s a couple of things you can do to get the weight off a cat and it’s not easy.
So first of all you’re going to want to get a food that’s a diet food as it is lower in calories. You’ve go to remember that you want them to kind of fill up on it while keeping the calorie load low so they feel satiated and their appetite goes away. I had two cats and they were at a perfect weight and had full access to food 24 hours a day but they maintained a healthy weight because the food was at an appropriate caloric density.
To maintain their weight like that you’d also want to do a calculation to figure out the right body condition score. Talk to a veterinarian or one of the technicians at the clinic to figure out how many calories a day you need to feed your pet to get to the ideal body condition score. Then you really have to get a measuring cup, a real one, and really measure out that food and feed them properly if you have a multi-pet household. You may have to get creative so if you’ve got a fat cat and a thin cat then what you can do is feed the thin cat inside a box with a little hole that only the thin cat can fit through. Alternatively, place the food higher up on a counter where the fat cat can’t jump up and get on.
I would also recommend for any owner who has an overweight cat to get a food ball where you can actually put the food inside and the cat has to bat it around and the kibble drops out one at a time. I think it also makes for good environmental enrichment as it engages them and they get in a little bit of exercise too. Most importantly it slows down their food intake and that’s rather important. Let’s face it, these cats are meant to be out there hunting and chasing things which is their natural instinct but we bring them into the home and they may not have that environmental stimulus that they would otherwise get outside so they just go to the food bowl to eat more than they should.
Overweight cats can get heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and kidney disease among many others so we really want to get their weight down to decrease their propensity to forming those health issues.