We've all been there: The cat loves food — really loves food. He or she can't seem to get enough, meowing, "Just one more treat, please." Next, the kitty walks for a short while before relaxing. Before long, it's the feline's bedtime. The cycle repeats itself until the next visit to the vet when the cat steps on the scale and — yikes! — the doc says he or she needs to slim down.
According to a 2016 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, approximately 59 percent of cats in the U.S. are overweight, so you're not alone if your cat has been packing on the pounds. We know it can be hard to acknowledge that your precious kitty needs to drop a few pounds. After all, kitties can be super lovable when they have a little extra fluff. But the truth is, it's really not good for a cat to be lugging around so much extra weight. In fact, the diseases we see in overweight pets are often strikingly similar to the diseases we see in overweight people, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The Right Way to Help Your Cat Lose Weight
The last thing we'd want is for our precious pets to suffer, so we were so glad to hear that owners can help play an important role in slimming their cats down, according to a new study published in the <a target="blank" href="https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/ajvr.79.2.181?journalCode=ajvr">American Journal of Veterinary Research_. Researchers found that the key to healthy weight loss in a cat was targeting a 1.5 percent body weight loss per week. In the study, this involved cutting food intake by 20 percent compared to a maintenance diet. But that was only the first reduction; the team of researchers needed to continue cutting food intake every week, especially since cats are not so active.
"When we go on a diet ourselves, we might lose a lot of weight in the first few weeks and then hit a road block. Same with these animals," researcher Kelly Swanson, PhD, says. "We had to keep going down, but it can be hard to convince a pet owner to do that. You might get owners to reduce intake from 60 to 50 grams per day, but we're telling them they might have to go to 45 or 40 grams. We got really low, but we were monitoring them so they were healthy."
If you're wondering whether your cat will be mad about being on a diet, a study in <a target="blank" href="http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878%2815%2900194-X/pdf">The Journal of Veterinary Behavior_ suggests that owners shouldn't be too worried; after an eight-week diet, cats in the study actually showed _more+ affection to their owners after being fed.
If you suspect your kitty might be overweight, talk to your vet about a diet or other treatment that might be appropriate for the situation, so you can give your pet a hand sooner rather than later. As cute as chubby cats might be, their health is far more important. Yes, giving your pets delicious food is a way you show your love — but taking care of their well-being is the real ultimate way to show love.
h/t Eureka Alert