Homepage At-Home Pet Care Preventing Feline Obesity: A Weighty Topic for Vets and Cat Owners

March 2, 2023

A fat orange cat sitting with his back legs stretched out before him

Preventing Feline Obesity: A Weighty Topic for Vets and Cat Owners

A fat orange cat sitting with his back legs stretched out before him
Photo by svklimkin on Unsplash

A 2021 study conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) shows that 45% of U.S. cat owners believe their pets are overweight. This additional weight increases your cat’s risk of developing diabetes mellitus, arthritis, a liver syndrome known as hepatic lipidosis, and even dying young.

Preventing Pet Obesity

Because feline obesity is easier to prevent than it is to treat, it is important to carefully follow your cat’s diet regimen, starting as early as six months old. Most kittens are neutered between six months to one year of age, a time that corresponds to when there is a natural decrease in your cat’s growth rate and energy needs.

That means that, after neutering, you should immediately start decreasing your kitten’s calories. Some pet-food companies are starting to address this issue by offering “neutered cat” formulas that are lower in energy but still high in minerals and vitamins for young, growing kittens. You should also offer the diet in carefully controlled portions and on a feeding schedule instead of leaving unlimited quantities out for them.

The Fat in Your Cat

If you’re not sure your cat is overweight, review APOP’s cat weight charts to compare your pet’s body shape and determine how overweight your pet might be.

Though several equations are used to determine your pet’s energy requirement, a good general rule to ensure weight loss is to feed your pet 80% of his current food. This 80% rule works well if your cat is only a little overweight, but for the obese, a diet change is needed.

Diets for Obese Cats

Prescription foods designed for weight loss restrict the calories and adjust the concentration of all other nutrients accordingly. These diets restrict calories, increase fiber to stimulate the feeling of being “full,” increase the protein-to-calorie ratio, and are lower in fat. Treats are allowed but should not constitute more than 10% of your pet’s daily caloric intake. Multiple small feedings help increase your pet’s metabolic rate and might help reduce begging.

Here are some prescription foods I recommend for feline obesity:

And here are some non-prescription foods:

I recently recommended timed feeding to a friend for her overweight cat. She commented that she already does timed feeding — every time she comes home and every time he begs. That was not what I meant! Instead, plan 3-4 feeding times each day, and be consistent in keeping to that schedule.

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This copyrighted article first appeared in the Residences section of The Palm Beach Post. It may have been updated since its original publication.