Health & Nutrition | Cats | January 3, 2014

Trimming your cat’s waistline

A soft looking cat

Did you know that more than 50% of cats are substantially heavier than their ideal body weight? Sometimes it can be hard for pet parents to determine if their cat is overweight, because not everyone completely understands what a cat in healthy weight looks like.

Here are some simple tips that can help:

  • A cat that is a healthy weight will have a waist behind his ribs. You should be able to feel his ribs, but not see them, and he should have a minimal “paunch” in his belly area.
  •  A cat with an ideal weight will still have an “abdominal tuck”, where his stomach area is slightly smaller than his rib cage, but it should not be deep. Emotional attachment to our pets can bring in a challenge as sometimes parents can’t resist feeding that extra kibble when those big liquid eyes are beseeching them; this is why cats can easily become overweight.

Risks

Being overweight can have some serious consequences for our little kitties, such as diabetes, reduced activity levels, struvite formation, decreased grooming habits, less overall human and life interaction, and even a decreased lifespan.

Solutions

If you are trying to help your kitty shed some pounds, you can follow traditional methods of weight loss by feeding a diet with low fat content and increased dietary fiber. This allows cats to consume more food while eating fewer calories. The role of protein in weight management can also be very effective.

High protein diets

Although protein supplies the same amount of calories as carbohydrates, gram for gram, the different way in which these calories are burned is of great importance in weight reduction diets. The thermogenic “heating” action used to burn protein calories requires more energy than carbohydrates. Protein also helps to make your cat feel fuller than carbohydrates, so less willpower from pet parents is needed to resist overfeeding. Diets that contain approximately 35% or 45% of energy from protein result in an overall higher weight loss of body weight per week, compared to a higher carbohydrate lower protein diet.

Canned food

Feeding your cat a high protein canned food, instead of dry food, is also a promising strategy. This may be due to the water content providing less calories, resulting in much lower food consumption.

TIP: Cats tend to become attached to particular flavours and textures, so it’s ideal to begin feeding a canned diet at a young age.