Fat Cats

Cats can become overweight in much the same way that humans do Ė little or no exercise and/or eating wrong.

Many people believe cats become fat as a result of spaying or neutering, on the assumption that altering causes them to become lazy. Sure, they may lose interest in fighting for mating rights, but many cats, particularly those that live in multi-cat households, may still want to protect some territory. (The cats at my house still fight and chase as part of their turf battles, but they still enjoy being couch potatoes, too.)

But as responsible guardians, it is our duty to help our furry friends maintain good health and conditioning. Therefore, take note of the following tips to help your kitty stay trim and fit. These tips will also help get your fat cat back into shape, too.


Discuss your catís dietary needs with your veterinarian, especially if overweight. Since obese cats, in particular, can develop a fatty liver if deprived of too many calories too quickly, it may not be advisable to simply cut down on the amount fed each day. Fatty liver, also known as hepatic lipidosis, is quite often fatal if not caught and treated early.

Start slowly. Gradually reduce the amount of food put out each day, and set a schedule. Most cat nutrition authorities agree that it's not in your cat's best interest to leave food out all day. Free-feeding can lead to "boredom eating" if the cat has nothing to do. Set up regular feedings, usually twice a day for adult cats. Ask your vet how much to set out at each meal, then stick to it.

If your vet recommends it, you might try switching to a lower calorie cat food, but be careful to choose a high quality food that has a high protein content. Many low-cost, grocery store brands are primarily grain-based and may not be the best "diet food" for a cat. Make the switch gradually, by adding a little of the new food at first, replacing more and more of the old food with it, until it is completely replaced. Then begin cutting down on the portions, if necessary. This process can take about a week, or several if your cat does not like the new food. Important: If you're giving them table scraps as treats, stop it. In fact, treats may be stopped entirely. Give your cat more attention as a treat instead.


In addition to maintaining optimum caloric intake, appropriate for your catís size, age and current condition, exercise is crucial. As with people, lack of activity can lead to being overweight and in poor condition. This, then, can lead to some familiar problems, including heart problems, respiratory disease, diabetes and other breakdowns in normal function.

To get your kitty up off the couch, find a toy he might enjoy chasing or batting at. Engage him in a game of bat-and-chase every day at about the same time. Cats like routine. Begin with 5 minute sessions at first, working up to 15 minutes a day, at least. Soon, he will be asking you to play!

Giving your cat a brisk brushing several times a week can stimulate him to stretch and roll, too, another form of exercise for cats.

Above all, be sure your cat has plenty of fresh water available throughout the day. I have learned that keeping food and water in different locations encourages drinking more water. In the wild, you will not find a catís food and water neatly provided side by side. Nor are wild cats observed running somewhere to get a drink the minute they are done eating.

Copyright © 2009 - Dr. RJ Peters 
The Problem Cat