Common Feeding Pitfalls Resulting in Fat Cats
The wrong kind of treats. Treats may be our biggest enemy in the fat cat battle as they pack a surprising calorie punch. The average adult housecat requires only about 180 to 200 calories each day so a one inch cube of cheddar cheese (about 70 calories) can wreak havoc on your cat’s weight. When compared to an average person eating a 2000 calorie diet, this small cube of cheese is equivalent to eating 3 Hershey’s chocolate bars (690 calories) in addition to normal meals! Vet Tip: Avoid high calorie tidbits (cheese, steak, pizza, etc.) as the calories will add up quickly. Choose healthy lean meats or low calorie treats—like Halo Healthsome Cat Treats varieties.
Too many treats. Many people feed commercial cat treats which commonly have between 3 to 4 calories each. This isn’t a problem if only 5 or 6 treats are fed each day, however, some cat owners will give 20 (or more) which is equivalent to an average adult drinking 5 regular Cokes (700 calories) in addition to normal meals! Vet Tip: Give no more than 20 calories as treats each day and keep your cats total calorie intake (food and treats) around 180 or 200 calories. Even Halo’s Healthsome Cat Treats—with only 1.5 calories each—should be given in moderation.
Large food portions. The average commercial cat food has around 400 calories per cup, therefore the typical cat portion is around ½ cup each day. Vet Tip: Use a level measuring cup when feeding your cat. Don’t make it a rounded cup or a heaping tablespoon as those extra calories will be enough over time to cause your cat to pack on the pounds.
Quick tip on feeding guidelines: If your cat is 13 or more pounds, he is likely overweight or obese and feeding him according to the recommendations found on the food bag is likely to result in continued weight gain. You must feed your cat according to their ideal body weight…not their “over”-weight!
Free-feeding. Leaving food out in the bowl all day long is a recipe for disaster. Cats will eat when bored or when just walking by…instead of when really hungry. Vet Tip: Skip leaving dry food out all day and make a real meal time. This strategy is particularly important for rescue or previously stray cats. These cats, unaccustomed to food being readily available, will often become obese due to overeating if they are free-fed.
Competition for food. In households with multiple cats, when one cat goes to the food bowl others are often driven there out of curiosity or competitive instinct instead of real hunger. Vet Tip: Change to meal feeding or consider separate feeding rooms if there is real competition.
Donna Spector, DVM, DACVIM, ,is a renowned, board-certified Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist who has practiced at the Animal Medical Center in New York City and other leading institutions. She is an active member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Donna has written and lectured extensively on topics including nutrition, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, kidney failure and respiratory disease. She is widely recognized for her role as consulting veterinarian to HALO, Purely for Pets, her TV appearances with Ellen DeGeneres and her widely-quoted pet health advice in print and on radio. Dr. Donna performs medical, nutrition and weight loss consultations for dogs and cats through her web-based veterinary consulting service, www.SpectorDVM.com.