Last updated: September 2, 2016
Is my cat fat? If my cat is fat, why is my cat fat? Is my cat too skinny? Would a skeleton have more meat on it? How much should I feed my cat? How do I make my cat look like the feline equivalent of Mr And Miss Universe? If my cat is the right weight for his height and age, how do I keep him that way? Read on.
Special Foods for Special Cats
My cat is an (approximately) eight-year-old neutered male with a svelte figure and a bad attitude (normal for a cat!) He’s just on the edge between prime and senior, like an early middle aged man without man boobs. He has a slight problem with his waterworks which we try not to talk about too much in case it embarrasses him. (He’s very sensitive!) As a result, he has to have a special medicated cat food for cats with urine problems. However, this isn’t the only problem to which cats are susceptible, so there are many different diets for different diseases or disabilities, such as thyroid problems and diabetes. A diabetic cat needs a diet high in protein and very low in carbohydrates, plus insulin supplements. How much should I feed my cat depends on his health and a lot of other factors.
I’m Getting On a Bit!
A senior or geriatric cat needs special attention. Like us, older cats are prone to the effects of old age, and that means heart disease, arthritis, kidney and liver disease, and many more. Needless to say, your vet is the go-to guy for all such health inquiries, many of which can be helped by the cat’s diet.
How Many Times a Day?
My cat eats when he’s hungry and will refuse food if he’s not, but there are cats who will eat, just because they can, so if you have one of those you have to have a plan. You may be feeding your cat too much, so a good idea is to leave out his breakfast, let him eat as much as he wants, and take the bowl away. Cats who are just plain greedy will often have health problems like joint and skin conditions, heart and liver complaints, and therefore a short life span. Cats can also be fat for other reasons outside their control, though.
Imagine you’re the only cat in a houseful of dogs who are kept in the yard and try to attack you every time you went outside? I just wouldn’t go outside. I’d stay inside and write cat blogs, but cats can’t do that, so often, if you leave their food bowl out all day, they will just eat and sleep.
Seasonal Weight Gain
My cat loses his usual svelte figure every winter. Around October we can see the pounds creeping on as his sleep time increases and his food bowl empties more quickly. However don’t miss out his meals: this is natural, and come March or April he loses his winter flab and becomes his usual slim self again. Mother Nature thinks of EVERYTHING!
Obesity is a problem in older cats especially. Cats are natural hunters, and in the wild chasing down prey burns a lot of calories, as does surviving in cold and hostile conditions. When you adopt a pet you give him everything he needs in the way of food and comfort, thereby rendering his calorie-burning exercises unnecessary, so unless he’s being stimulated in some other way he has no need to exert himself at all. This is a Fat Cat recipe in the making, and before you know it you have a very Tubby Tabby!
How Do I Know How Fat is Too Fat?
A fat cat is defined as one who’s twenty percent above his ideal weight, but you can usually tell just by looking at him. He’s roundish. (Yes, I know round is a shape, but we’re thinking more ‘hourglass’ here!) He can’t quite get that jumping thing right anymore and the birds in the garden are all safe. Your cat is too fat! Look at him. He should be cat-shaped, not soccer ball shaped! In other words, he should have a “waist” when you look at him from above. If you run your hands from shoulders to hips and you can’t feel any ribs, your cat has a problem. Run them from the abdomen to pelvis and you should feel a dent. Put your hands on either side of his chest. Still no ribs? Uh-oh! Time to lose weight!
Putting Your Cat On a Diet
Cats aren’t like us; they can’t wake up one morning, whip out the measuring tape, shriek in horror then toss out the peanut butter. They need us, their loving owners, to do it for them.
The first thing to do is to get the vet to give your cat a once-over, checking for any medical conditions that may contribute to weight gain. He’ll also enquire about the cat’s living conditions and exercise level. Having done that he’ll plan a program to help your cat lose weight.
Cats can function fairly well on dry cat food, but if they are carnivores, which means they need meat, so if they eat too much of it the excess is less likely to be burned off and more likely to be stored as fat, therefore four small helpings of tinned meat a day will make it easier for your moggy to regain his former shapely silhouette.
My cat is quite safe to get out as we’re surrounded by a high-security fence, and if yours is too then let him go out and encourage him to play. Cats are most active at twilight, so that’s the best time to let him run around. If he’s an indoor cat, establish play routines and stick to them.
Don’t expect miracle results right away. Cats take time to get used to changes, and so do we. Crash diets don’t work for humans or cats! It’s always best to take it slowly. Your cat will have a longer, healthier life.
Treats – Yes Or No?
Yes, in moderation. Catnip and wheat grass are both acceptable to cats and are very low in calories, so on a weight loss plan, they’re perfectly fine, although cats eat grass to aid digestion so they may puke a bit! Ask your vet about this and make sure whatever you give them isn’t toxic.
And remember, fat or thin, old or young, you can never give your cat too much love!