Got a bit of a portly puss? A tubby tabby? It happens so easily: normally slimline felines can suddenly start to pack on the pounds at any point and if they do, it can have a devastating effect on their health. So if you're worried about your cat's weight, follow our guide for slimming them down healthily.
Most studies agree that the fastest route to healthy feline weight loss is to introduce a high protein, low carbohydrate diet combined with exercise. So increase the amount of meat on offer and reduce any starchy treats. Your cat certainly won't complain about the increase in meats on offer!
Our busy lives can lead to the 'little and often' approach of keeping our cats' tummies full. Scraps here and there throughout the day can quickly add up and it's difficult to keep an eye on exactly how much your pet is consuming.
Depending on the size and breed of your cat, choose between two or three regular, set meal times where they have a measured amount of food.
Also, keep a close eye on their movements for a while to make sure they're not stealing next door's treats or helping themselves to extra morsels in the garden. If they are, you might have to look at ways of restricting their adventures until a healthier weight has been achieved.
Just as with humans, a balanced diet combined with regular exercise is the key to steady and healthy weight loss in cats. If your puss is of the lazy persuasion, you might have to put in some work to get them moving. Try buying them a new toy that encourages more movement. Feather tickle cat toys are particularly helpful for getting them to leap about.
Catnip-spritzed scratching pads and posts are too tempting for them to resist and this too will burn off a few extra calories. Get involved with them while they play - they're far more likely to enjoy it if you're part of the game.
So that you can figure out if your plan is working, keep a chart of your cat's weekly progress. You can use a digital scale to keep an eye on their weight and make sure they're losing it at a healthy rate. You don't want to see dramatic losses; you should be aiming for a loss of about 1% of their total weight each week.
Jot down what they're eating and how much exercise they're doing. If you're enlisting the help of your vet, they'll be intrigued to see a copy of your chart and can offer pointers if the weight's not coming off.
Once your cat's reached the target weight, it's important to make sure they don't keep slimming and become too thin. But equally, you don't want those pounds to pile straight back on. The answer is to create a new plan and a fresh diet that concentrates on maintaining their new weight. Again, your vet can help you to work a new plan out if necessary.