They say that food is the way to a man’s heart and this theory definitely applies to cats too! As humans, we naturally dote on our kitties and this desire to show them kindness is easily achieved with food. However, unsurprisingly, obesity rates are on the rise for indoor cats, which can lead to a wealth of health problems such as diabetes, joint breakdown and cancer, all of which can be tricky to treat, costly and heart-breaking for us owners.
With indoor cats spending little to no time outside, activity levels tend to be lower and therefore, they need less calorie intake each day. With that being said, saying no to our furry companions as they rub lovingly around our ankles is no easy feat. So with this in mind, we have compiled some top tips to help you avoid overfeeding an indoor cat.
KNOW THEIR WEIGHT
A good place to start is to keep up-to-date with not only your cat’s weight, but also the average weight of that particular breed. For example, when male Maine Coons reach their full size, they weigh on average between 6-10kg, compared to domestic male cats, which are on average, 4.5-5.5kg. It’s good practice to weigh your cat monthly. Most vets have scales positioned in their reception area and are happy for you to pop in and weigh your kitty at anytime. Alternative, if you have your own scales at home, weigh yourself, pop on the scales again, this time while holding your cat. Deduct your weight from the second reading to figure out the weight of your cat.
MAKE FEEDING INTERACTIVE
Indoor cats are unable to exercise their hunting instinct, so why not make meal time more of a game? Puzzle feeders can tap into a cat’s natural desire to hunt, as well as provide them outlets for their curious and playful nature. They can also slow a cat down when feeding which is great for overweight and obese cats. If you need some inspiration, check out our top 5 interactive puzzle feeders for cats.
BE SAVVY ABOUT HOW MUCH THEY EAT
Whether you feed your cat wet food, dry food or a combination of both, it’s important to know exactly how much food your indoor cat needs. The great thing about major cat food brands, is that their packaging includes a rundown of how much to feed your cat per day, depending on their activity levels. Therefore, an indoor cat will need the smallest amount indicated. If you’re still not sure, speak to your vet who will be able to advise on correct amounts. Then, stick to this amount each day. Furthermore, if your cat is overweight, low calorie food may be ideal. Again, your vet should be able to advise on whether this would be a good option.
USE A MICROCHIP PET FEEDER
If you keep multiple cats in an indoor space, eliminate the problem of one cat eating more than their fair share by using a microchip activated feeder like the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder. This clever feeder recognises a pet’s unique microchip number or RFID collar tag, so it will only open for them, and no other pet in the house. When the authorised pet approaches the feeder the lid slides open automatically to reveal the food, closing again when the pet has finished. This is an excellent solution if you have a fussy eater who likes to graze throughout the day so you can leave food out without fear of your other pets eating it.
TRY INDOOR FOOD TYPES
Many cat food brands also offer cat foods specifically for indoor cats. These are often high in protein and low in calories to promote a healthy weight, while high levels of indigestible fibre helps prevent fur balls developing.
LITTLE AND OFTEN
Cats are naturally grazers and happy to nibble at food throughout the day. If feeding your cat smaller, measured meals a day works for your routine, this can be a great option. Feeding little and often also keeps their energy levels up throughout the day, which helps avoid weight gain. If you are worried about wet food going stale, you can use a sealed pet bowl like this one from Sure Petcare, which is motion activated.
Treats should be just that… a treat! There’s no denying that cats go crazy for these, particularly the ones that come in a little bag that rattles when you shake it. It’s important to remember that your cat doesn’t actually need these so should remain as a treat, rather than becoming a source of additional calories. The same goes for food from your plate. Cats often appear at human’s mealtimes, staring lovingly into your eyes, in the hope of getting a little titbit. If you start this habit, it’s hard to break it so avoid it becoming part of your usual mealtime scenario.
UP THE INDOOR ACTIVITY
Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand, and indoor cats definitely need their fair share of exercise. Cats are natural hunters and so require time everyday to fulfil this need. Regularly playing with your cat is a great way to meet this demand, while keeping them active.
Try out a range of toys to discover which ones spark their intrigue and check out these posts on keeping your indoor cat happy, and these 5 great games you can play with your cat indoors. If you’re away from your home for long periods of time during the day, have a look some of the amazing cat technology options available.
Another great option is a cat wheel, which is an easy way to get indoor cats moving – check out our round-up of 6 of the best cat wheels. There are some many great toys out there, which will keep your cat amused for endless hours, so activity levels will be high for sure.
If you are worried that your cat is overweight, please seek the advice of a vet or a qualified animal nutritionist.
Do you have any top tips to avoid overfeeding your indoor cat? We’d love to know. Tell us in the comments below.