An improved quality of life following successful weight loss is the best gift you can give your feline friend. And hopefully you learned, during the course of your cat’s weight loss journey, that your cat didn’t hate you for putting him or her on a diet. In fact, the bond between you and your kitty has grown stronger as a result of your cat’s weight loss journey. That’s success worth celebrating! (Just not with food.)
Now that your cat has reached a normal, healthy weight, how do you keep kitty from weight rebound and avoid yo-yo dieting? We have five tips to help your cat stay slim and trim.
- Use the same feeding practices for weight maintenance that were used for weight loss.
In other words, if you were using portion-controlled meals to help your tubby tabby lose weight, you’ll want to continue to carefully measure the amount of food fed at meal times. However, if you found food puzzles were the secret to helping your cat lose weight, then you’ll want to continue using them — just continue to measure and offer an appropriate amount of food. Food puzzles offer added benefits: they tap into your feline friend’s hunting and stalking instincts and help get him or her moving.
- Continue the same level of daily activity that was included in the weight loss program.
A couple of new toys would be an appropriate (non-food) reward and incentive to keep moving. And you may also find that at a new, lighter weight, your kitty has more energy for play. Or if you and your cat enjoy outdoor time together, a new harness and leash may be the accessories your cat would prefer.
- Keep the limit on food treats, if treating your cat is important to you.
It’s okay to spoil your cat with an occasional food treat if he or she likes them. Really, it’s okay. Just remember, however, that to keep your cat’s diet balanced — and to prevent weight regain — treats should account for less than 10 percent of your cat’s daily calories. And honestly, your svelte feline would most likely prefer your attention, whether that’s some quality lap time or more play time.
- Feed a reduced-calorie cat food rather than switching to your cat’s previous adult maintenance formula.
Some cats can be fed a normal adult maintenance cat food once they’ve reached their ideal body weight and condition. But other cats can easily gain weight eating these diets, even if they’re fed reduced amounts. A weight control (reduced calorie) formula designed for less-active adult cats may be needed. In fact, many specialized diets formulated for weight loss, such as Diamond CARE Weight Management Formula for Adult Cats, can also be fed for weight maintenance. Be sure to talk with your veterinarian about feeding your cat at his or her new weight.
- Schedule follow-up weigh-ins to help avoid weight gain.
Regular weigh-ins during the weight loss process likely played an important role in keeping your cat’s weight loss program on track. They also helped you and your cat’s veterinary care team see the progress being made, even when it may not have seemed like it. Ongoing weight monitoring and adjustments to your cat’s calorie intake as needed will also play a key role in keeping your cat from regaining the weight that was lost. That’s why you’ll want to schedule follow up weigh-ins for your cat at three- to six-month intervals. Your veterinarian may prefer more frequent (every four to six weeks) weigh-ins initially, so be sure to discuss these important visits with him or her.
Weight management will still take effort
You and your cat should be commended on reaching your kitty’s weight loss goal. We know it takes commitment and dedication to help pets achieve an ideal body weight and condition. And helping your cat maintain his or her weight loss will take your continued commitment. But your cat’s improved health and quality of life are worth it!
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