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essential nutrition advice for your pet.

Obesity in Cats and How to Put a Cat on a Diet

16 min read


Label Recommendations


All pet foods come with Recommended Feeding instructions. The problem is that these recommendations are NOT absolute requirements even though most pet caretakers think they have to feed their pet the recommended amounts. Most house cats (and dogs), if fed at the amounts stated in the label recommendations, will eventually become overweight.


Pay attention to your pet's body weight (size) and just by simple observation decide if it is overweight. If so, don't feed so much.


What we do…
Feeding the “Recommended” daily portions indicated on pet food labels will nearly always result in feeding more calories than the animal needs for an average day’s energy requirements. The carbohydrate excess, unneeded as fuel for metabolism or physical activity, gets converted to fat and stored in the cat’s fat reserves.


The odds are very high that if you feed the size and numbers of meals suggested on the pet food label’s feeding recommendations, the cat will end up overweight.


What we should do…
Adjust the amount fed to the cat’s body character and physical activity. If the cat looks and feels overweight, it is! You are feeding too much for that cat’s daily needs for energy for exercise or physical activity; and regardless of what the pet food label’s suggested amounts to feed are, you must feed less than that if the cat is to have a normal (healthy) body weight.




What we do...
We fill the bowls with food and water, clean the litter box, and say "See you later, Kitty, I’m off to work." OK… let’s say that you can’t help it. You simply are not going to change the food amounts, kinds and portions you have always been feeding your overweight cat. If you are to be successful in promoting weight loss in your cat you will have to increase its’ energy (calorie) burning activities.


This is much easier to do with a dog by taking it for a walk or run, throwing a ball, swimming, etc. Good luck going for a run with your cat! Most cats spend most of their time sleeping on the couch, are left alone for long periods of time and really have nothing happening in the home that would trigger a carnivorous hunter’s interest levels. There is nothing to chase, nothing to hide from, and nothing to stalk and run down. There is nothing else to do but to take cat naps!


What we should do…
To assist in improving the kitty’s physical activity, you can add some interactive play toys to the cat’s environment. Consider adopting a friendly and playful cat from the local shelter so the solitary cat has "someone" to interact and play with. Many people believe two cats are more fun to have and more entertaining and no more trouble than a single cat. You can also buy toys that simulate an escaping prey and that really interest the cat in play behaviors. Cats can be exercised but you may need some imaginative toys and ideas to get the job done.


What to Feed a Cat


Cats, unlike us humans, obtain food satisfaction less from carbohydrate than they do from protein intake. Give them a high protein mouse and they are as happy as can be. One mouse would make a good meal for an average sized cat. A typical mouse is made of 20 percent protein and 9 percent fat and lots of moisture.


And now that you know that the cat is a true carnivore, that its metabolic pathways have been set by natural evolutionary processes to efficiently utilize meat protein as a major component of the diet, you understand why a carbohydrate rich diet simply does not make sense for felines. Cats are not plant-based grazers; they are hunters of other animals and to reach an optimum state of health they must comply with what nature programmed them to be. There are no vegetarian diets for cats.


No matter what your own personal preference is regarding the ingestion of meat, by nature’s own rules the cat requires meat in its diet. One small aspect of this need for meat is the cat's requirement for ingesting preformed Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)... preformed in another non-feline mammal.


As the cat’s caretaker, you have complete control over what your cat eats, how much it eats and how often it eats. Do not worry about the teeth and gums "not having some abrasion to clean off the tartar." Other good dry food products will demonstrate protein levels above 30 percent and fat levels above 18 percent in the Guaranteed Analysis table on the pet food label. Usually these diets are the “Growth” or “Puppy” or “Kitten” diets… and these formulations can be fed for life in a healthy individual that does not require a therapeutic diet.


If you still fear the erroneous myth about "too much protein" being "bad" for dogs and cats or that protein “causes” kidney damage, you really need some facts. There are numerous documented reports that will allay your fears and will update you on correct research. The myth about protein causing kidney trouble was extrapolated from research done on rodents many decades ago; the myth developed a life of its own in spite of being refuted by proper research on dogs and cats.