Got a Fat Feline? How to Help Your Cat Shed Those Extra Pounds

Get Moving

Cats and exercise go together like ... well, okay, they don’t seem to go together, but the truth is that many cats are athletes of the highest order. Anyone who has seen one jump onto the kitchen counter or a high bookshelf knows that cats often have the capacity to move with speed, power and agility. We just need to harness their desire to do so.

Encourage your cat to move by spreading his food out around the house. Divide the amount of food he’s allowed daily into half a dozen small portions, place them in little containers and hide them in different places: upstairs, downstairs, in your closet, on a windowsill. Make him work for his food. You can also place the food inside a puzzle toy that he must roll or push to get the food to fall out. The goal is to keep him moving while he's eating.

You can't rely on your cat to up his exercise quotient, though — you'll have to participate, too. Schedule two to three minutes of playtime several times a day. Wiggle a peacock feather or fishing-pole-type toy for him to pounce on. Toss a small ball down the hall for him to chase. Schedule some of these exercise sessions first thing in the morning and in the evening, when your diurnal pet is most likely to be active, and he’ll be more willing to participate.

Follow Up

Work out a schedule with your veterinarian for brief exams to check his progress. Often, this simply involves a quick in and out visit to get him weighed and won’t cost you a cent, other than the drive time. Your veterinarian may check in with you by phone or email to make sure you aren’t having any problems or to see if you have any questions.

At the four-month mark, Dr. Scherk recommends another visit to make sure weight loss is on target and see if any changes must be made. And if you have any questions or concerns along the way, don't be afraid to ask — your vet is happy to help you and your cat out on this weight loss journey.

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