It is said you are what you eat, and as humans we know how true that is. Unfortunately many of our waistlines also show it. It is the same with our cats, they are what they eat or for that matter what they do not eat.

Cats by nature are carnivores, which means they are meat eaters and get most of their nutrition from protein and fat. Cats need very few carbohydrates in their diets to keep healthy and trim.

Carbohydrates as a main source of food such as feeding dry food as a constant diet to a cat will cause the cat to overeat. Overeating carbs causes cats to gain weight, just like it does for us.

Why do cats over eat the dry food? The answer is simple they are trying to find the protein in it; in order to satisfy their natural need for protein.

A protein filled diet will make the cat feel fuller and eat less. There are many schools of thought on what makes a proper protein diet for cats. Some sources say feed them a diet of raw meat and other sources proclaim canned cat food. Personally I feed my cats dry food as treats, raw meat (beef) as part of their daily diet and quality canned food which gives them all the necessary vitamins and minerals a cat needs.

A total raw diet will not provide the cat with all the proper nutrition a cat needs. I know from experience as I have a cat that will not eat cat food if his life depended on it and it does. As a result he almost died from the lack of proper nutrition until I figured out a way to feed him vitamins and some of the cat food he needed to stay alive. Most cats however are happy eating a combination of all three-food groups as my other two cats are.

Many of us are guilty of overfeeding our cats. Cats do not need to eat every time they come near us. Regular routine feeding schedules fit a cat’s lifestyle and provides a way for us to feed them just the right amounts to keep their weight at a constant level.

Did you know that about 25 percent of our cats are obese and that almost 60 percent are overweight? Extra weight on a cat is detrimental to its health, just like it is for our health.

What are some of the health problems that overweight can cause?

1. A shorter life expectancy
2. High blood pressure and heart disease
3. Breathing problems
4. Diabetes (extremely possible in overweight cats)
5. Grooming problems and skin disorders (if they are too fat to properly groom themselves)
6. Urinary tract problems and kidney disorders
7. A fatty liver disease called Hepatic lipidosis (when excess fat clogs the liver and can result in liver failure and possible death). Should your cat become ill or you try to reduce its weight and the cat is not eating. The stored fat in the body starts to mobilize and starts processing into lipoproteins and the livers get over powered with fat and reacts. A yellowing of your cat’s eyes is one sure sign. This is a very serious disease.

To prevent your cat from becoming overweight you need with the help of your veterinarian or other pet care nutritionist to decide the proper amount of food you should feed your cat. Your cat’s activity level or non-activity level should be the leading factor in that determination. As cats get older their metabolic rates slow down and need less food.

If your cat needs to lose weight, it needs to lose it slowly, no starvation diets here and no withholding food (see Hepatic lipidosis). Cats need to lose weight in ounces and not in pounds.

Feeding your cat low calorie foods is important. High quality canned cat food with few carbohydrates is the way to go. Dry food is high carbs and should be a no no! If you feel a treat is necessary a bit of raw meat or a small bit of cheese will do nicely. A wonderful treat would be a little bit of good catnip that would help your cat's digestive system and provide a bit of enjoyment for the cat too. Almost like having a cocktail before dinner is for us.

To help your cat lose weight it needs to exercise! Yes, that ugly word and how do you get your cat to exercise, when walking to the litter box is the most exercise it gets.

You play with your cat. Get one of those inexpensive fishing wand toys and make kitty run around a little chasing it. Ten minutes a day several times a day will do wonders for kitty and you will get a chance to bond with your cat and enjoy the fun, too. The pet store has many interesting and catnip filled toys that your cat maybe interested in playing with. Toys do not need to be expensive, just something kitty likes.

Do not leave food out all day so kitty can nibble. Establish a routine and feed kitty several times a day, small amounts at a time. Your cat will enjoy a routine and you can monitor what it is eating.

Playing with your cat is a great stress reliever after a busy day at work. You will get some health benefits, such as lower blood pressure and your cat will get the exercise it needs to be slim and trim. What more can you ask for?

Author's Bio: 

Audrey has been a cat lover all her life. She and her husband are currently the parents of three very individual felines, that keep them constantly on their toes. Audrey is also the author of a popular cat book called "So! You Want to Get a Cat" which can be purchased on line at all the book stores.