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This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Food, Shelter, & Love™ Program, but Paws and Effect only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

A lot of people think fat cats are cute, but obesity is actually a huge problem (pardon the pun) among cats. Some of this has to do with a lack of understanding of how many calories a cat needs in order to maintain a healthy body weight, some has to do with not knowing or misunderstanding the feeding recommendations provided by the cat food manufacturer, and some has to do with a “set it and forget it” mentality.

A cat sniffs at a camera lens as if in search of food

Isn’t there some food here for me?

According to this article from All Feline Hospital the average indoor cat only needs 20 calories per pound to maintain a stable weight, so if your cat weighs 10 pounds, he should only be eating 200 calories a day. Keep in mind that cats vary in their metabolism, activity level, and so on, so if you’re feeding your cat 200 calories a day and he’s gaining weight, reduce the amount you feed him.

All cat foods are labeled with guidelines about how much food to feed per day. Some people misinterpret the amount to feed per day as the amount to feed per meal, and that can lead to weight gain. If you’re following the manufacturer’s recommendations and your cat is getting heavier, cut back on the food.

Part of the reason cats are considered such low-maintenance pets is because you can theoretically just throw down a dish full of food and go about your day. But cats eat out of boredom and stress too, and a cat that has nothing to do but eat will quickly gain weight — and all those pounds are eventually going to lead to trouble.

An animal shelter volunteer holds a long-haired tortoiseshell cat

Wilma was one of my favorite diabetic kitties. She was a bit chunky when she came to us, but she was already starting to lose weight when I met her.

Hills Food, Shelter, Love logo and Science Diet logoObesity is a leading cause of diabetes in cats. I saw this firsthand in the time when I volunteered at a no-kill animal shelter in Maine. We had a room full of diabetic kitties, and many of them were overweight when they came to us. After being fed an appropriate diet and getting lots of love and exercise, many of our “sugar kitties” shed those extra pounds and went into remission as a result.

Hill's Perfect Weight dry foodObesity is surprisingly common in shelter kitties: the combination of stress and a sedentary lifestyle, particularly in shelters where cats spend a large part of the day in cages, can pack on the pounds. Fortunately, Hills’ Food, Shelter & Love program has been helping many rescues get their charges back in shape and ready for adoption.

As a participant in the Food, Shelter & Love program, the Denver Dumb Friends League has been feeding its chunky kitties Hill’s Perfect Weight cat food. They’ve seen 70 percent of their fat cats lose weight in 10 weeks when they were fed this nutrition, and because it works for cats of different breeds and weights, they don’t have to worry about the challenge of feeding overweight and normal-weight cats in the same space.

Check out the the happy tale of Stoli, one of DDFL’s Perfect Weight cat food success stories.

If you’re interested in trying Hill’s Perfect Weight cat food, you can buy it here. It comes in both dry and canned varieties, and your purchase will help to support the Food, Shelter & Love program.

In the long run, I don’t think it matters what food you give your cat, as long as you’re feeding appropriate amounts of it. That, along with environmental enrichment and daily exercise, will go a long way toward keeping your furry friend in fine form.