The secret: owner compliance of long-term calorie restriction.
Fat cat? Here’s how much to feed to lose weight
Does your cat lay around all day, only getting up to eat and visit the litter box? Chances are, he’s overweight. Maybe you’ve switched to the “diet” cat food or tried feeding him less, but you might have noticed it’s not easy to get that weight off. A new study from the University of Illinois explains what it takes to get kitty to slim down.
“The intent with this diet was a healthy weight loss: getting rid of fat while maintaining lean mass. The big question was how much does it take to make cats lose weight, especially lazy neutered males?
It turns out you have to keep reducing their food intake because they’re not very active. It takes a long time.”
-Dr. Kelly Swanson, Kraft Heinz Company Endowed Professor in Human Nutrition in the Department of Animal Sciences and the Division of Nutritional Sciences at U of Illinois.
To achieve that 1.5 percent loss, the researchers had to cut food intake by 20 percent compared to a maintenance diet. But that was only the first reduction. Swanson and his colleagues found that to achieve continued weight loss, they had to keep cutting intake every week.
“We had to keep going down, but it can be hard to convince a pet owner to do that. You might get owners to reduce intake from 60 to 50 grams per day, but we’re telling them they might have to go to 45 or 40 grams. We got really low, but we were monitoring them so they were healthy.”
The goal was a healthy body condition score of 5 on a 9-point scale…An animal with an ideal BCS of 5 has a little layer of fat on the ribs, but has a tuck at the waist.
“The second thing that needs to change is the owner’s behavior: getting them to reduce food intake to maintain a healthy BCS. Food companies recognize that many owners feed too much, so they’re trying to formulate their diets so it’s easier for the animals to maintain or lose weight even if an owner overfeeds.”
Journal Reference: Marissa R. Pallotto, Maria R. C. de Godoy, Hannah D. Holscher, Preston R. Buff, Kelly S. Swanson. Effects of weight loss with a moderate-protein, high-fiber diet on body composition, voluntary physical activity, and fecal microbiota of obese cats. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 2018; 79 (2): 181 DOI: 10.2460/ajvr.79.2.181