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Will My Cat Love Me Less If I Feed Her Less?

 Do cats get angry with owners when they are put on a diet?

Are you as nervous as your cat about your upcoming visit to the veterinarian? After all, you know the kindly doctor is going to mention your cat's weight problem. It's possible that you feel a little guilty that your cat has not only not lost weight since last year's visit but has probably gained some.

You meant to work on your cat's weight loss after the last visit to the veterinarian, you really did. After all, you want your cat to live a long and healthy life, and the vet says that being overweight can cause health problems.

The issue is in the follow-through. You want your cat to love you, and you may be afraid that giving her less food may cause her to love you less.

It's a common fear, and it's not a crazy one. You know your cat loves to eat, so it's easy to jump to the assumption that she'll be angry with you if you don't give her as much of her beloved food.

Not only that, but you might be terrified that, if you decrease her food, your cat will start begging all the time or develop inappropriate behaviors because she's mad at you.

But are these concerns valid?

Science to the Rescue: A Study of Cats and Diets

Researchers studied 58 cats that were placed on diets. They were studied for 8 weeks. Owners were asked to rate certain behaviors that their cats showed before and after they were fed. They were also asked to rate their cats' overall affection levels toward them.

As may be expected, begging behavior in cats increased when their diet was restricted. However, by the end of 8 weeks, it tapered back down to normal.

One finding of the study that might surprise you is that a majority of owners described increased loving behavior by cats after they were fed while they were on a diet. Jumping up into the owners lap to curl up and cuddle after eating increased. That's right; the owners felt that their cats displayed more affection when they were on a diet.

Check with your veterinarian before placing your cat on a diet. Ask what type of food and how much your cat should receive. It's important that overweight cats do not lose weight too quickly, or they may develop a serious liver condition.

A Healthy Alternative to Food for Showing Your Cat You Love Her

The study described above may show us something important. Our cats don't necessarily love us more when we feed them more, but humans may use food as a way of showing our cats that we love them.

Indoor cats have a high tendency of becoming overweight. Cats evolved as hunters that used tons of energy to stalk and catch prey. Since they don't have to do that when they live inside with us, it's easy for them to put on too much weight.

Not only that, but indoor cats can easily become bored and depressed. It's extremely important that they are given an outlet for their predator instincts so they can remain active, alert, and happy.

If your cat comes to you looking for attention, don't substitute a treat or a top off of the food bowl for time and interaction with her. Instead, grab a wand toy and start playing. If you think that your relationship with your cat is good now, imagine how much she'll appreciate 20 minutes a day of play time with you. Probably much more than she'd enjoy a handful of extra treats.

Remember, the best way you can show your cat that you love her is to take great care of her, play with her, and keep her at a healthy weight to avoid obesity related medical problems.

Works Cited

  1. Emily D. Levine, H. N. (2016, Jan.). Owner's perception of changes in behaviors associated with dieting in fat cats. Retrieved from Journal of Veterinary Behavior: DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2015.11.004.

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