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Diet and Health

Just like people, it’s normal for pets to gain weight over time, especially as we start to get comfortable in our relationship with them.

overweight cat

But extra weight on a small animal like a cat can lead to serious health problems and it’s essential that cat owners keep a check on their pet’s weight.

How much should my cat weigh?

As a general guide, a domestic cat should weigh between 8 -10lbs (around 3.5 to 4.5 kilos). Some cats are stockier than others but if you can feel the ribs of your cat, it’s probably not overweight. But to be sure, have your cat weighed by a vet.

How can my cat lose weight?

The same principles apply to cats as humans. They will lose weight if they eat less calories and exercise more.

two cats jumping and playing

Much will depend on the age and health of your cat, so always get advice from your vet. But if you cat is overweight you should:

  • Give it smaller more frequent feeds
  • Weigh or measure the amount of food you provide
  • Make sure your cat has a daily fresh supply of water
  • Encourage your cat to exercise more by engaging it in play and providing cat toys and if possible, a climbing frame.

Your vet may suggest a low calorie food, but you should never put your cat on a ‘crash diet’.
Once you know how much food your cat needs, stick to it. It may seem like too little to you, but it will keep your cat at a healthy weight. For cats, it’s hard to get the weight off once they get overweight.
If your cat goes outdoors, there is a danger that other people might feed it. To prevent this, you can put a ‘don’t feed me’ collar onto your cat, and speak to your near neighbours to explain that you cat is on a diet and they should not feed it.

My cat is a healthy weight so what should I feed it?

This can depend on a variety of factors, for example, whether it is an indoor or outdoor animal. It is best to seek advice from your vet, who will determine your cat’s ideal weight and daily calorie count.

tabby cat
Cats are carnivores (meat eaters) which is the most important thing to keep in mind when considering what to feed your cat. They are inflexible when it comes to nutrition and need to eat a lot of meat for protein and for fat.
Cats are not like dogs, which can eat a variety of foods, including ‘leftovers’ and remain healthy.

Which cat food should I buy?

There is a massive number of products on the market today, but basically there are two choices; dry or wet food.

It is not necessary to buy the most expensive food. Ignore labels such Gourmet and Premium, they mean nothing and are used as a marketing tool to make people think they are buying the best food for their pet.
Cats can be fussy. If they will not eat the food you put down, you need to find what they like. Often a diet of both wet and dry food is best and it brings variety. Dry food also helps to keep your cat’s teeth clean and prevent dental decay.

Cat being hand fed

What should I NOT feed my cat?

  • Tuna. Most cats love tuna and a small amount as a treat is OK. But a diet of tuna will make your cat unwell. It does not have all the ingredients that your cat needs and too much tuna can cause mercury poisoning.
  • Milk and other dairy products. Despite the popular image of a cat drinking a saucer a milk, most cats are lactose-intolerant. Their digestive systems cannot process dairy foods and they may cause diarrhoea.
  • Grapes and raisins. Keep your cat away from the fruit bowl. Fruit is not good for cats and in particular, grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure.
  • Chocolate. It is not a treat for a cat and can be lethal. It can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and death.
  • Table scraps. These may contain bones which will choke your cat. Table scraps are often very fatty which can cause an upset stomach and vomiting in cats.
  • Raw meat or raw fish. The biggest danger with raw meat or fish is that it can contain bacteria that leads to food poisoning. Also, raw fish contains an enzyme which can destroy thiamine, a B vitamin which is essential to your cat’s health.
  • Dog food. A diet of dog food will leave your cat undernourished as it is not produced to meet the needs of a cat.
  • Liver. A small amount of cooked liver is OK, but too much leads to vitamin A toxicity. This can affect your cat’s bones and lead to osteoporosis.
  • Treats. Just like human’s too many treats will make your cat overweight.

 

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