How to help your cat lose weight

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Has your moggie piled on the pounds this lockdown? Just like humans, cats are susceptible to weight gain through lack of movement and low stimulation. The Cats Protection said earlier this year that overweight cats are becoming an increasing problem, with research finding more than a quarter of cat owners admitting they had overfed their pet since the start of lockdown in March 2020.

Unsurprisingly to many cat owners, the also found that over a third of 2,000 cat owners surveyed said their moggie would visit a neighbour for a bonus dinner.

Maggie Roberts, Director of Veterinary Services for Cats Protection, said: “This survey suggests the extra time we’ve spent indoors with our cats has led to us over-indulging them, which owners did out of love or to make their feline feel like a family member.

“Sadly we are doing them more harm than good as overweight cats are at significant risk of diabetes, joint problems and urinary infections.

“At a time of year when many of us go on a diet, it’s advisable to ask your vet if your cat needs one too.”

How can I tell if my cat is overweight?

According to Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, there are several ways to tell if your feline may be a little chunkier than normal.

Their advice reads: “When stroking your cat, you should be able to feel their ribs easily but not see them through the skin.

“From above, when your cat is standing on all four paws you should be able to see your cat’s waistline dipping inwards where their ribs are.

“With an obese cat this might not be visible, and the stomach may bulge out around the ribs and look more rounded.”

How can I help my cat lose weight?

Putting your cat on a crash diet unfortunately won’t help, and can lead to problems.

If you think your cat is a little heavier than it should be, you should consult your vet before taking action.

Vets can develop personalised plans for your cat, including feeding and exercise advice.

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There are different needs for cats at different stages of life, so a one-size-fits-all plan won’t work.

As a general rule, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home advises: “Generally, it’s a good idea to offer your cat both wet and dry food.

“This should help to keep their teeth in better condition, and ensure they get moisture in their diet.

“Cats will tend to graze at food throughout the day, so giving them constant access to a measured daily amount of dry food is ideal, with wet food given once or twice a day.

“It’s best not to feed cats any human food, as some of it is toxic to cats.

“In terms of the amount, feeding guidelines are provided on all packets of cat food.

“Having your cat weighed regularly during health checks at the vet will help ensure your cat is being fed appropriately.”

Other options for helping your cat lose weight can include puzzle feeders – where your cat has to work to get the food, and scattering food around your house/gardens so they have to search to get a meal.

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