Everyone knows Garfield’s penchant for lasagna has given him his distinctive shape, but if your cat is starting to look like one of his cousins, it may be time to start planning a weight control program. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than half of all cats and dogs in the country are obese or overweight, but by making a few changes to your cat’s diet and routine, you can help him or her lose weight.
Check the diet
Just as humans tend to shed pounds on a diet rich in proteins and low in carbohydrates, such as the popular Atkins or keto diet, the same is true of cats. In fact, cats tend to be healthier on such diets since they are carnivores by nature, says Dr. Donna Spector in an article on the Huffington Post. Dry cat foods tend to be very high in both calories and carbs, which can easily lead to weight gain in your furry friends. Changing their diet to focus more on meaty canned foods and restricting the carb-heavy dry food in their intake can help to drop some weight.
Run and play
Cats love to play and spend time with you, and setting aside some time each day to make sure they have a hearty and energetic play time can help to keep them more active and alert. Buying them a new toy to use or adding a laser pointer to play with can often catch a cat’s interest and get them running, jumping and attacking. If your feline friend enjoys catnip, it can also work wonders to get them up engaged and moving.
Nix the people food
Many cats love to beg while you make your food, especially if they smell something they might enjoy, like tuna or deli meats. However, your leftovers and table scraps tend to be high in calories, fats and sugars, and can sabotage your cat’s diet. Most cat treats, too, tend to be high in carbs like dry food, making them another caloric nightmare for a dieting kitty. There are a number of healthier alternatives, though, if you can’t give up treat time. For example, PetEducation.com notes that freezing or baking slices of canned food can make a delicious treat, as can unsalted, unbuttered popcorn. Broccoli and green beans are also good options. Several varieties of store-bought treats are also available that are marked “low calorie” and are a better alternative to traditional treats.
Before starting on any weight-loss program, be sure to consult with your cat’s veterinarian. Sudden changes in feeding patterns and behaviors can stress out your feline friend, and even cause serious complications, like liver disease or failure. Make some of these smart changes now to help your cat live a long and healthy life.