How can I stop my cat from getting bigger?

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Worried that your cat is bigger than he should be? Scared he could become obese? Vet Libby Sheridan shares her advice.

(Q) My active and playful cat weighs 7.5kg - how do I stop him getting any bigger?

(A) Vet Libby Sheridan says: At 7.5kg, your cat is likely to be overweight, though how overweight will depend on his breed and ideal body size. You can assess this for yourself by gauging his body condition score. This is done by looking at and feeling him. (For more information, see the chart and short video at www.pfma.org.uk/pet-size-o-meter)

If the body condition score confirms that he is overweight (or even obese) then I'd recommend you talk to your vet. Many practices run free-of- charge weight clinics and will be able to devise a weight management programme for you. This might involve switching to a special calorie controlled diet for a while, but it's well worth doing.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do at home. In winter, many cats tend to want to snuggle indoors so it's important to keep them moving. Games with throw toys and fishing rod-style toys are great. Start weighing out your cat's food every morning (in accordance with your vet's instructions or the packet. Don't judge it on sight). Divide this daily ration into as many small meals as it is feasible for you to feed, which will depend on your lifestyle and how much you are around. Cut out all treats and any milk, giving only water to drink.

You can even try putting the meals in different places around the house to encourage exercise. There are also fun food dispensers you can buy which encourage play and exercise. Failing that, an empty plastic bottle with kibble-sized holes punched in it is just as good! Weight loss in cats can be much slower than with dogs. You might be looking at six months to a year to reach his target weight, but gentle, gradual weight loss is best and healthier.