Warning: I am not a veterinarian. All advice I give should taken with a grain of salt, as with a lot of advice you may read online. I just like to help animals, through helping their pet parents, with the 19 years of experience I have gained by working in veterinary medicine.
Ultimately, you should consult your veterinarian before trying anything yourself at home.
Overweight cats are my favorite. Anytime I see one, I fall into a puddle of cuddly goo and want to love on them.
But, obese cats are extremely unhealthy and prone to some very dangerous, and costly, diseases.
Starting your cat on a diet now to keep them from getting diseases caused by being overweight is the healthiest and least costly, time saving, option for your and your cat.
Overweight cats are prone to getting Type-2 Diabetes.
You may notice them wanting to drink more often, crying at the water bowl to be filled, at the sink to drink from the faucet, or licking odd spots where there may be water.
My cat would lick the condensation off my water glass, which she never used to do.
If you notice that your cat is drinking more water than usual, urinating larger amounts, or you’re noticing unexplained weight loss, get them to a veterinarian right away. There is something going on that only a veterinarian’s care can diagnose and treat.
Diabetes can be extremely costly and time consuming for the pet parent.
Blood and urine tests, expensive insulin (up to $200 per vial!), needles, prescription food, and even an at home blood monitoring kit may be recommended. It’s healthier, and cheaper, to put your cat on a diet before they require costly, and sometimes lifelong, treatment.
Diabetes can also become a life threatening situation if it goes untreated or is unregulated.
There are also secondary issues that diabetic animals are more prone to getting, like urinary tract infections, blindness, and ketoacidocis to name a few.
Hepatic Lipidosis (Fatty Liver)
Hepatic Lipidosis occurs when your overweight cat stops eating, sometimes for unknown reasons.
The cat’s liver then starts to shut down and die due to the amount of fat surrounding the liver. Irreversible effects can happen quickly and you should act fast.
If your overweight cat, who typically loves to eat, stops eating for a day, 2 at the most, call your veterinarian and get them in right away. Don’t let it wait, the longer they go without eating, the more irreversible damage can happen.
Your cat may require hospitalization, the sooner you get them care the less damage will happen to the liver and the less amount of treatment, time, and money will be required to help your cat get better.
Starting your cat on a diet, and getting some weight off of them, before they get to that point will be easier on both you and your pet.
It is important to start your overweight cat on a diet and get them to loose some weight, but it needs to be a slow progression of weight loss. If they loose weight too quickly, you can inadvertently cause them to go into liver failure.
Make sure to keep a close eye on how much they are loosing (you can use your own scale at home to weigh them), a half of a pound or less a month is probably a safe goal to reach. As long as they are loosing some, and not gaining or just maintaining their current weight, you are on the right track.
Dieting for Cats:
If you don’t already,start measuring out the kibble, or canned food, based on the feeding guide located on the bag of food and feeding them the appropriate amount of measured food throughout the day, or morning and night, whatever schedule works for you.
Make sure to use a real measuring cup to measure out the food.
Canned food usually doesn’t have a feeding guide on the can, so you may need to do some online research.
Cats should be fed at least every 12 hours, some cats really like to have food whenever they want. That’s something you and your car are going to have to work out.
If measuring out the appropriate amount of food doesn’t work, or you’re not seeing much improvement over a month (weigh your cat so you can keep track), then try decreasing the amount of food slightly, or try feeding a diet/low calorie/indoor food.
You can purchase automatic feeders that hold a large amount of kibble, but only pour out a measured amount at the specified times you choose. These can be costly, and only for dry food, but helpful.
You can also exercise them by buying toys to get them to be more active. Play with your cat, if you don’t already. If you already play with them, do it more often.
Toys with feathers on strings are popular and balls that they can chase around the house when you’re not there, are helpful.
There are also toys that run on batteries, if your cat isn’t freaked out by it, it could be turned on before you leave for work and they usually shut off after a certain amount of time.
What I did to get my cat to loose weight:
My cat was 21 pounds when she was diagnosed with diabetes.
When I noticed her drinking more water and urinating larger amounts in the litter box, I knew something was wrong.
Expensive blood and urine tests confirmed her diabetes.
My cat is not big on playing with toys, she would just lay in the same spot and bat her paw at the toy without getting up.
I started feeding her a prescription canned only diet specifically for diabetic cats, this canned food has a restricted amount of carbohydrates. She got 1/2 of a 6oz can of food twice a day.
She went from 21 pounds to her current weight of 12 1/2 pounds over about a year. I took her blood sugar twice a day, every day. After about a month of her new diet, her blood sugar slowly went down to normal. I was able to stop the insulin, and the veterinarian eventually felt it safe to tell me I could stop testing her blood.
I still feed my cat 3oz of canned food twice a day, I no longer have to feed her the prescription diet canned food, but I do buy a quality food from a good brand.
***PLEASE NOTE*** This is a recommendation. If you are happy with your pet’s food, you do not have to change it. This is only only a recommendation.
If your cat is overweight and you want to try the canned diet method, talk to your veterinarian, or make sure to buy a quality food. I prefer Purina brand foods, but Hill’s, Eukanuba, or even Iams, are good diets to try.
This is what I use https://www.amazon.com/Purina-Senior-Entree-Flavor-Sampler/
I use the dry food on my other cats who are not at risk for diabetes https://www.amazon.com/Purina-Pro-Plan-Chicken-Formula/
I do not usually recommend Friskies, or other “grocery store” brand foods. Iams is the only brand you can purchase at the grocery store that I feel is a good enough quality to feed your cat on a regular basis.
In the “wild” (or stray/homeless) cats do not require a large amount of food. They have to hunt and then catch their meals, sometimes only surviving on a mouse or bird for a day or two, sometimes longer.
Keep that in mind when you’re feeding your cat. Their bodies do not require a large amount of food. Slowly and ultimately, they should only be eating up to 6oz of canned or 1/3 to 1/2 cup of dry food per day (this does vary based on the size, age, activity level, and health of your cat). Again, it is important to decrease their food slowly so that they don’t get ill effects from their dieting.
Overweight cats can also have a hard time cleaning themselves. Natural self bathers, cats love to be clean! Being overweight can keep them from keeping their fur from getting matted and becoming painful, pulling at their skin. It can also make them more prone to infections around their anus or vulva/penis, as well as lead to urinary tract infections.
The extra weight is also hard on their joints and spines, leading to early arthritis which, in cats, is very difficult to treat due to their peculiar make-up. There’s not much out there that’s safe for cats to use for pain on a consistent basis, other than glucosamine and chondroitin products which often don’t bring much relief when it gets severe.
If you have any questions, or ideas that you would like to see me write about, I would love to hear about it.