Did you know that approximately 25 to 50 percent of cats in the United States are overweight, and another 5 to 15 percent are obese? Depending on the gender, body type and breed, the average cat should weigh between 9 and 12 pounds (4.1 - 5.4 kg). Cats are considered overweight when they are 10 percent over their ideal body weight, and they are considered obese when they are 20 percent over their ideal weight.
Obesity in cats is a big problem because most people over feed them, which leads to weight gain. Cats are small animals and most only need between 1/4 cup (113 g) and 1/2 cup (227 g) of food twice a day. A cat's stomach is about the size of a 50 cent piece before it expands. Obesity can lead to health problems including feline diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and joint pain.
To determine if your cat is overweight, run your hands along his ribs. You should be able to feel his ribs but not see them. If you feel a thick layer of fat, your cat is overweight and should be put on a diet.
If you have an obese cat, you can help him to lose weight naturally. One way is to reduce the portion sizes of the food that you are feeding. Do not starve your cat or stop regular feedings, simply reduce the amounts of food that he gets per serving. A veterinarian can recommend a good quality diet or weight maintaining food.
Another way to help your cat to lose weight is to increase the amount of exercise that he gets every day. Schedule small blocks of time (five to ten minutes) each day to play with him. It can be a simple game of chasing a string, running after a ping pong ball, or batting a crumpled piece of paper around the house.
Start with short exercise sessions and gradually build on them as your cat's endurance increases. If he likes walking on a leash, take him for a short walk (up and down the driveway) once or twice a day to get him active. Remember, the more your cat moves, the more calories he will burn.
The amount you should feed your cat depends on his size, weight, age, and activity level.