HEALTH & CARE

How to Make Cat Lose Weight: Healthy Tips to Help Your Cat Shed A Few Pounds

A grey with white cat sitting with a red bowl of food in front of her
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Wondering how to make cat lose weight? Well, for the fact that you are here, we bet you are concerned about your cat’s weight and don’t know how to help her shed some of her extra fat. It’s understandable. Just a few pounds of extra fat on your kitty’s body can affect her overall health, physical fitness, as well as personality. While it’s pivotal to get her back into shape ASAP, you also want to ensure that you follow the right path—one that won’t have any adverse effect on your adorable feline.

Like with humans, rushing the weight loss process is a bad idea. Why? Well, rapid weight loss can lead to health problems. While you may be in a hurry to make your cat look trim, you need to remember that this needs to be done slowly but surely. The results aren’t instant; it is a gradual process. If you understand this fact, then we can assure you that your cat will revert back to her former energetic self. Best of all, you won’t be putting your cat’s health and wellbeing at risk.

A fat cat resting on a bench

That said, this article will help you understand a few facts about feline obesity, the causes, as well as provide you with helpful tips on how to make your kitty healthily lose weight in a gradual process.

How to Determine If Your Cat is Overweight

To be able to tell if your cat is overweight or not, you need first to understand what a healthy cat weight is. The standard weight of cats varies with several factors, but mainly with the breed type and the cat’s lifestyle. Different breeds of cats have different weight expectations; a drastic change in the estimated average weight can mean that something is seriously wrong with your cat.

If you want to know exactly what weight your cat should be, you can browse our Cat Breed articles or just ask your vet. But averagely, a healthy, medium-sized female cat regardless of breed and lifestyle ought to weigh somewhere between 7 and 10 pounds. Males, on the other hand, have an average weight expectation of 9 to 12 pounds. If your cat has a weight that is 20% above this, it should ring an alarm.

A black and white fat cat walking on a road

Another way of determining if your cat is overweight without having to put them on a scale is by doing what is commonly known as ‘the rib test.’ For this, you will need to gently grab your cat by the ribcage and run your hands along her flank. If you can’t feel her ribs, then she is possibly overweight.

What Causes Cats to Gain Weight?

Many things could lead to weight gain in cats, but mostly, they become overweight when they overfeed and fail to exercise. And this, we must admit, is usually our fault. While cats are predisposed to gaining a few pounds of weight themselves, as cat owners, we contribute a lot to the excessive weight gain.

Our excuse is that we want to have a healthy cat, but most of the time we end up spoiling them too much with treats that they end up ballooning. Chubby cats tend to look cute and healthy to us, but are they, really?

Lack of exercise is also one of the main contributors to weight gain. If you have thought ahead and created a conducive environment where your cats can play and jump around, then compliments to you. That was good thinking. And yet, despite everything, your cat still gets way too chunky. You wonder why this is.

a tabby orange cat sleeping

While some cat breeds, like the Somali and the Bengal, have boundless energy and can still entertain themselves with games even if you’re not there to play with them, other cats such as the Himalayan and the Birman aren’t half as active. They need to be lured into moving, or else they are content to just lounge around and sleep all day.

It’s high time you understand that cat ownership comes with lots of responsibilities—one of them is ensuring that your cat maintains a healthy weight. Keep in mind that the effects of being overweight in cats are quite similar to humans; it can lead to serious health problems. So how do you make a cat lose weight? Read on to find out.

Healthy Tips to Make Your Cat Lose Weight

Although you may be eager to see your cat in all of her slim and muscular glory again, losing weight too quickly isn’t healthy for cats. This can prompt serious health complications like hepatic lipidosis (a fatal liver disease where fat is deposited in the liver). Therefore, overweight cats should be made to lose weight steadily and gradually.

It can actually take up to a year for an extremely overweight feline to achieve her optimal body weight healthily. So clearly, this is a process that will need you to exercise lots of patience and be dedicated to achieving the desired results. Here’s what it entails:

Step #1: Check in With a Veterinarian

A vet is the best person to help you with your cat. In this case, where weight has become an issue, he/she will help examine the cat to check her level of ‘overweightness’ as well as establish what is causing it.

A vet examining a cat

The diagnosis will include physical as well as internal examinations after which he/she will advise on the correct weight loss path for it based on the underlying condition causing the weight gain.

Step #2: Monitor Their Diet

If it is established that poor diet is the primary cause of weight gain in your cat, here’s what you should do:

  • You can ask your vet what type of food your cat should feed on in her present condition. The vet will tell you of the things to avoid at this point. They will also possibly recommend a particular brand of food to make things easier for you.

