I recently took my kitties in to the vet for their annual checkup, where we discovered that Kona, whom we’ve always known was a pretty big guy, is verging on obese. He weighs a solid 18.5 lbs, and our veterinarian suggested that he lose 4 lbs, at the very minimum!
We were a little perplexed as to how we could cut Kona’s weight down. We do not over feed the cats, in fact over a year ago we decreased the amount of kibble they get, but their weight has still managed to climb! They each get ¼ cup of kibble twice daily, and they very rarely get treats (those are saved for traumatic events, like car rides and nail trims!). They are also so lazy! They love the idea of playing with string toys and laser pointers, but after about 45 seconds they realize that is too tiring, and they would rather sit and watch you play with the toys instead.
So, I started doing a little research to see what my next step might be. One website suggested counting calories instead of going by the suggested serving size on the side of the kibble bag. The average kitty should consume 20 calories per pound to maintain its body weight. If you are trying to get your kitty to lose weight, than try reducing the amount by 2 lbs/40 cals per day. The calorie count is usually on the side of the bag with the suggested serving sizes, but if it is not, check out the manufacturer’s website! You do want to use caution when reducing the quantity of food you are providing your kitty with. If you drop the amount too low, you run the risk of them not getting enough of the essential nutrients that they need. Sometimes it is a better idea to switch the type of kibble you are feeding them, opposed to decreasing the quantity.
If changing the quantity is not working for your kitty, or you are planning simply try switching brands, you may want to check out kibble specifically developed for weight management. You do want to be careful when choosing your brand though, some may drop the fat and fiber content dramatically. This will reduce the calorie count of the kibble, but will also leave your kitty unsatisfied, and feeling hungry.
I have also heard a lot of people suggest switching to a wet food diet. Canned food is typically moderate in its fat content, and is higher in protein and lower in calories and carbohydrates than its dry food counterpart. Canned food also has the added benefit of a higher water content. This will promote bladder health, and prevent the development of crystals. I would like to switch Kona and his brother Dexter to a partially wet diet, maybe giving them wet in the morning, and dry in the evening. My only concern with a purely wet food diet is their teeth. Wet food is gunky, and can stick to a cats teeth adding to tooth decay, whereas hard food helps to scrape the excess food and debris from the teeth. Our kitties currently eat a brand of kibble designed for dental health, and I would hate to see their dental hygiene deteriorate!
Adding fiber to your kitty’s diet can also help! You can do this by giving them a spoonful of canned pumpkin, or adding supplements like Benefiber to your kitty’s food. Similarly to when we eat fiber, this will help the kitty to feel full for longer, and also promotes healthy digestion.
Exercise is obviously important when it comes to weight loss, but what is less obvious is how to get your kitty to exercise if they are lazy (as mine both are!). Some interesting suggestions were to purchase a tricky treat ball. It is a hard hollow ball with holes in it, you put the kibble inside and the kitties have to bat the ball around to get the food out. I think we are going to give this a try – but Kona is not overly food motivated, so if he has to work for it, I think he might just throw in the towel and let his brother do all of the dirty work. Another suggestion was to place the litter box and the food and water dishes on different floors of your home if you have the space. This will force the cats to go up and down the stairs several times throughout the day. We actually just moved to a two story home a couple of months ago, and have a similar set up to this. Also, Kona absolutely loves racing people up and down the stairs (which is adorably annoying.), so we thought the move would do wonders for his belly, but we have yet to see any major weight loss due to this added exercise.
In summary, I think I am going to try switching the cats to a partially wet food diet, and introducing a tricky treat ball to make them work for their dry food! I will weigh the boys in a couple of months and update you with the progress!!
-Please remember that I got all of my information from the internet! If you have serious concerns or questions about your kitty’s health and physique, be sure to direct them to your veterinarian!
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