Written by Karen Juffermans
I don’t know about your cats, but my lovely Dirk is a bit overweight… According to International Cat Care about 39-52% of cats in the UK are overweight or obese, so Dirk is certainly not the only one. As you all know, being overweight can lead to other health problems as well, diabetes for example.
It can also lead to issues with the lower urinary tract, such as cystitis. I didn’t actually know this until Dirk developed urinary issues (bladder stones) several years ago. At that point he weighed 5.9 kg, so his weight may well have been a contributing factor. He’s a pretty big guy, but the vet recommended an ideal weight of 5 kg.
So, how to beat the flab?
Given his bladder and weight issues, Dirk is permanently on a special diet, which also means he doesn’t get treats… Fortunately he seems to love his dental dry food as much as treats, so we make him chase those all around the house. We strictly monitor how much he’s eating and of course we try and get him to play as much as possible. Luckily he loves his toys 🙂
He can’t go outside, which would have been an ideal way for him to lose weight, but we let him run up and down the stairs in our apartment building. He absolutely loves it!
His weight has been coming down slowly but steadily, and he’s been at 5.3 kg for a while now (yes, he has a waistline again!).
How has he managed to lose weight?
A few years ago we also started using activity feeders. He used to have a feeder ball during the day and a bowl of food during the night.
Admittedly, Dirk was not immediately taken by the feeder ball. Initially he just ignored it (or didn’t get it) and would wait till evening when we put his food in the bowl… Eventually his curiosity got the better of him and he started playing with the ball. He then discovered food coming out of it! Now he’ll happily chase the ball all around the apartment.
Two issues with the ball, though. First, when you’re trying to sleep and you keep hearing the ball being knocked against the door or walls, that’s not great. And second, whenever we’re on holiday and one of my cat sitting colleagues takes care of him, Dirk always hides the ball (preferably under our bed, shoe cupboard or the sofa). Yes, he prefers a ready meal 🙂
Where’s my food?
We tackled this issue by getting him two more activity feeders, but ones that he doesn’t actually have to move around the house: the toilet roll tower and activity board.
He now always has access to his food, but always has to work for it. He’s eating smaller portions more often during the day and actually seems to enjoy the food games. Hopefully it will also help him lose those final 300 grams to reach his target weight!
And it even works for wet food – don’t worry, your cat will clean up the mess :-)