While an underweight cat is something to watch out for, overweight kitties are more common. When our pets give us their wide-eyed stare and purr gently on our laps, it’s all too tempting to spoil them. A lot of cats enjoy eating as much as we enjoy spoiling them, and overfeeding is becoming a common problem which can present a whole host of health issues.
Signs your cat isn’t at their ideal weight
If you suspect that your cat may not be their ideal weight and body shape always take them to your vet to be sure. While some of us might equate a full belly with a satisfied companion, a few kilograms can be the difference between a healthy pet and a lifetime of health issues. Obesity too can lead to a variety of health problems, such as skin problems, arthritis, or type-2 diabetes.
Even if your cat hasn’t been diagnosed, there are still physical signs that can reveal a poor diet. Lameness could be a result of increased pressure on joints, and can even damage their quality of life if they can’t play, hunt or groom themselves because of their size. Check your cat’s gait and mood are normal, or seek advice as soon as possible.
A healthy cat is a happy cat
As well as these visual and tactile checks, observing your cat’s behaviour is another clear marker for their weight range. High energy, affectionate behaviour, a healthy appetite and strong hunting instincts are all positive signs that your pet is living a happy, active lifestyle with a nutritionally balanced diet.
Happy cats with a healthy diet enjoy constantly testing their hunting instincts, while more lethargic or lazy cats could be avoiding activity if they don’t feel stimulated or are struggling to move. Mix up dinner time by challenging your kitty to find their food by navigating a small maze or slow-down bowl. One idea is that you could bury it inside a safe, suitable toy, and try to find time to play with your cat before or after dinner so they can exercise their instincts, enjoy your company, and work off that unused energy.
As cats would naturally hunt for their food in the wild and eat little but often, it is a good idea to allow them to feed freely throughout the day; put their daily food allowance in a bowl that they can access at all times. One idea is that you could scatter different safe puzzle feeders throughout the house to give them extra stimulation. It can be expensive to buy lots of feeders, but you can easily make your own puzzle feeders by carefully puncturing kibble-sized holes in plastic bottles – your cats will have to figure out how to push them around to get the kibble to fall out.
How much are you feeding your cat?
During different stages of your cat’s life, it will have different nutritional requirements that need to be met. It is therefore important that you select the most appropriate diet for their stage of life; kitten, adult, senior.
But how do you know how much to feed? Every diet will have a different feeding guideline, so check the back of the bag to ensure you know how much food your cat should have every day. If you aren’t sure, you could ask your local retailer or give our team of nutritional advisors a call and they will be able to work it out with you. James Wellbeloved offers two delicious light cat foods in fish and turkey which are specially designed to promote a slow and steady weight loss.
Once you know how much to feed – how do you measure it out? Traditionally, we have always used measuring cups. However, the best way to ensure that your cat receives the correct amount of food is to weigh the food out every day, on digital scales.
Weight your cat's food it can make a huge difference to your pet’s weight and body shape
How to help your cat stay a healthy weight and shape
For a more in-depth look at some of our best ways to help keep your cat at an ideal weight and body shape, check out our tips here. Ultimately, it’s always important to remember that cats have evolved to make the most of feeding opportunities so they can stave off hunger while prowling the wilds. Even if they sleep on a comfy cushion and stay on the sofa when it rains, we as responsible owners must make sure they don’t over-eat.
So, count the treats, encourage exercise and don’t give in to their pleading. Your vet should always help monitor your cat’s weight and any developing health issues, but the more we can do to care for our pets as owners, the happier and healthier they will be.