Written by: Judy Karnia, DVM
Keeping your cat at a healthy weight is a vital part of keeping him or her fit. Being overweight or obese is detrimental to the health of your cat. Neutering and keeping cats indoors has led to increased life span and better health, however, they have also led to decreased metabolism levels and activity levels. Add overfeeding of calories and carbohydrates, and we have a large percentage of overweight cats.
The best way to evaluate your cat’s size is by a body condition score rather than actual weight. A body condition score is a scale from one to nine with five being the ideal condition. We check this score each time we see your cat.
What Should I Feed My Cat?
You can help your cats have a happier and healthier life by limiting their calories and providing proper food. It is best to feed a food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Cats are carnivores and need animal protein. Look at the ingredients in the cat food and choose one with a meat source listed as the first ingredients. Many cats become accustomed to what they eat as kittens so provide a little variety when they are young.
All cats should eat mainly canned food to provide enough protein and water. In the wild, cats do not drink much water but they get their moisture intake from their prey. You can help prevent urinary problems and obesity by making the canned food the main portion of your cat’s diet. You can add a small amount of dental kibble or treats to help exercise and clean their teeth.
How Many Times Should You Feed Your Cat Per Day?
A recent study showed that cats that eat multiple small meals each day lose weight more quickly than cats that had the same amount of calories provided just once daily. This relates well to the natural condition in cats in the wild, catching and eating a few small rodents throughout their day. Providing a few small meals each day will also prevent that bowl of dried out cat food sitting in your kitchen.
Talk to your veterinarian about the best diet for your cat and how many calories you should be feeding each day. Remember that losing weight is difficult so be proactive to prevent unwanted weight gain. Also remember that if your cat is trying to get your attention, she may just want more attention rather than food or treats.