Have you noticed there’s a bit more of your cat to love lately? You’re not alone: according to a 2013 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 30% of cats in America are overweight, and 27% are obese. Housecats tend to lead very comfortable lives, with easily accessible food and rooms filled with places they love to nap. This surplus of food and rest can lead kitties to put on a little extra weight, which can be harder for them to lose since, unlike dogs, most cats can’t go on daily walks or take trips to the park. But fear not: feline weight loss far from impossible. Here are some simple tips and tricks from PetMD and Everyday Health that will help your cat slim down in no time!
Stop “free choice” feeding
Many cat owners employ the “free choice” method of feeding, which means that food is always available in a cat’s bowl so they can eat whenever they want throughout the day. However, this unstructured feeding can sometimes lead owners to feed cats more than they realize and cats to overeat. Instead, try feeding your cat 2-4 smaller meals throughout the day, and make sure you’re feeding your cat the appropriate amount of food for its size. Discuss with your veterinarian to figure out whether this method would benefit your cat and, if so, exactly how much you should be feeding him or her. And keep in mind that transitioning from free choice feeding to a structured schedule may cause some distress for cats who are used to having food available 24/7.
Cats don’t have Amylase, the enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates in other animals, like dogs and humans. This means that when a cat eats carbs, it’s much harder for their bodies to digest their food efficiently. Since many mass-produced cat foods are loaded with carbs, it’s easy for a cat to pack on weight from eating them. Try switching to a high-protein diet — cats’ bodies are made to take in protein, so they are able to digest foods with meat in them much more easily than carbs.
Give fewer treats
We know, we know! Most cat owners love to reward their feline friends with a treat now and then, but most treats are loaded with carbs and sugars, which aren’t doing anything for your cat’s figure. When you want to show your cat some love, trying giving them small pieces of cooked chicken or fish instead.
Get a cat tower
Cats love to climb, and the addition of a multi-story cat tower to your home will give them a place to do it (without ruining your curtains)! You can buy a cat tower, or you can even make your own out of cardboard boxes. For some extra encouragement, try placing small treats on the tower to motivate your kitty to climb.
Round up some toys
You can head to the store to buy some toys for your cat, but you’ll find that many cats will be happy to play with whatever you can find around the house — empty boxes, paper sacks, ping pong balls, even crumpled-up receipts can get your cat up and moving! Avoid toys that go on your hands or fingers, this can cause your cat to mistake your hand for a toy. The best toys are those that can be climbed in, tossed or chased. But if you still feel like buying your cat a present, many retailers sell multi-use wands that come with different toy attachments. It’s a versatile item that will keep your cat entertained. But be sure to let your cat “capture” their toy to keep them from becoming frustrated!
Send them hunting for treats
Place treats throughout the house to keep your cat on the move. And for cleverer cats, try a puzzle toy that will require a little extra work from your cat to get the treats inside.
Find a friend
Nobody likes losing weight alone — adding a second cat to the mix can help motivate yours to exercise! Along with the added benefits of companionship, adding another cat to your home can help to keep both animals playful and active. The Animal Rescue League has many fabulous felines waiting for their forever home. Stop by today, or take a look at our website to see if any of our adoptables would be a good fit for your home. If you aren’t in the Des Moines area, check out your local shelter to find your cat’s new chum.