While you may be fighting the “Battle of the Bulge,” you may need to start Kitty on her own weight loss program. After all, she’s probably been eating more while watching you eat more during the last number of months.
The good news is that with more quality time with our pets there is plenty of time to make healthy lifestyle improvements for both you and your fur family member. Since it is still summer, it’s the best time all year to get active while establishing new healthy eating routines for you both.
As you probably know, getting in shape isn’t easy and dieting should always be done in a healthy manner. Well, the same goes for Kitty. Before starting her on a new diet regimen, first take her to see the vet. A diet should be a collaboration between you and her vet. Any diet that is too restrictive or produces weight loss too quickly is dangerous to your feline and can result in fatty liver disease.
Your vet will determine how much weight Kitty should lose based upon her body condition score which is found by observing how easily the vertebrae and ribs can be felt. Next, the vet will decide her target weight and the daily calories needed in relation to her RER, or Resting Energy Requirement. By reducing calories to 80% of their RER, cats should lose about 1-2% of their body weight per week. This is the recommended rate for healthy weight loss and so their body can best adapt.
Next, the vet will help you figure out the optimal frequency of feeding and portion sizes. Weigh Kitty weekly. If weight loss is above 2%, increase calories by 10%. If weight loss is under 1%, reduce calories by 5-10%. Most diets will be either high fiber/low fat or high protein/low carbohydrate. Both are designed to keep Kitty feeling full for longer. Also, wet food with high water content is great as it increases the volume of food and aids digestion without adding calories. The following are some weight loss tips to help increase Kitty’s activity level while you decrease her food intake:
Exercise: Get her running up and down on her Armarkat cat tree! Cats love playing in vertical spaces. Schedule regular playtimes with the assistance of wand toys and laser chases to keep her moving. Puzzle toys and feeders are good in that she has to work to locate her treats.
Speaking of Treats: Treat balls and food puzzles dispense her food slowly while providing stimulation and activity. Treats should not be withheld, but they can be limited. Check that they are balanced and nutrient rich, but make sure they do not account for more than 10% of her daily calories. Cut them back slowly if needed.
Slow Down Feedings: A slow feeding bowl will encourage Kitty to eat slowly while stimulating her senses. These bowls also help in preventing gastrointestinal upsets like vomiting from consuming too much, too fast.
Hopefully, our new normal will exit when the pandemic finally subsides. When social distancing and face masks have become a thing of the past, Kitty’s new eating and exercise regimens will continue into brighter times. Now, is the perfect time to implement these improvements to lifestyle and health for you both.
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