Friday, January 16, 2009

How to Put Your Cat on a Diet

"Your cat is fat!" Those horrifying words reverberate around the vet's examining room. What you thought would be a simple visit for shots and a checkup ended up being a brash assessment of your kitty's physique. You've got a fat cat and you don't know what to do.

Cats have a metabolism, just as people do. Lazy or older cats tend to have a slower metabolism and as a result, burn the calories consumed from foods slower than more active cats. As calorie consumption increases, and with it your cats need for more and more food, kitty can pack on the pounds just like humans do on a diet of chocolate candy bars.

The theory of weight loss and gain is similar to humans. However, it is absolutely necessary to make sure your cat is getting enough food and water every day for maximum health. Any drastic change to your animal's diet can be traumatic. It makes more sense to put your cat on a diet that will encourage slow and steady weight loss. Consult your vet about the exact amount your cat should be eating every day. Ask exactly how much you should decrease the amounts of foods each week. Be as specific as possible with your questions.

Dry Food

I'm not a proponent of dry cat chow. It's packed with carbohydrates and fillers like grains and oils that your cat simply doesn't need. Cats are obligate carnivores that require meat in their diet, not grains. So consider the cat chow as kitty potato chips that are packing on the pounds and wrecking your cat's svelte figure.

If you're free feeding your fat cat dry kibble all day, it needs to be stopped. Do it gradually by feeding high quality canned cat food in place of the filled chow bowl. Reduce the chow in the bowl by one third every 2 days and add a wet food feeding. Most adult cats require one 5.5.-ounce can of wet food each day. However, some differ. If you need to add a little more wet food, then do it to keep kitty from starving as his body adjusts to less food.

Your aim is to provide your cat with 2-3 feedings per day of wet food only. By eliminating chow, you're eliminating a ton of unnecessary calories. Don't expect the change from dry chow to wet food to be easy. Be patient with the cat. We humans don't like giving up our junk foods either.

Cat chow doesn't have even a minimal amount of the moisture that a cat needs to consume on a daily basis. Many cats aren't great water drinkers so adding any to their diet is a must for kidney health. Not convinced yet that chow is bad?

Try this fact. In the wild, cats get every bit of water that they need from the prey they eat. They don't need to drink water.

Wet Food

There's simply no way to take a field mouse, chipmunk, or bird and stuff it in a can to make the perfect cat food. However, manufacturers of pet foods have added an acceptable combination of protein, vitamins and minerals to make a can of cat food a more than adequate diet for your cat. The caveat is the quality of cat food that you buy. To place an obese cat on a diet, it is simply unacceptable to feed anything from a grocery or chain pet food store. All-natural foods are the only way to go. Natural pet foods contain less filler, starches, and are generally packed with

Wet food has added bonuses too. Within a few weeks of feeding your cat a high quality wet food, you'll see a noticeable difference in the texture of his fur. It's truly amazing. Plus, wet food has an added benefit of increasing the amount of water in a cat's diet because water is used in the preparation of the food. Moisture is so important for a cat's proper kidney function. The added benefits to feeding the highest quality food that you can afford is a definitive decrease in health problems as your cat ages, translated into dollars and cents NOT spent at the vets.

Some tricks for tricking a dieting kitty

Cats hate change so expect a little pouting when the chow bowl goes empty permanently. Remember that you're trying to teach your cat to eat properly. In actuality, your cat can't understand the insulting comments made at the vets. It's up to you to translate it to a new and interesting way of feeding.

Plastic dishes retain the smell of foods. Pitch the plastic dishes and invest in ceramic coated or metal dishes. These are so much easier to clean and very likely, your fat kitty will appreciate a change. In fact, you might want to change the feeding area completely. This slight alternation may be enough to signal to the cat that change is coming.

When feeding wet foods, make sure you spread the canned food across the bottom of the dish. Use a fork to mash the food flat. Your aim is to teach your cat to eat slower. Chunks of food can be gulped down but mashed food requires the cat to lick slowly to eat his meal.

Fresh water is a must for every cat, every day. Standing water gets a film across the top of it in just one day. Kitty spit, fur, and food particles end up in the dish, often making it resemble the neighborhood pond. So wash that dish and add fresh water every day.

Make this a fun time for your cat by adding some daily exercise. There's no need to buy expensive cat toys. Grab a bottle cap and toss it across the floor. Put your hand inside an oven mitt and wrestle with the cat. Any increase in exercise will burn some calories.

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