Healthy-weight cats are happier, more agile, and tend to live longer. This can absolutely be the year you help your Fat Cat become a lean, mean, ribbon-chasing machine. Here are 18 ways to help your cat lose weight this year.
1. Talk to your vet. Talking your your cat’s vet is the best first step. They can help you assess your cat’s starting point and any health concerns that might get in the way of progress.
2. Count calories. Did you know the average indoor cat needs only between 20-30 calories per pound of body weight per day? Check out your current cat food to see how it stacks up and start measuring at every single meal.
3. Look into diet food. Yes, cat food comes in “diet” versions! They’re usually lower in calories and high in nutrients; if you do make the switch, do it gradually over the course of about two weeks so your cat doesn’t go on a hunger strike.
4. Consider canned. Canned food can be healthier? Cats tend to love canned food, and the controlled portions can make it more difficult to overfeed. Be sure to look at calorie content before you buy.
5. Cut the grazing. Cats tend to be more into “grazing” on dry food all day than dogs, but this might be leading to overeating. Try to wean your cat off the habit by leaving her food out for an hour at mealtimes, then taking it away.
6. Nix the treats. We know! Your cats love treats. But they can hide a sneaky amount of calories, and most pet owners give them multiple times a day. Exchange treats for playtime...and don’t even get us started on giving your cat human food.
7. Make your cat hunt. Move your cat’s food to a new location every time you feed her. Not only will the thrill of the hunt excite her, she’ll get some additional exercise searching the premises.
8. Consider a feeding ball. If your cat still loves dry food, pick up a feeding ball that forces her to work for each nugget. She’ll have fun pushing the ball around and get significantly more exercise while doing so.
9. Create more “bursts.” Cats are designed to exercise in short, anaerobic bursts, not in long stretches like dogs. Mini play sessions throughout the day are the best way to rack up more of these.
10. Make playtime engaging. Don’t expect a lazy cat to play with herself. String on a rope, foil balls, laser pointers...they can all make for a quick, fun session of play and bonding.
11. Try walking your cat. No...seriously! Some cats love being walked on a leash because they’re happy to be outside. Try it a few times indoors before you brave the great unknown together.
12. Keep the water flowing. Sometimes your cat feels “hungry” when she’s really just bored. If playtime doesn’t work, break out a fresh bowl of water to give her something to consume.
13. Put some climbing posts out. Your cat’s not a climber? Maybe she would be if she had a climbing post! Giving your cat some low-intensity exercise options might encourage her to move more than you think.
14. Schedule play. It’s easy to get too tired to play with your cat...schedule it in your calendar like you would anything else!
15. Add in L-Carnitine. L-Carnitine supplements have been shown in several studies to give cats’ metabolism a boost by interacting with the fatty acids in her liver to help convert fat cells into energy. Talk to your vet about whether L-Carnitine (or other supplements) make sense for your cat.
16. Ignore her begging. It’s so hard to ignore a begging cat! Know you’re doing what’s best for her by sticking to the feeding schedule and not overfeeding. Cuddle, play, or pet your cat instead of giving her a tasty treat.
17. Check for progress. You should be able to tell whether your cat is losing weight by her physical size, ease, and stamina. Also be sure to weigh her regularly; if she hasn’t lost 0.5-1lb in the first month, the plan needs modifying.
18. Talk to your vet (again.) The key to keeping off weight is consistency! Talk to your vet about risk factors your cat might have as she ages, and about what you can do daily to give your cat a healthier, leaner life.