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Fat Cat: The Best Remedy is Prevention

The internet loves images of enormous cuddly cats spread out or waddling around. These famous felines become instant favorites. But a tubby tabby—no matter how cute—is not a healthy one, and there can be serious consequences. Feline obesity is on the rise so it’s critical to prevent her from packing on the pounds. Here are some simple solutions.

Just like humans, a fit cat is all about diet and exercise. That’s the not-so-secret formula. (Hint: the same works for us too!) Easier said than done? The path to a lean feline takes persistence. Feed her the right food, control portions and keep her active to improve her quality of life.

Just a little plump

A study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that the majority (60%) of cats in the US—that is, one in three—are overweight or obese. Feline obesity can lead to conditions such as diabetes, fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis), arthritis, high blood pressure, respiratory problems, kidney disease and cancer. And hampered grooming causes other problems. Indoor cats that are sedentary are especially at risk, as are older cats.

Also surprising: most people are unaware or in denial about flabby cats. For the signs, try this self-check: Feel for her spine and count her ribs, check her body from above—is it hourglass or blimp-shaped? The ideal weight for most domestic cats is between 8 to 10 pounds, for Siamese, it ranges from 5 to 10, and Maine Coons can weigh up to 25 pounds.

Battle of feline bulge

The benefits of a cat’s balanced diet include preserving muscle mass, improved insulin sensitivity and a longer life. The average cat eats 180–220 calories a day (5-6 ounces of wet food). If you're not sure where to begin, here are some helpful guidelines:

  • Increase meat-based protein (feed recipes like PEAK Ultra Premium Food for Cats)
  • Lower carbohydrates to improve metabolism
  • Transition to mostly wet food
  • Decrease free-access to kibble
  • Serve smaller meals (2 to 4 per day)
  • Limit treats (hide them as a challenge)