Is fasting healthy for cats ? Let’s find out !
Many specialists would advise intermittent fasting when people want to lose weight. This occurs when a person will only eat at specific times of the day, usually for a very brief time. Up to 16 hours or more of fasting—or not eating—come after this. Sadly, some people might wish to apply that principle to their cat and try to fast them in an effort to lose weight. However, starving your cat or depriving them of food for an extended period of time might have negative health implications.
We’ll go over why you should never fast your cat, what can happen if you do, and some healthier feeding practices to adopt so that your cat can reduce its weight and live a healthy life in this post.
What Does Fasting Mean?
When an animal goes without food for prolonged periods of time, it fasts. When it comes to cats, many owners simply fill the dish and leave, often forgetting to check the bowl for a day or two and replenish it. This happens frequently, especially when an owner takes a brief trip out of town. They might put food in the cat’s bowl, go out of town, and figure that the cat would eat what’s left over over the course of the next three to four days.
Your cat, however, is unaware of your return time. They might believe they have won the lottery and are receiving a colossal meal. Your cat might gobble up the entire bowl in one or two sittings before going days without meals.
On other occasions, your vet might have advised you that your cat is overweight and could benefit from losing a few pounds. You could imagine that intermittent fasting, which your doctor might advise for your weight loss efforts, will be advantageous for your cat as well. Therefore, you only give your cat one tiny meal every day and deprive it of food at the same time the next day. Cats should not do this; let’s talk about why.
What may possibly occur if I fast my cat?
If cats are fasting, they are more likely to develop fatty liver disease, also known as hepatic lipidosis. Because it does not occur in dogs, fatty liver disease is specific to cats. A cat’s body will start to quickly break down fat to provide energy and nutrients if they go longer than a few days without eating. The liver will eventually be unable to process this breakdown. Therefore, to further complicate the process, the liver will start to store that fat inside of and around the individual liver cells.
Cats who are already overweight or obese are more likely to develop fatty liver disease. They only need to go a few days without eating for this to happen. Before a cat stops eating, it frequently has another underlying ailment like diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, IBD, or cancer. It can also happen incidentally if you leave your cat alone for a few days and they decide not to eat either due to stress or because they’ve already consumed the food bowl you left them.
What Will Take Place If My Cat Develops Fatty Liver Disease?
Fatty liver disease, also known as hepatic lipidosis, is a particularly challenging condition to treat. To diagnose the illness, your veterinarian will likely order blood tests, an ultrasound, and frequently liver tissue samples. To restore the liver to its normal function, your cat will next require vigorous dietary care for a few months.
Getting that nourishment into your cat is tricky, though. Your cat may become extremely nauseated, start throwing up, and lose their appetite if they have a fatty liver. Even then, they frequently throw up whatever they eat. In order to feed your cat consistently and precisely while also administering drugs to treat nausea and support liver function, a feeding tube is implanted.
A veterinarian must install feeding tubes, which might be challenging to handle. Both the owner and the veterinarian must be dedicated to caring for a cat who has hepatic lipidosis. While your cat is being nursed back to health, weeks of food preparation, measuring, feeding, and repeat bloodwork need to be carried out. Unfortunately, because their livers never fully heal from the condition, many cats may pass away.
What About Fasting Prior to Surgery, though?
Prior to operations like a spay or neuter, your cat’s physician can advise a brief fast. Only one night is needed to do this. In other words, your cat can eat normally the evening before surgery, but breakfast is frequently skipped the morning of the procedure. However, if your cat has an underlying condition like diabetes, your vet might still advise you to give it a little meal the morning of the procedure.
Your veterinarian’s office frequently performs surgeries in the morning so that your cat can be fed in the afternoon after recovering. If your cat needs surgery because it is obese, discuss your concerns with your vet regarding a protracted fast.
How to Assist Your Cat in Losing Weight
As was previously said, cats who are already overweight or obese are more likely to develop fatty liver disease. In spite of the fact that it may seem paradoxical, you should continue to feed your overweight cat at the scheduled mealtimes. Measuring food is the first step in helping your cat reduce weight. Too frequently, a bowl of uncertain size and content is replenished once or twice each day for a contented cat. You might not be aware of the bowl’s capacity or the real caloric intake of your cats. Measure the food for your cats first using a regular-sized measuring cup.
Avoid piling the scoop! For breakfast and dinner, a tiny heap might easily contribute an extra 1/4–1/2 cup of unnecessary calories. Start off with two scheduled meals per day despite your cat’s inevitable grousing.
Once you are aware of the daily food intake for your cat, discuss it with your vet and develop a strategy for the future. It might just require making tiny adjustments every few months until your cat reaches a healthy weight. Due to the higher water content in canned food compared to dry kibble, your veterinarian may also advise doing so. Unknowingly, your cat may be eating less calories than she would from a bowl of dry food because she enjoys the occasional canned meal.
There are some excellent prescription weight-loss meals for cats on the market right now if your cat is still gaining weight or is unable to drop it. Ask your veterinarian for their recommendations.
Remember that feeding your cat homemade food could also be risky. For the health of their organs, cats require particularly specific amounts of protein, water, and other nutrients like taurine. Your cat could experience major health effects if any of these numbers are inaccurate. Additionally, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need meat to exist.
Fasting your cat is never advised, whether it happens on purpose or accidently when you go away. After just a few days without food, cats are susceptible to acquiring the illness known as hepatic lipidosis, often known as fatty liver disease. This occurs more frequently in already obese or overweight cats. Many cats will die from fatty liver disease because their livers never fully heal from the condition, and it can be challenging, expensive, and time-consuming to cure.
Ask a friend or pet sitter to pop by at least once a day while you are away to clean the cats’ litter boxes and provide them new food and water. If you want your cat to lose weight, start by weighing out the proper amount of food and feeding it to them twice daily. To ensure that your cat is receiving all of the essential daily nutrients for optimum health, always get veterinary guidance on the type and quantity of food you are providing.