Four New Year's Resolutions for Your Cat
The new year isn't just a good time for you to break bad habits and take up good ones. It's an excellent time to take stock of your cat's life and figure out what you can do to make her life better, too. Here are four feline new year's resolutions for you to consider:
1. Lose weight. A lot of people think fat cats are cute, but the truth is that obesity puts your cat at a much higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
With the exception of some larger breeds, an average-sized cat should weigh between 7 and 12 lbs. To measure your cat's weight, weigh yourself, then pick up your cat and weigh yourself again. The difference between the two numbers is your cat's weight.
A cat should have a slight layer of fat over her ribs, but you should be able to feel the ribs without too much poking and prodding. When you look at your cat from above, you should notice a distinct waistline.
If your cat is obese, work with your veterinarian to develop a nutrition and exercise program that will allow her to lose weight at a safe pace.
2. Eat better. Cats need to eat meat in order to be healthy. But most of the dry cat foods available at supermarkets have more grain than protein, and even canned foods may contain low-quality proteins that are hard for cats to digest. Many experts say these factors can contribute to obesity, allergies, and other health issues.
Seek out canned cat foods that are at least 95% meat and dry foods that list meat products as at least the first two ingredients. These premium foods do cost more, but since you generally feed less to get the same nutritional value, the cost per serving is pretty much the same.
3. Exercise more. In the wild, cats hunt several times a day. This stimulates their senses and keeps their graceful bodies in shape. But indoor cats rarely get a chance to pounce and prowl and wrestle. Boredom can lead to depression, acting out, and overeating.
Resolve to give your cat at least three 10-minute interactive play sessions a day. When you play with your cat, make sure you move the toy as if it were a real prey object. Move your mouse toy in quick little bursts, stop, then move it again. Let your bird toy "land" and watch your cat sneak up on it. Don't forget to let her catch the toy a few times or she'll get frustrated and walk away.
A regular exercise program will make your little couch panther healthier and more excited about life. After a while she'll probably start asking you to play with her if you forget.
4. Go to the doctor for a checkup. Cats age much faster than people, so it's crucial to get your cat to the vet once a year for an annual physical exam. Some vets say that senior cats (those over 12 years of age) should have checkups twice a year. Regular vet visits help you to keep track of your cat's weight and general health, and your vet will notice changes in your cat that may have happened too gradually for you to detect. A yearly checkup will also help your vet get to know you and your cat, which will help him or her give your kitty the best possible care.
About the Author: Cat expert and animal communicator JaneA Kelley is the webmaster and chief cat slave for Paws and Effect, a weekly cat advice column by cats, for cats and their people. She also keeps Catsters up to date on their fellow felines' antics via The Kitty News Network.
Related Advice from Other Cat Owners
How to Help an Overweight Cat
Look at your food's calorie content, not just at fat content. High calorie foods, which all dry foods are, will not help your cat's weight at all. To lose weight, limit the amount of calories your cat eats every day. It is suggested to eat about 20 calories per pound of ideal body weight. It is important to lose the weight slowly. Losing weight too fast can cause serious health problems.
Canned and RAW foods can help you lose the extra weight. You can find out the calorie content of canned and dry foods online. There was a post in the Catster forums sometime ago about a feline who lost 8 lbs on a Fancy Feast-only diet.
Dry food is not good for cats at all, though some may disagree. If you must feed some dry, feed a good quality one and make it a small portion of your daily meal. Feed more canned so that your cat is not hungry from not enough dry food.
~Karen L., owner of a Domestic Shorthair
Diet Tips for Overweight Cats
You have to be careful about helping your cat lose weight, as it has to be done slowly. I would ask your vet how many calories your cat should be getting per day in order to safely lose weight. Weruva Paw Lickin' Chicken comes in 5.5 oz cans and 14 oz cans. The 5.5 oz can is only 83.91 calories according to their website.
The dry EVO is 612 calories per cup, so if you feed 1/4 then that is 153 calories. Just for comparison, I have two 9 lb cats. They should have 200 calories per day. I feed my cats canned only because the dry seemed to pack on the pounds. I give them 4 small meals per day, so it seems like they are always eating which makes them happy, but they are getting the right amount of calories. Your vet really needs to help you get started though.
~Julie V., owner of Domestic Shorthair