Recognise the signsA PFMDSA 2018 report last year from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals found that 68% of cat owners were unaware that their pet was overweight or obese, so developing an eye for the signs is a good habit to get into. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association scores body condition in cats from 1-9. Ideally, their fat coverage should allow you to feel their ribs with a gentle touch and you should be able to visibly see their waist from above and a slight abdominal tuck from the side. A vet can show you in how to do this.
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Get a specialist dietGetting the diet right early on is key to preventing obesity, according to Daniella Dos Santos, president of the British Veterinary Association. Depending on the breed, size, age and lifestyle of the cat, they will have particular needs. A fully formulated diet accredited by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association is best because it has gone through all the nutritional tests needed for a balanced diet. Dietary control is key, says Dos Santos, as it is easy to end up overfeeding them. “When they’re sleeping they’re not using many calories, so we need to adjust for that in terms of the type and volume of food we’re feeding them.” Regular weight clinics are also an effective way to track progress with your vet and change their diet accordingly.
Why do they do that? When dogs kick after going to the bathroom, they are using the scent glands on their paws to further mark their territory.
Limit the treats“People tend to forget that treats aren’t the best thing for them and they have a calorie count of their own, so they need to be factored in with the rest of their food,” says Dos Santos. As for the infamous table scraps and leftovers? “The calorie requirements for a cat are much lower than for a human,” she adds. “So even foods you would think are very healthy for humans, such as chicken breast, is a huge amount of calories for a cat.”
Make them work for their foodMaking your cat work to find their food, using scatter feeding and puzzle feeding is also a good way to get them to be more active. Cats Protection recommends placing some of their daily rations inside feeding balls and encouraging them to exercise by playing with fishing rod toys and light pointers.
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With a well-formulated diet, portion control to suit their lifestyle and daily exercise, all informed by a vet, it should become more manageable to get your cat back to a healthy weight.