Feline Weight Loss 101

A step-by-step guide to help kitty shed those unhealthy extra pounds.

By Kristin Grant | Posted: November 11, 2009, 3 a.m. EST

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Weight loss programs for your cat can be important to keeping your cat healthy
The bad news: Overweight cats are at risk for many health issues, like diabetes and urinary tract disorders.  The good news: Cat parents can implement weight-loss programs for their portly pets to get them back into tip-top shape! Here’s how:

Week 1: Getting Started

  • Time for a weigh-in (yes, put kitty on a scale!).
  • Determine how much weight kitty needs to lose by visiting your vet.
  • Choose a diet food (high fiber/high protein/prescription).
  • Remove all other sources of food from the cat’s environment.
  • Provide kitty  with the diet food, with each serving containing 20 percent fewer calories than a serving of the nondiet food. All weight-loss regimens should be conducted with a vet's supervision.

Week 2: Assessing and Adjusting

  • Weigh kitty again; if the weight loss equals more than 2 percent of the original weight, increase the serving size this week. If weight loss equals less than 2 percent, decrease the serving size. Right at 2 percent? Keep the serving size the same.
  •  Increase the cat’s activity by introducing at least one new toy.

Week 3: Seeing Results

  • Repeat the weigh-in; adjust food servings as described in Week 2 using Week 2’s weight as the new basis.
  • If no weight loss has occurred, take kitty to the vet to check for underlying medical conditions.
  • Keep kitty active by encouraging play time: pull a string around the house to entice movement.

Week 4: Maintaining the Routine

  • Time to hit the scale again; this time, use Week 3’s starting weight as a basis. Adjust meal sizes accordingly.
  • If kitty still needs to shed a few pounds, continue the routine.
  • If the goal weight has been achieved, congratulations!

Remember that maintaining a cat’s ideal weight means controlling portion sizes even after the desired weight is reached.

Kristin Grant, a freelance writer from Baton Rouge, La., has three cats, one of which adores grazing at the food bowl all day long and may be in need of this regimen in the imminent future.

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Reader Comments

Penny    Kingsport, TN

7/2/2014 1:16:16 PM

How can I help my overweight cat lose weight when I have other kitties that need the extra food because of low weight?

Donna    Austin, TX

11/24/2009 5:43:08 PM

One of my cats needs to lose weight and the other one needs to stop gaining. They've put on 3½ to 4½ pounds since I adopted them 9 months ago.

Charmaine    Batavia, IL

11/24/2009 5:01:57 PM

We recently adopted an extremely overweight cat. We have 2 other cats who were used to "grazing". I now feed them twice a day, a third of a cup each. I feed all of them "Lite" food. The original 2 cats eat most of their food but leave a little. Number 3 eats the leftovers if I don't pick the bowsl up. Also, when we are gone for the weekend or on vacation, I can't control how she eats. It's very frustrating. My vet said it's very difficult with multiple cats. She is very active--loves to play!

steph    harwich, MA

11/24/2009 1:44:51 PM

you are so funny!

it's all very easy to say "drag a string around" but that doesn't accomplish anything!

the problem is that overweight kitties like mine do not enjoy ANY exercise! that's how they got overweight in the first place!

ted has never eaten any human food & enjoys only occasional treats. her weight problem stems from getting no exercise.

ted is not interested in ANY toys. when i get out the laser pointer, she looks at the pointer & not the red dot. i bought an expensive toy (undercover mouse) & she just lays there and watches it as it runs around. i have offered her many different toys - mice, balls, wands, etc. - & while she likes to watch them, she doesn't engage with them. the only toy she enjoys is a small soft puff ball that she will bat around while she is laying down but that's it. she isn't interested in cat nip.

it's very frustrating that she will not exercise despite my many attempts. she is on prescription diet food now under the supervision of a vet but until i can get ted to move & burn off calories, she isn't going to lose any weight in the foreseeable future.

i think you should address this problem. it's very easy to put a cat on a diet but it's much, much harder to get them to exercise.

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