This post has been written in conjunction with Royal Canin UK & IE but as always all opinions and pictures of cute cats are my own.
If you’ve been following me for a while, especially on Instagram, you will have met my two little sibling cats – Maisie and Fang. We had their mother, Moneypenny, who sadly passed away a few weeks after they were born, so we have a very close connection with our ‘kittens’.
As a cat owner, you want your fur babies to be at their best health and this is reflected in how we make sure their weight is right for them. I have certainly found it a difficult thing to manage as my two tend to put on weight fairly quickly and are naturally very greedy cats. I also found that it can be a very fine line between what is cute and cuddly and what is unhealthy – the last vets we were with told me not to worry as Maisie was adorable – yet, she was definitely well above her ideal weight despite having lots of exercise and what I thought was the right amount of food for her.
I started doing a bit more research into it, to learn what exactly is a healthy weight for a cat and how much exactly I should be feeding them – I really couldn’t keep blaming this on the mice they were hunting in the summer! I also took them to a new veterinarian to check whether this was affecting their health and get some more advice on the type of food I should give them to help them lose some of this extra weight and get back to their agile selves.
Luckily the vets assured me both cats are super healthy, but highlighted all the issues linked between pet obesity and a plethora of illnesses – from joint disease, diabetes, urinary disease, skin disease to tumours – I knew I had to do something and immediately started doing research on how I could help them. I have now started taking steps on my cats’ weight-loss journey which has been helped by the fact I’ve been working from home in these last few months, and I don’t have to just leave food out for them both.
How can you check your cat’s weight is healthy?
1. Check their Body Condition Score
The best place to start is with your vet. They will talk to you about your cat’s ideal body shape and weight and check the cat body conditioning score to check the percentage fat of your cat. This is very helpful especially to those with naturally small or larger cats. Both mine were the two extremes from the get-go. I always had to ensure Maisie (who was born a third smaller than the rest of her litter) had enough to eat as her siblings stole her food, yet Fang was always the strongest one. I think the fact I did that for her when she was little has meant she naturally tries to get all the food she can get at any time, never pacing herself. Her brother is much more relaxed and eats slower. This has made feeding them together a bit challenging in the past.
Looking at the BCS, I found that both my cats are an 8 out of 9 in the score which was a bit scary to discover and certainly kicked me into action mode on how I could tackle the problem.
You can get a good idea of how much extra fat your pet is storing by feeling around their ribcage and asking yourself some questions – can you feel their ribs, how prominent is their waist and how do they compare to the BCS chart.
Just like with humans, using a scale doesn’t always tell the whole truth as there isn’t a magic number that reflects health for all people, or cats! Having said that, used in conjunction with the other methods it’s a good guide on whether you need to start looking at their diet and exercise routine.
Tips to help your cat lose extra weight
Similar to most things in life, prevention is always the best thing to do but we know that life gets in the way, and while some cats may be able to manage their food and snacks throughout the day, others (like mine) are hungry the minute after you feed them. If you’re now needing to help your cats reduce their weight keep reading for some tips.
I’ve replaced their food with cat weight management food that will keep them satisfied for longer, and have been using more wet food with only one dry food meal a day. I’ve been doing this for the last three weeks, and already there are visible signs of weight loss and also an increase in their energy, which is a fantastic thing to see, especially during winter when they’re reluctant to play out in the cold.
To help them make up the level of exercise they’re not getting during the winter months, I’ve bought some new toys and catnip and have dedicated some time to play with them, rather than leaving them to play on their own. I suppose as they have each other, I was always a bit lazy in spending time playing with them. But having seen how much they really enjoy this extra playtime, and now I feel rather guilty to not have done this before.
Royal Canin also suggests using interactive feeders which mine will be getting for Christmas (I’ve gone for this one as it seems the simplest). These types of feeder slow down their meal times, which is especially useful for those who tend to devour their meals a bit too quickly. As a bonus, it also helps them feel more stimulated mentally. I will update this post with how successful they were as we all know cats are notoriously difficult to please when it comes to new toys!
As we enter the deeper winter months I will continue to help them reach their ideal weight and get back to peak health. I’ll share their progress on this post over the next few months, and will share on my Instagram too. In the meantime if you have any questions at all, just drop me a comment below or get in touch via my social media channels.