Most of us know by now that excess weight contributes to many serious health problems and shortens life spans. That is as true for cats as it is for people. Very rarely, obesity is due, at least in part, to a medical problem.
More often, though, excess weight is the direct result of an animal eating more calories than she burns. Several factors determine how much food your cat needs to maintain a proper weight and optimum health.
- Activity level - an active cat needs more food than a couch kitty. As long as your cat remains active, her caloric needs will remain about the same.
- Quality of food - the nutritional value and calories in commercial and homemade feline diets vary widely. The higher the nutritional value of your cat's food, the less she needs to eat.
- Individual variations - your cat is an individual, with her own looks, personality and nutritional needs.
If your cat has packed on some extra weight, it is up to you to help her slim down. If you have been free feeding, switch to schedules meals so that you can control what she eats. Be aware that the portions recommended on most commercial cat foods are estimates and may be too much for your cat, especially if her energy expenditures have slowed down.
Use manufacturer recommendations as a starting point, and then adjust your cat's daily rations according to her weight. A weight reduction food may help, but I have seen many overweight pets who have eaten weight control formulas for years.
The simple fact is that too much food leads to excess weight. A complete discussion of nutritious homemade cat foods is beyond the scope, but you can find accurate information at your library or on the internet.
Be careful, though, a lot of people post bad information on websites and discussion lists. Check the writer's credentials, and do not rely on a single source. Also, work with your veterinarian, especially if your aging cat is being treated for any health problems.
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