Time To Put Kitty On A Diet?

By Nora Simmons

We laugh about our fat cats, but it’s no joke that 45 percent of cats in the US are overweight or obese, and that the incidence of feline diabetes has increased fivefold in the last 30 years. Like their tubby human counterparts, cats gain weight because of lack of exercise and a poor diet, and those extra pounds can lead to diabetes, liver disease, heart and renal failure, and arthritis. Help your flabby feline lose weight and keep it off with this diet plan from Regina Schwabe, DVM, of Pamplin Animal Wellness Services in Pamplin, Virginia.

1. Before putting your puss on a diet, have your vet test his kidney, liver, and thyroid functions.

2. Ditch the dry food, which is too high in carbs for cats, and think the “Catkins” diet: 40 percent to 45 percent protein, 40 percent to 45 percent fat, and only 3 percent to 5 percent carbs. A high-quality canned or raw food is best, but make the change slowly because if Garfield goes on a hunger strike, he can quickly develop feline fatty-liver syndrome, which can be deadly.

3. Feed him about 2 percent of his body weight in three to four small daily meals, and provide plenty of fresh water.

4. Get him off his rump as much as possible. “One strategy,” says Schwabe, “is to place the food in several small dishes scattered about the house to encourage searching behavior.”