Restricted Feeding in Cats
You have probably always free-fed your cat(s). Free-feeding is one of the many reasons why cats are so easy to take care of. You can just leave the food out all day and the cat feeds itself. But what do you do if your cat gets fat?
Obesity in cats is more than just a cosmetic problem. Overweight cats are at a higher risk of developing certain medical conditions including diabetes, hepatic lipidosis (a potentially fatal liver condition), skin problems, and joint problems. On average, obese cats live a shorter life than lighter cats.
There is an easy way to tell if your cat is overweight. Run your fingers lightly over the ribs; you should be able to feel the ribs with only light pressure. Also, an ideal cat will have minimal belly fat and a nice, tucked-in abdomen. Many veterinary clinics have posters that can help you assess your cat for its ideal body weight. The ideal weight for an average sized cat is 8-12 pounds.
Obesity in cats is a common problem. Over 20% of cats are overweight. Obesity can happen as your cat gets older and slows down. It is also frequently seen in a two-cat (or multi-cat) households where one cat stays skinny and one cat gets fat. Having more than one cat is often a great idea because they can keep each other company and it is not much harder to take care of two cats than one. But sometimes there are weight issues.
Free-feeding is the type of feeding when you leave food out all day, letting the cat eat as much as it wants. As we said before, free-feeding is easy and convenient. Honestly, if it works for you and your cat is not overweight, there is nothing wrong with free-feeding your cat. However, many free-fed cats eventually become overweight. You can attempt to deal with the weight in a few different ways. A great suggestion is to increase the amount of daily exercise. This can be as simple as giving your cat some toys to play with. However, there are some great interactive toys out there that allow you to exercise your cat from your chair. It can be as simple as a laser pointer.
Another option is to change your cat over to a low-calorie food. There are plenty of high-quality, low-calorie diets available for your cat. But when this doesn’t work, you may want to consider restricted-feeding for your cat. Restricted-feeding is when you limit the amount of food your cat eats.
Restricted-feeding is how many people feed their dogs. It involves a set number of meals (usually two or three) per day, with a specific amount of food. Overweight cats may need this method of feeding to help them lose weight. However, this is sometimes not as simple as it seems.
One of the biggest complaints that people have about restricted-feeding for cats is that their cats wake them up in the morning with persistent meows and paw-in-the-face for food. There are a couple of ways to prevent this. You can try feeding at night right before you go to bed. This way your cat will be less likely to be hungry first thing in the morning. You can also try more frequent feedings (at least three to four times a day), if that is possible. More frequent, smaller meals help keep your cat satisfied for most of the day. If this is not convenient, there are automated feeders available to release small meals at set times during the day.
If you have more than one cat, you may have to feed them separately, especially if only one cat is overweight. This can be achieved by supervising mealtimes to ensure that each cat gets the right amount of food. However, this can be difficult. Another solution is to feed the skinnier cat somewhere that is too high for the overweight cat to jump up to.
Obesity is a common problem in cats, especially in situations where people free-feed their pet. One of the potential solutions to combat obesity is restricted-feeding. It may not be as convenient as free-feeding, but it may be necessary to keep your cat’s weight at a healthy level. Veterinarians have a lot of information available that can help you make the transition to restricted-feeding, so don’t hesitate to discuss your cat’s weight problem with your vet!
By Ashley O’Driscoll – Pets.ca writer