How To Get Your Cat To Lose Weight

The University of Illinois finds a diet that actually works!

By Justyne Yuen-Lee

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Credit: Illumination / The Secret Life of Pets

A fat cat is kind of cute. They’re pudgy, adorable, and just beg to be cuddled! They are celebrated in the media – Garfield, Lucifer from Cinderella, and more recently Chloe from The Secret Life of Pets (pictured above). Indoor cats don’t usually go for walks, so miss out on that bit of exercise. In fact, they can generally be found lounging at home, moving only to the rattling of treats or dinner. With that kind of sedentary tendency, it’s not hard to believe that almost 60% of American house cats are obese or overweight (2016 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention). Chubby may be cute, but it’s not always healthy.

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Excess weight can lead to health problems such as diabetes, skeletal stress, and reduced life expectancy. With weight loss, however, all of these problems are reversible.

Then again, how do you convince your cat to lose weight?

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You can’t really convince them, per se, but you can feed them less.

The University of Illinois tested a new diet on 8 neutered chunky male kitties. The study involved gradually reducing their caloric intake over 8 weeks.

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According to Kelly Swanson, one of the authors and a professor of animal and nutritional science, the intent was, “a healthy weight loss: getting rid of fat while maintaining lean mass. The risk with rapid weight loss, especially in a cat, is hepatic lipidosis. The body releases too much fat, and the liver gets bogged down… We targeted a 1.5 percent body weight loss per week, which falls in line with the range (0.5-2 percent per week) suggested by the American Animal Hospital Association.”

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