How does a cat’s metabolism work?

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Pet waistlines are expanding as rapidly as human ones. With the concern about the pet obesity epidemic, many are wondering if it’s possible to reset a cat’s metabolism.
It is possible, but please understand that the process is gradual and involves both increased activity and portion control.

The first thing you must understand is basic feline nutrition. Cats are strict meat-eaters, so they do best on a high protein diet of real meat. In fact, they lack the enzyme to properly digest plant-based foods, many of which are carbohydrates. Like humans, too many carbohydrates will make cats gain weight.

The second thing you need to understand is that cats are masters at conserving energy. They can sleep up to 20 hours a day, so you might need to add some extra activity to her day!

What you don’t want to do is fast her or otherwise make her lose weight too quickly, because that leads to other health problems, namely hepatic lipidosis, a fatty liver disease in cats.

To change your cat’s metabolism, follow these guidelines:

• Keep her on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, one that contains real meat instead of grain as the primary ingredient. This will satisfy your cat’s hunger, and she will need less food as a result. Canned food contains more protein that dried kibble; you may also want to feed her a few smaller meals, rather than one of two large ones.
• Replace traditional cat treats with homemade, protein-rich treats such as small pieces of tuna pops or liver cookies (please see our recipe in a separate post.) Many cat treats are loaded with fillers that do not satiate your cat.
• Give her extra playtime! Like us, your cat must burn more calories than she consumes. Purchase interactive toys such as feathers on long sticks or strings, and spend 15 to 20 minutes per day playing with your cat. If your cat tires quickly, begin with a five-minute play session and gradually increase playtime when she exhibits more energy. Your cat’s metabolism will speed up naturally if she is on a daily exercise regimen.

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