Obesity among cats is becoming an epidemic in the United States. With more cats living indoors, many tend to be less active and over eat. Overweight cats are more likely to develop health issues, skin conditions and in many cases have a shorter life span.

Many pet owners also associate food with love, which can lead to obesity. In many cases, the closer the bond is between the owner and cat the more likely it is for the cat to be obese.

If your cat is looking a little heavy, there are a few steps you can take to help them increase their activity levels and shed the unwanted weight.

Put the Food Away
Leaving a bowl of food out throughout the day is a major cause of obesity among cats. Unlike humans, cats prefer to eat alone. When living in the wild, cats hunt for their prey and eat several smaller meals each day. Rather than leaving food out for your cat to snack on during the day, feed them several small meals. This will help to keep your cat active and healthy.

Don’t Skip the Meat
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they must eat meat. In order to keep cats at their optimum weight, their diets should be rich in protein and low in carbohydrates.

Don’t Trust the Packaging
Many pet food packages suggest serving sizes that are too large. Most of the recommended serving sizes are based for highly active animals that have not been spayed or neutered.

Make Them Work for It
Food dispensers that encourage cats to play for their food can be a great solution for lazy cats. When introducing devices like these, it is important to do so alongside the old dish.

Loose the Bulk
Gradual weight loss is the best type of weight loss. When putting your cat on a diet it is important to reduce their food intake slowly, especially when they are seriously overweight. When limiting their food intake to rapidly you put them at risk for developing fatty liver disease, which can be a life threatening condition.

Assess the Environment
It is important to assess the factors that lead to your cat being overweight. In most cases, environmental factors are to blame. It is important to assess whether your cat feels comfortable in your home and has enough activity to keep him stimulated and happy.

Get Active
Activity and enrichment is a key component to a healthy life and successful weight loss. Playing with your pet can help to strengthen your bond and improve their waist line at the same time. Games that mimic predatory behavior are one of the best choices for exercise. Climbing structures can also help your pet to shred the excess pounds.

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