Diet Cat Food

Diet cat food can be an important part of an overall weight loss plan for your overweight cat. It can provide the nutrients your pet needs while reducing the amount of fat and calories your cat consumes.

How to Tell if a Cat Is Overweight

Determining if your cat is overweight starts with a simple hands-on owner checkup. Place your hands on either side of your cat's torso while he is relaxed. Can you feel his ribs? If you can clearly feel his ribs, your cat may be too thin. If you can feel the ribs with a little padding on them, your cat is at his ideal weight. If you cannot find your pet's ribs, he is overweight.

Obesity is the number 1 nutritional problem in pets. About 60 percent of pet cats in North America are considered overweight, and 30 percent are considered obese. If left untreated, excess weight can cause other health problems, such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.

Kittens and older cats have special concerns regarding their weight. Kittens need a small fat reserve with which to keep warm, but you don't want to set your kitten up for a lifetime of health problems by having him become fat. Older cats may become overweight as they age and become less active. In both cases, a little additional exercise may help solve weight problems.

The Problem Is too much Food

Most overweight cats become fat by eating too much food and exercising too little. To solve the first part of the problem, you can either feed about 75 percent of the cat's current food, or you can offer him a special diet food to help him lose weight.

Be aware that if you offer less of your cat's current diet, you reduce the amount of nutrients your cat needs, such as protein, vitamins and minerals, along with the amount of fat your cat eats.

As you change your cat's diet, make sure to eliminate treats. These are a sure-fire diet breaker,

The Benefits of Diet Food

Diet cat foods provide certain advantages to cats and their owners. Weight-loss diets are usually formulated with higher levels of fiber and lower levels of fat than regular feline diets. This higher fiber and lower fat level help your cat lose body fat more easily than feeding less of your cat's normal diet.

Follow the feeding guidelines closely when changing your cat to a lower-calorie diet. Your cat won't be able to lose weight if he eats too much diet food, so read the label closely.

As you transition your cat onto a diet of lower-calorie food, you may have to feed him smaller, more frequent meals. He may need three or four meals each day instead of the one or two you're accustomed to feeding him. Remove any free-choice feeding opportunities, such as a self-filling dish of dry food, and offer ample fresh water. Feed your overweight cat separately from any other cats in your home, and prevent him from stealing food from your other cats.