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5 questions on feeding habits in cats

[From Tufts March 2010 Issue]

Know what your cat’s normal weight should be, and weigh her regularly. If she gains a pound, strive to get it off again. To properly address your cat’s weight issues, our veterinary nutritional experts pose these five questions:

1. What are you feeding your cat? Seek to raise protein levels and reduce carbohydrate and calorie levels. Cat food label recommendations are for intact, rather than spayed or neutered cats, so adjust them downward by 25 percent.

2. How are you feeding your cat? Don’t allow your cat unlimited access to food. Many cats will free-feed themselves into obesity.

3. Is your cat a couch potato? Make your cat’s indoor environment more interesting and provide interactive games and toys that encourage your cat to stalk, pounce and leap.

4. Does your kitten eat canned food? Kittens under 6 months of age are just learning what food is. Cats who have eaten only dry food all their lives might never accept canned food, says Debra Zoran, DVM, associate professor and chief of medicine at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in College Station. At some point in your cat’s life, she may develop a disease, such as obesity, that is best managed with a canned prescription diet. If your cat won’t eat it, your treatment options are limited.

5. Does your overweight cat eat the same food as your cat who is at a healthy weight? Try feeding them in separate locations, or monitor the situation while you open the mail or brush your teeth, suggests Dr. Zoran. Afterward, remove any leftovers. It only takes a few minutes, and the payoffs can be huge.

— By Elissa Wolfson

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