We all love to cuddle a chubby cat, but those fat rolls can lead to future problems ranging from diabetes to arthritis. Pet obesity is an epidemic in America with more than half of American pets suffering from the affliction. Cats can be especially vulnerable since many are kept indoors and don't get the regular exercise that dogs do.
The good news is there are lots of ways to help get your chubby kitty back to health, ranging from the "catkins" diet to special exercise equipment. Here's how to get your cat back in shape.
Change how you feed
Dry foods are some of the highest in calories. Cats are natural carnivores so it's actually best for them to eat a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. A ratio of 50% dry and 50% wet food are an optimal feeding mix for weight loss but even as little as 25% can make a difference.
If your cat eats too quickly, not only can it cause vomiting, but it can also lead to weight gain. Slow feeders can help your cat pace themselves, and you can even make your own. Cut small holes in a soda bottle and fill the bottle with dry cat food. Your cat will have to roll the bottle in order to get the food out, engaging them not only mentally but physically.
Create an enriched environment
Cats can get bored with their environment, and by mixing it up you encourage them to be more active. Even things as simple as an empty box, a crumble of paper, or a toilet paper tube can give your cat some temporary entertainment.
High spaces encourage movement, so give your pet cat towers or perches where they can get above the room. Brands like Catastrophic Creations make fabric raceways that are safe for cats to climb on along the walls.
Cats also get used to their toys so even if they have tons of offer, they may not want any of them. Cycle out their toys in order to make them always seem new. If you want to make them really exciting, let them sit inside a bag of catnip until you bring them out again so that they're infused with the scent.
Get more exercise with a pet camera
It can be hard to give our cats enough play, but there are ways to make it easier. First, make sure you're playing with toys they really like. Some cats prefer feathers to fur, or may even prefer one color over another (hint: cats best see blue, green, and yellow.)
There are more and more battery-operated toys as well that can especially help older cats who may need more stimulation to get them up and active. This circling feather is a favorite of many cats, as is this door hanging toy.
Leash walking is also a great way to get your cat out in nature without facing the dangers of being an outdoor cat. Find a well-fitting cat harness and try taking your cat for short walks in quiet natural areas so they can become accustomed to the process.
Finally, try a pet cam that lets you interact with your cat. Although some pet cams just let you watch your pet, cameras like Petcube Play have a laser pointer that you control from your phone, letting you exercise your cat from anywhere. You can even set up an autoplay session that moves the laser pointer around in a pattern when you're away.
Remember one of the best ways to track kitty's weight as you embark on this program is to weigh yourself, them weight yourself holding your pet, then subtract to get their weight.