Our bond with pets can be very strong, and one of the ways we show affection is by giving extra food, treats, and human snacks. This can lead to unwanted weight gain in our pets. It is important to keep your cats at a healthy weight to ensure good quality of life and optimize longevity. Obesity can lead to debilitating medical conditions, such as diabetes and osteoarthritis.
How do I know if my cat is overweight?
Veterinary professionals use what is called a Body Condition Score (BCS) to assess your pet’s weight with a score between 1-9. A score of 4-5 is a pet’s ideal body condition. An ideal body condition is being able to feel the ribs easily with minimal fat covering, the waist should be visible from above, and a tucked-up abdomen should be visible from the side. While a score of 4-5 is ideal, a score of 6-7 is overweight and 8-9 is obese. A body condition score is a routine part of your cat’s annual physical examinations, and trends are monitored to help identify if weight gain is occurring and to help identify management strategies.
How can I help my cat lose weight?
Discuss your cat’s weight history and diet with your veterinarian, so that they can properly advise you on the safest course of weight management for your cat’s individual needs. Recommendations may differ depending on your cat’s other health concerns and their lifestyle. Canned food is usually included in most diet recommendations for weight loss, and measured meal feeding is crucial to weight management. Often the most effective management strategy for weight loss in cats is dietary, but exercise should not go unnoticed.
You can help keep your cat’s weight in check by playing with them (laser pointers, fetch, treat balls, mazes, etc). It is a good idea to check your cat’s weight regularly and discuss their target weight with your veterinarian. Rapid weight loss is not ideal and can lead to other medical problems. Slow and progressive weight loss is best for your cat’s overall health.
What is offered during a nutritional consultation?
Our veterinarians will discuss your cat’s current weight, and their target weight and will help you come up with a specific plan to achieve that target. It will include an assessment of your cat’s current diet and recommendations of how to alter formulas and amounts of foods offered. Our goal is to make this manageable for your lifestyle and satisfying for your cat. Any other health concerns, such as food allergies, or diseases, such as diabetes, will affect the specific recommendations that will be made for your cat.