Five Steps to a Fitter Feline

Clara Basch would rather not think of her cat as overweight. "He's not fat," she insists. "He's just cuddly."

But it turns out her beloved Fritz indeed was overweight. She just didn't notice it. Basch, of Arlington Heights, Illinois, saw instead the sweet, affectionate nature of her newly adopted pet, but when friends and neighbors saw her 17-pound friend, they looked beyond his friendliness and saw Fritz as a super-size feline.

Problems with Extra Pounds

Fritz certainly isn't alone in senior cat health concerns. It's a troubling trend; just like in humans, the average weight of cats is increasing. Lorraine Jarboe, DVM, of Sandy Spring, Maryland, says cats today are becoming heavier. "Twenty years ago, the average cat weighed 8 pounds," she says. "Now most cats weigh 10 pounds."

Extra weight can contribute to or aggravate problems such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Increased risk of complications in surgery
  • Grooming difficulties

Click here for more information on caring for your overweight cat.

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What is an Ideal Weight?

Unlike dogs, there's not a vast difference between the largest breed of cat and the smallest. Still, knowing the average weights of different breeds helps determine the ideal weight for your cat. Here are some guidelines:

  • Small cats, including the Cornish Rex, some Oriental Shorthairs and Siamese, should weigh 6 to 7 pounds.
  • Medium cats, like the Burmese, Abyssinian and most unpedigreed cats should weigh 8 to 12 pounds.
  • Large cats, like the Maine Coon, Manx, Persian and Ragdoll can weigh up to 20 pounds.
  • No matter what breed of cat you have, if you follow the five steps below, you'll be on your way to having a fitter feline and better senior cat health.
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Step 1: Schedule an Exam

Body structure and health needs vary. Your veterinarian can help you decide the right weight for your cat. "If a cat is too heavy for me to examine the abdomen," Dr. Jarboe says, "I'm adamant about weight loss."

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Step 2: Get Him Moving

Playing with your cat is a great way to keep her active and it's fun for you, too. Throw her stuffed mouse across the room. Put catnip in a Kong cube toy and let her chase it. Encourage your cat to follow you around the house. Every little bit of exercise helps. Experts suggest at least 20 minutes of play or exercise a day for cats.

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Step 3: Choose the Best Diet

Your cat's nutritional needs depend on his age, activity level and health. IAMS® Weight Control™ Formulas in Dry, Canned or Pouches are perfect for healthy adult cats that need to lose a few pounds or just maintain their weight. It helps control your cat's weight because it has fewer calories and less fat than IAMS® Regular Adult Cat Foods.

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Step 4: Measure the Food

When calculating portions, work from your cat's goal weight (obtained from your veterinarian) and use the feeding guidelines on the package as a starting point. Never put your cat on a crash diet. This may contribute to liver disease. And measure your cat's food carefully. That handful you thought was one-third of a cup could be one-half.

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Step 5: Be Consistent

When cutting back, you may have to endure some pitiful meows, but you're helping your cat get fit for his own good. Clara Basch solved the problem by buying her cat an automatic feeder. Now, Fritz gets the right amount of food when he wants it. "And I get to sleep in," Basch says

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To Learn More About Your Cat's Health

For more information on your cat's health, visit our Questions and Answers Section's Frequently Asked Questions. You'll find information on many of your most common health concerns, or you can forward your question to the Iams® Pet Care and Nutrition Specialists.

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