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Three Steps to Help Your Overweight Cat

cat weight loss

Is My Cat Overweight?

As we humans get larger, our cats do too. And the figures are nothing to scoff at: 50 percent of today’s kitties are overweight .

“Obesity in cats is mirroring obesity in people and it’s due to too much food and not enough exercise,” says Dr. Karyn Collier, DVM, chief medical officer at Saint Francis Veterinary Center for Animal Physical Therapy in Woolwich Township, N.J.

“We humans enjoy food so we want to see the same with our cats. We’re killing them with kindness. If cats don’t dive in [to their food] we add things like gravy or some chicken or beef just to see our cat eat. It may be that that cat is just not hungry right then.”

An overweight cat is no laughing matter. Too many pounds can cause problems ranging from heart disease to diabetes and arthritis.

Fortunately, making a few simple changes to your cat’s food and lifestyle can allow her to shed some pounds. Read on for some suggestions…

1. Turn to Scientific Methods

Check out the tips for weight assessment using tools such as the Healthy Weight Protocol. This is a scientific method for determining a cat’s ideal weight. Your vet will take four measurements of your cat, which are then used to assess her body fat index through a computer program. Your vet can then tell you exactly how overweight your cat is and her ideal weight.

2. Ask Your Vet

When you take your cat for her annual checkup, ask your veterinarian to do a body condition score so you know how your cat is doing and how much weight she needs to lose, if any.

You can also use these tools online, which are often provided with handy pictures of how your cat looks and what her ideal body looks like. Scoring ranges from one to five or one to 9, and a cat with a perfect weight will have a number that falls in the middle.

3. Use Your Eyes — and Hands

Check out your cat yourself: “You should be able to feel her ribs without an excessive amount of fat on them,” says Dr. Collier. “You should be able to count them.”

Looking from above, your cat’s chest should be wider and the flank — the area between the ribs and the pelvis — should be indented. If you are standing to the side of the cat, the chest should tuck up as it goes into the abdomen.

“If you have a hard time finding the ribs and you really have to press, the cat is getting heavy,” says Dr. Collier. “If you’re starting to lose the indentation on the waist and the tuck up to the abdomen, the cat is overweight.”