Does Your Cat Need to Shed Some Pounds? Here's How to Help It Lose Weight

Obese cats are considered to be at least 20% heavier than their optimal weights.

Making one of the first inspirational stories of the year, Zack the 30-pound, overweight cat was adopted into his forever home and will be enjoy a strict new diet. Zack weighed two times a healthy weight when he arrived at Michigan’s Humane Society.

Thankfully, he’s on the road to weight loss with his new owners, and you can learn more about his story in the video above. What exactly are Zack and his new owners up against in their new journey together?

What weight is considered obese for a cat?

Obese cats are at least 20% heavier than their optimal weights, per International Cat Care. Studies show that 59% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Owners spent hundreds of extra dollars each year when their feline companions are overweight, according to PetMd.

What are the health risks for the cat?

Overweight cats have a shorter life-expectancy due to various health conditions that can be triggered by obesity.

Cats that are overweight can be susceptible to numerous diseases and complications, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and urinary tract disease. Excess weight can also put a strain on the cat’s lungs, making it hard for the animal to breath.

Obesity can trigger hepatic lipidosis, also known as “fatty liver disease,” which can leave felines in need of a feeding tube and IV fluids. If left untreated, it can be fatal.

An increased risk of cancer is the case for obese cats as well. Mental health can also be a struggle for the overweight animals because their instincts are to run when they’re in danger. An inability to do that, because of their weight, can cause them distress.

How can owners help their cat drop excess weight?

Just like humans, exercise and diet play a major role in helping a cat lose weight. Owners can take their animals on short walks or play games with them that help expend calories.

The next thing that’s recommended is for the cat to cut calories, but not too drastically, as that can also trigger hepatic lipidosis. 

Vets recommend no longer leaving food out for your cat all day but feeding the cat three to four small meals a day. A meat-based diet, high in protein, is  recommended over dry kibble. Also, swap out the cat’s treats for healthier ones and make sure its water bowl is full to help satiate hunger. It’s recommended for a veterinarian to help decide what diet would be best for your pet.

Regular weigh-ins, every two to three weeks, for your cat can also help to keep yourself accountable as the owner, per the Veterinary Centers of America.

Once you get your cat to a healthy weight, then it’s all about maintenance. Owners are urged to continue to monitor their animal’s food intake and activity.