Like humans, cats need to stay active and have a balanced diet in order to maintain a healthy weight. By stocking quality diets and appropriate toys, retailers can help cat owners manage their pets’ weight.
Diets for Dieting Cats
Pet food manufacturers are giving top priority to formulas that promote healthy weight management.
“We currently have a number of recipes in the Wellness family that help support a healthy weight in cats and are planning to introduce more grain-free recipes down the road that also play a vital role in weight management,” said Chanda Leary-Coutu, senior marketing communications manager at WellPet. “We believe that balanced recipes, specifically formulated to fit a cat’s age and lifestyle, can help play a role in keeping them happy and healthy.”
“Fewer grains means there are more protein-rich ingredients to help keep cats fuller longer,” Leary-Coutu added. “By expanding our grain-free offerings, we’ll be able to provide pet parents with more choice when it comes to feeding their cats balanced, delicious meals without grains or fillers that weigh them down. The Wellness Complete Health Healthy Weight for cats has been specifically formulated to help cats with weight challenges. We have focused on the nutrition that overweight cats need to remain healthy with less caloric intake. These cats tend to gain weight because of a less active lifestyle, experience hip and joint problems from carrying excessive weight or aging, and tend to eat more. To counter these challenges, our Healthy Weight recipe is lower in calories than our other recipes and is made with specific levels of quality protein, fat and fiber to help achieve weight goals and promote lean muscle mass.”
“Our Wellness Complete Health Indoor Health recipe is a well-rounded, solution-focused diet of meats, grains and fruits for cats that live indoors,” she added. “It’s been formulated with specific amounts of nutrients for cats that lounge more, groom often and live indoors. These cats tend to gain weight because their lifestyle is more sedentary. They also experience dry skin from continued exposure to indoor air and heat, and have increased hairballs from constant grooming and hair loss from dry skin. This recipe includes Omega-rich ingredients to help reduce shedding and hairballs and less fat and fewer calories to help support weight management.”
The formula is available in a deboned chicken and chicken meal recipe and a salmon and whitefish meal recipe.
Merrick Pet Care is also promoting feline weight management with a grain-free recipe called Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe.
“Cats thrive on a grain free diet high in quality protein with moderate fat levels and low levels of carbohydrates,” said Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet parents relations for Merrick Pet Care. “This natural, 100-percent grain-free formula cat food sourced locally is ideal for adult cats one to seven years old with a focus on maintaining a healthy weight.”
“Deboned chicken is the first ingredient and, along with chicken and turkey meals, helps comprise the 70 percent protein level of meat-sourced ingredients that are highly digestible and rich in essential fatty acids,” he said. “Fresh produce like sweet potatoes and peas provide easily digestible carbohydrates that offer the benefit of sustained energy without upsetting grain-sensitive digestive systems.”
With the growing trend to add toppers and meal mixers to kibble recipes, Halo, Purely For Pets has introduced mix ‘n mores, a tasty protein-packed treat that can be added to the food bowl to satisfy a cat’s ancestral craving for raw protein.
“Mix ‘n mores are made of whole meat that is pasteurized, crumbled, flash frozen and freeze-dried to lock in the natural nutritional value,” said Dr. Donna Spector, a consulting veterinarian for Halo, Purely for Pets. “Freeze-drying provides the ultimate preservation of the whole real meat nutrition along with the aroma and taste that cats love.”
“However, with the popularity of toppers, care must be taken to avoid overfeeding, even when the topper is a low-calorie option like mix ‘n mores,” Spector warned. “No more than 10 percent of a pet’s daily calories should be fed as a topper. When toppers are fed, the amount of dry or wet food must be reduced to prevent overfeeding and unnecessary weight gain.”
As a rule of thumb, Spector suggested reducing a pet’s canned or dry food amount proportionally with the amount of toppers added.
According to Holly Sher, owner of Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Co., cat owners should give their cats more canned food then dry food.
“Many cat owners are unaware of the benefits of a canned food for weight management,” Sher said. “Dry foods are high in carbohydrates, whereas many canned foods are nutrient dense and can be a smarter alternative for weight control.
“Canned recipes not only have more moisture and protein then dry foods, but they also have fewer calories from carbohydrates and starches,” she explained. “All Evanger’s and Against the Grain canned recipes such as the Chicken and Pumpkin Samba, the Captain’s Catch with Sardine and Mackerel, and the Aloha Tuna with Seaweed and Crab meet these requirements.”
Play Away the Pounds
While food is one part of the weight management equation, exercise and general play are equally important. There is a growing selection of interactive feline toys to keep cats moving. Motion toys with erratic movements are cats’ best friends when it comes to revving up play and promoting exercise.
Made from recycled plastic and featuring a quiet motor, the Petlinks Dizzy Thing is a spinning, feathery toy that captivates cats with the unpredictable movements they instinctually adore.
Many cats also respond to catnip-induced toys that awaken activity. Apart from catnip, the Asian plant silver vine that also stimulates a cat’s pounce-and-play drive is growing in popularity in the United States. Worldwise Inc. has produced a proprietary blend of catnip and silver vine called HyperNip scheduled to launch this fall.