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How to help a cat lose weight

The essentials

  • Talk to a veterinarian first — Before putting your cat on a diet, consult a medical professional. This way, you’ll know how to keep your cat healthy while it sheds the extra pounds.
  • Mental health is just as important as physical health — New routines may take a toll on a cat’s mental health. Increase playtime and diversify its sources of enrichment.
  • Stay the course no matter what — When starting a diet, your cat may complain and act out. Know what to expect and find ways to handle the behavior changes without resorting to treats or extra helpings.

When does your cat need to lose weight?

Your veterinarian will be the best judge, but there are some telltale signs that your cat may need a diet. 

  • You can’t feel their ribs. Ribs that aren’t palpable to the touch on either side of your cat’s torso might be a sign your cat’s overweight .  Extra padding often develops naturally with age — just like humans — but it’s a concern for younger cats. Note: You shouldn’t be able to see your shorthaired cat’s ribs; that could be a sign of an underweight cat.
  • They’re less active than usual. If your cat no longer seems interested in chasing, pouncing, or jumping, it may be difficult for them to move around. Those extra pounds create further problems over time as overweight cats are more likely to experience joint and heart problems plus fatty liver disease as they age.
  • They experience a change in breathing. Rapid breathing can occur after your cat engages in strenuous activity, sneezes, or coughs up a hairball, or if it’s abnormally warm. But if your cat starts panting or wheezing while stationary, a diet may be necessary to help them breathe easier and reach an ideal weight.

4 ways to help a cat lose weight

A change in food, exercise, and, in some cases, medication may be what the doctor orders. Your vet may recommend one of the following options or a combination of steps.

  1. Cut down on dry food — Even the brands of dry food that claim to have “scientifically proven health benefits” or are labeled “weight loss” on the packaging may still be calorically dense . Generally speaking, most obese cats are over-fed dry food. One of the ways how to help a cat lose weight includes serving small meals with half portions .
  2. Play more — Encouraging your fat cat to play more keeps it engaged and active. There’s an endless supply of cat toys that are fun for both the owner and the pet to use — swap them out daily to keep cats interested. You can also get tunnels and trees that cats can play with by themselves. You can even put your cat’s food dish on top of a tree or counter so they have to exercise to get it.
  3. Go for a walk — If the weather’s nice, why not strap your kitty into a harness and take them for some fresh air? In addition to providing more physical activity for your kitty, the mental stimulation from experiencing the great outdoors can help them avoid eating due to boredom. Some cats might get anxious outdoors, especially if they’re lifelong indoor cats.
  4. Give them meds — Although there’s no safe weight loss medication for cats, consult your vet to see if they recommend treatments for other health conditions your cat may be facing, especially an older cat that’s been chubby for a while. Health issues such as joint or digestive problems, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, or heart disease can make exercise more difficult for cats.

Diets rich in omega-3s

Consider introducing omega-3 fatty acids into your cat’s routine. Fresh foods like ZipZyme Omega may strengthen your cat’s immune response and restore balance to their metabolism. ZipZyme is grown from ocean algae and is natural, safe, and plant-based. It’s a source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the most important omega-3 fatty acid.

DHA has been shown to raise the body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) meaning that more calories are burned, even at rest, which makes the DHA in ZipZyme™ an effective weight management tool. When your cat’s metabolism is balanced and cravings are curbed, your overweight cat might find it easier to move around. Activity and play may lead to a happier, lighter cat.

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What to expect when putting your cat on a diet — and what to do next

Cats don’t get a say in whether they go on a diet. It’s not a committee decision — they just have to live with a little less food in their bowl every day, and you’ll have to deal with some behaviors ranging from mildly annoying to nearly unbearable.

Expect a lot of complaining

Cats are known to meow when it’s close to their regularly scheduled feeding time. It’s one of their only ways of communicating with us, and you can expect to hear it a lot more when they receive fewer feedings or less food. Find a way to put up with more vocalizations without giving them more food. Divert their attention with toys or a brushing session. Otherwise, your cat may be conditioned into bad habits that could prevent them from reaching an ideal weight.

Guard the people food

Cats are natural scavengers and extremely effective hunters. Therefore, the most likely behavior after being served less food is to try and get some for themselves. If you have an outdoor cat, closely monitor their outdoor time and possibly use a harness to prevent them from attacking birds or rodents. Keep any household food covered and stored out of your cat’s reach. Some especially daring cats may try to steal your food from under your nose, so you may need to put them in another room during meals.

Have a good bedtime routine

Cats don’t like to go to bed hungry, and you might find it difficult to go to bed yourself if an agitated cat is running around your house. For this reason, you should ensure that the largest meal you feed your cat is close to bedtime. Playtime throughout the day may lead to a sleepier cat at night. Furthermore, it doesn’t hurt to add a bit more playtime towards the end of the day to tire your kitty out.

Frequently asked questions

How can I get my indoor cat to lose weight?

The most effective way to help an indoor cat lose weight is to restrict their consumption of dry food. Also, spend more time playing with your cat and introduce toys like cat tunnels and cat trees.

What should I feed my overweight cat?

Healthy wet food is ideal because it typically has fewer calories, although you can also supplement with small portions of dry food that contain natural ingredients. Ask your vet if any multivitamins or medications need to be mixed into your cat’s food. Consider adding a natural food like ZipZyme Omega to provide the nutrient your kitty needs to reach and maintain a healthy weight so they can always be your active, engaged, and vital sidekick.

Can walking your cat help them lose weight?

Yes! In addition to providing exercise, walking your obese cat provides mental enrichment that can prevent them from boredom or loneliness-inspired snacking. Remember to put a good harness on your cat before each walk.