More Cat Care Information:

Every day we hear stories about what we should and shouldn't eat to lose weight and avoid obesity. We can make the most of this advice as we see fit but when this is applied to our cats, things become a little more difficult. Simply cutting back on their potion sizes or getting them to have more exercise may not solve the problem and the weight gain could be a sign of a more serious health condition.

General Cat Care #1: Before You Bring Your Cat Home
You will need food, food dish, water bowl, interactive toys, brush, comb, safety cat collar, scratching post, litter and litter box.
General Cat Care #2: Feeding
An adult cat should be fed one large or two smaller meals each day. Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks need to be fed four times a day. Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day. You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes or free-feed dry food (keeping food out all the time).

Feed your cat a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food (avoid generic brands) two to three times a day. Kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time if they won’t eat kitten food softened by soaking in warm water. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with cat food. Cow’s milk is not necessary and can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Wash and refill water bowls daily.

Weight basics

The basic principle of obesity in cats is the same as with humans, dogs or other animals. If they consume more calories per day than they use, they will likely put on weight. In the wild, cats would need to hunt their prey so for every meal they acquired, energy would be expended to do this. When we domesticated the cat, we took away the need for them to hunt, at least any further than for the kitchen cupboard or food storage spot.

While we humans can work to control the food we consume, cats are dependent on what we give them. And for many cats, when you present them with a meal, their instincts tell them to eat it, as you never know when the next one will come along – even though they do.

So therefore, we the owners can have the biggest effect on the weight of our cat by controlling the amount and frequency of the food we give them.

Weight loss

Before looking at a weight loss program for your cat, it is advisable to have a number of tests done to ensure they aren't suffering with a medical condition that is causing their weight problem such as diabetes or thyroid issues.

The first thing to look at is the availability of food. Many owners ensure that there is always food available to their cat to eat as they want but this is basically the opposite of what they evolved to do. In the wild, they would eat when they had caught something and then eat nothing else until the next time they had hunted prey. To combat this, it is advisable to limit the cat to two or four small portions of food each day.

The amount of food given per portion is another issue and may need owners to downsize what they consider to be a proper meal for their feline. For example, a meal for a human weighing 175 pounds might be 16-24 ounces. Your cat weighs around 1/25th of this so a portion size would be 0.6-1 ounce of food for a seven-pound cat – around the size of a mouse.

Carbohydrates

General Cat Care #3: Grooming
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed or combed. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat’s coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs
General Cat Care #4: Handling
To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (behind the ears) or by the front legs without supporting the rear end.
General Cat Care #5: Housing
Cats should have a clean, dry place of their own in the house. Line your cat’s bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. If your companion animal is allowed outside, he can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, hurt in a fight or poisoned. Also, cats prey on wildlife.

Unlike most mammals, cats don't have an enzyme in their spit called Amylase that helps them digest carbohydrates. The same enzyme is also secreted by the pancreas but cats only produce a small amount of this. As a result, they don't process carbohydrates very well and nature didn't intend for them to ever any.

At first, this wouldn't sound like a problem but the issue comes about when examining the ingredients of some cat food brands. Dry pet food makes use of flour and sugar to hold the ingredients together but means they are high in carbohydrates and can lead to weight gain.

What this means is we should concentrate our cats diet around meat, which is what they are designed to eat. Protein levels should be 35-45% of their dry matter in their diet with a low percentage of grains.

Treats

Using cat treats as a reward for behaviour or to give them something when they are looking for food is a common behaviour. But we need to watch ourselves with this as often behaviour we interpret as hunger is often just normal cat behaviour and nothing to do with the need for food. Also, cat treats are designed to be irresistible to cats and makes them hunger for more but often have a high amount of carbohydrates in them.

When dealing with treats, first don't reward bad behaviour by giving your cat a treat for meowing incessantly – this reinforces the noisy behaviour and encourages them to continue doing it. Only give treats sparingly to reward good behaviour and don't be pressured by your cat into giving in and providing extras.

Exercise

Giving a dog exercise is easy – link their collar to the leash and take them for a walk. With cats, this can be a little more difficult. Cats are often asleep and left to their own devices will spend most of the time napping. But a lack of stimulation will also lead them to the lazy option so the best way to get exercise is with interactive toys. The best toy is another cat, though this shouldn't be the reason for adopting another animal. But other toys including cat houses, cat shelves and the multitude of small toys that are readily available at least get them moving around and exercising.

Conclusion

The first step to dealing with cat obesity is to change our own behaviours – how we treat our cats, feed them and the stimulation we give them around the house. For some cats, it may be that there is little that can be done, particularly if they have a medical condition. But by instituting a few changes to their behaviour and eating habits, it may be that that wobble of fat around their belly can be gone in no time at all.

General Cat Care #6: Identification
If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat needs to wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. An ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
General Cat Care #7: Litter Box
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat’s box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day. Cats won’t use a messy, SMELLY litter box. Scoop solids out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent (don’t use ammonia) and refill at least once a week, less frequently if using clumping litter. Don’t use deodorants or scents in the litter or litter box (especially avoid lemon scent).
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