  • Start to reduce the measure of food you give to your feline bit by bit. Keep in mind that this should be done for every meal and should be done gradually until your cat reaches the coveted food intake level. This will make it easy for the cat to adapt to the lower food amount.

  • Some cat owners enjoy—or rather, love—preparing kitty meals by themselves. Are you one of these people? It’s certainly a good thing, but you have to be very careful with what you give to your cat. You have to know which ingredients to put in your cat’s diet (high-quality lean meat), which ones to exclude (vegetables, grain, and basically anything rich in carbs), and which new ones you can try out. As you do this, remember that cat’s diet should be changed gradually. This will enable them to adapt to any diet changes better.

  • A good alternative or substitute to homemade cat meals is readymade canned food. You can try these out but only the special, low-calories ones. Note that low-calorie foods don’t taste any different from high-calorie ones, so you don’t have to worry about your cat rejecting this food. Low-calorie canned foods are super healthy particularly for docile cats and those with a slow metabolism. Remember that your aim is to make your cat lose weight, so high-calorie foods are strictly prohibited at this point.

  • Take note though, that while you may want your cat to feel like a part of the family, never give her the food that you eat. Cats have special needs and giving them human food will only increase their chances of becoming overweight. Also, when they get used to eating your food, they will start climbing onto the table or cupboards and steal your food. While resisting those huge, teary eyes is undoubtedly difficult, this is where you have to put your foot down. If your cat has already developed the aforementioned bad habits, discipline them by using non-harmful cat repellents.

  • You need to make sure that your friends and family are on board with the whole thing. This is so that they won’t feed her table scraps or sneak her unhealthy treats when you’re not looking.

Step #3: Exercise

Among the things that cause excessive weight gain among cats is a lack of activity. Indoor cats, cats with slower metabolisms, and neutered cats are particularly susceptible to weight gain.

An orange and white cat playing with a toy

All cats require exercise to stay trim and healthy, but cats that fall under the categories mentioned above need more. Exercise is vital to help the cat use up the energy she gains from the calorie intake. Otherwise, the calories will be stored as fat and the cat gains more weight.

  • If you want to help your cat exercise better, you can buy a cat harness. This will allow you to walk your feline friend around the house/home, up and down the stairs, and maybe even outside. Give them some leash lessons, and you should be able to walk your cat for a few minutes or even an hour around the neighborhood. Other people might find this weird, but hey, it’s your cat, and you are only doing what’s best for her health.

  • Also, you can try moving feeding bowls to other parts of the house that the cat doesn’t usually frequent. This will force the cat to walk a little bit to and from the feeding bowl.

  • Playing helps a lot in shedding off excess cat weight. You might want to get her some toys to make the play moments more fun and enjoyable. You can engage your cat in chase games or fetching games. You can also have a little enclosure built in your backyard where the cat can play to her heart’s content. There are lots of other ways to engage your cat in play sessions.

Step #4: Follow-Up Visit to the Vet

When looking to make your cat lose weight, you will need to work closely with the vet. He/she will help you figure out what to do and what not to do for your cat. The first vet visit was to get your cat checked out and to come up with a doable plan to help her lose some of the weight.

cat-at-vet-office lying on the table

Now, you’ve monitored her diet and changed a few things in her lifestyle, but you want to be sure that you are making progress. The best way to know this is by revisiting a vet. This second visit should be scheduled at least 3-4 weeks after the first visit. If there isn’t any change even after following the weight loss plan designed by the vet, he or she can recommend another change in the cat’s diet.

Wrap Up

As a cat lover, the last thing you want is an overweight cat. Yes, they might look cute, but the excess weight is not healthy all. It could shorten your cat’s lifespan. It is, therefore, your responsibility to make sure that your cat loses the extra weight and gets into shape before the weight becomes detrimental to her health and physical wellbeing.

Shedding some of your cat’s weight can reduce risks of diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart diseases, and other weight-related health problems. It can also help your cat get back to her usual active and energetic self; we bet you’ve missed this.

a fat cat lying on the floor

Take note that while you may wish to get your cat back to her ideal weight, you have to understand that healthy weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. It takes lots of time and effort to get to that healthy weight point. Both you and your cat need to be dedicated to the path of healthy weight loss. This is the only way to achieve the desired results.

In that regard, with the tips mentioned herein, we hope that you will be able to make your cat lose all that extra fat. But if there is anything you need to clarify or if you’ve already had firsthand experience with overweight cats, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us in the comment box below. Thanks for reading!

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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