Cat obesity has become a serious and widespread health issue. A recent veterinary survey indicates that 29% of 8,000 cats are overweight or obese. Extra weight, even a pound or two, can lead to other, more serious health issues.
"Obesity can aggravate respiratory problems, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease," says Dr. Simon Starkey, PetSmart veterinary expert. "If an 8 pound cat were to gain 2 pounds that would be the same as a 125 pound person gaining 31.25 pounds. So while exercising is vital, watching your cat's diet and weight are just as important."
How Can Weight Control Cat Food Help?
Start your cat on a complete weight loss program that includes check-ups with your veterinarian, regular exercise (such as playing with mobile toys or chasing a laser pointer in moderation), and a high-quality food with less calories and fat. Low calorie cat food will have the proper amounts of protein, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals to prevent nutrient deficiencies and keep your cat healthy while they are losing weight.
Cat foods with more calories typically contain more fat and will tend to keep more weight and fat on your cat.
"When dealing with an overweight pet, the first inclination is to simply cut the portion of his current food," says Dr. Starkey. "However, this seldom results in successful weight loss. Cutting portions can cause your pet to feel hungry more often which can lead to begging and cause the Pet Parent to feel guilty about feeding smaller portions."
A reduction in food intake will also lead to a reduction in the consumption of essential vitamins and minerals. Unlike regular cat food, weight control foods have been balanced to provide adequate vitamins and minerals, allowing for weight loss through calorie reduction.
What Are the Different Types of Weight Control Cat Food?
Low calorie and low fat cat foods are recommended for weight loss while light and lean foods are usually recommended more for weight management or if your pet has a tendency to gain weight but is not yet overweight.
Foods that are labeled as light, lite, lean, low calorie, less, reduced calorie, low fat or reduced fat are regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and are defined as follows:
Light (also lite) and lean: Dry: 3,250 kcal/kg food, 10% fat. Moist, 950 kcal per kg food, 5% fat.
"Less Calories" or "Reduced Calories": The label must include the percentage of reduction and the product of comparison along with other information.
"Less Fat" or "Reduced Fat": Labels must include the percentage of reduction, product of comparison and maximum crude fat guarantee after the minimum crude fat guarantee in the mandatory guaranteed analysis information.
Other ways to support cat weight control
While feeding the right food and reducing treats is certainly an important part of cat weight control, portion control and exercise are key. Consult your veterinarian to help you develop a comprehensive weight loss plan that includes:
Determining the amount of weight your cat needs to lose
Setting an amount for daily caloric intake
Selecting a specific amount of exercise
Scheduling follow-up appointments to monitor progress and adjust calories and exercise as needed to reach the ideal weight
Avoiding high-calorie treats
The information used in this report is approved by PetSmart nutritionists and vet experts.
Information from "Small Animal Clinical Nutrition," 5th Edition, Hand, Thatcher, Remillard, Roudebush, Novotny, Copyright 2010 by Mark Morris Institute was used in this report.
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