How Can I Make My Overweight Cat Lose Weight?

Your cat is so adorable when he's begging for food that you can't resist his pleading -- or pestering. However, he's gotten so fat that you worry about his health. Consult your veterinarian for the best diet and exercise plan for your cat. She also may want to perform tests on your pet to ensure he's not suffering from an underlying condition causing weight gain. Your vet can give you a practical target weight for Kitty. You're looking for a steady, not rapid, weight loss in your cat. Too little food given to a fat cat can result in the liver disease, hepatic lipidosis.

Obese walk
Exercise starts with that first step.
credit: dennisvdw/iStock/Getty Images

Dietary Changes

An obese cat probably requires a veterinary prescription diet to lose weight, but a somewhat overweight cat might not need an actual change of diet, just a change in the amount of food. If your cat eats dry food, or a combination of canned and dry, consider switching to canned food only. Cats tend to consume wet food at once, rather than snack on it as with dry food. You also want to feed the cat the proper amount for his target weight, not his current weight. Measure his food for accuracy. An average 10-pound indoor cat requires approximately 200 calories daily, or 20 calories for each pound. If your cat lives outside, he should receive 350 daily calories, or 35 calories per pound.

No Treats

If you've been in the habit of giving Kitty treats, whether table scraps or those designed specifically for felines, break it. When your cat begs for a treat, play with her or brush her instead. She'll eventually grow to appreciate that attention over treats. In addition to treat displacement, set aside time every day to give Kitty some affection and exercise.

Feline Exercise

Your cat isn't a dog. He can't accompany you on long walks in the park to help get those pounds off. You can't play hours worth of Frisbee in the backyard. By nature, cats don't expand a great deal of energy if it's not necessary. One way to get your cat to exercise more frequently is by playing games with him, and using small amounts of his regular food -- not treats -- as a reward. Purchase toys that can keep him active when you're not home. Consider buying a puzzle feeder, which makes Kitty work for his food.

Move the Food

One simple exercise concerns changing the placement of his food dish. Instead of feeding him on the floor, place the dish or feeder on a table or other raised area so that he must jump up to eat. You can move the bowl to different parts of your house, so that eating involves a walk. Every cat has favorite places to hang out. Move his food dish far away from those places, so grabbing a snack involves getting up and walking. You can try moving the litter box to an upstairs bathroom or other suitable area, so that he must climb stairs to eliminate.

Automatic Feeders

If you have an automatic cat feeder in the house to ensure Kitty has constant access to food when you're not home, get rid of it. You can replace it with a preprogrammed feeder that only dispenses small amounts of food at allotted times.