Posted: Oct 4, 2011 12:59 PM by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP
Updated: Mar 15, 2012 4:20 PM
Q: My 14 month-old cat won't stop eating! I've got him on lowfat food and only feed him twice a day, but he's FAT! Seriously, this cat would eat all day long if I let him. Help?
A: Our pets are no different from us - they eat because it tastes good or because they are bored. All of us naturally eat to satisfy our energy needs, and we won't overeat unless the food tastes really good or we have developed habits that make us eat excessively. Think about the last time you got off the couch to grab a snack during a TV show. Were you really hungry? You probably just "felt like" you needed the food.
Pet food companies and pet owners like to see animals eat vigorously, and so pet diets are made to taste really good.
The best way to control our weight is to do what they do on the Biggest Loser - control calories and exercise! Most pet food bags recommend that we feed too much food. Your overweight pets should get 1-3 meals per day and the food should be available only 5-15 minutes for each meal. It is essential that they not have access to food other than those times. If your pet is not losing weight, put down less food at each meal. Special diets are sometimes helpful, but I found that just portion control works best.
Diet alone will never help much - you have to exercise. Dogs can be taken for walks and runs, but cats can be a challenge. Try using toys or laser lights - this is especially helpful with younger cats who like to chase things. If you have a really fat cat, simply pick it up and moving it to the other side of the house so it has to walk back to its favorite place - this can be a big work out for some cats! Be sure food, water, litter boxes and favorite sleeping places are as far apart as possible and preferably require that your pets climb stairs to get from one to the other.
Remember that weight loss for all of us should be slow and steady - do not expect "Biggest Loser" results! The medical team at Animal Care Clinic is happy to help you with weight loss plans - we have been very successful!
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