Unfortunately, obesity in cats is a significantly documented problem, particularly as of late. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over 50 percent of pet cats were deemed to be either overweight or obese in 2011.
While these statistics may be alarming, perhaps even more alarming are the additional health complications that can be caused by obesity. Veterinarians warn that overweight cats are more prone to the following ailments:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Kidney Disease
- Liver Disease
- Respiratory Disease
- Skin Conditions
If you have noticed a change in your cat’s weight or are concerned about her current health, below we’ll discuss causes of obesity, and what you can do to help restore kitty’s health.
What Leads to Obesity?
As with humans and every other creature, cats gain weight by eating more calories than they expend in energy throughout the day. Generally, overeating or inactivity leads to this imbalanced equation.
- Overeating: Cats are more prone to overeat if their food dish is left out all day long. Having a constant flow of food may encourage excess eating, and ultimately, additional weight gain.
- Inactivity: Felines that live in smaller homes or apartments are more likely to pack on the pounds. Without outdoor exercise or a large area to play, kitty’s activity level naturally decreases.
Signs of Obesity
- Unable to feel your cat’s ribs or backbones because of extra fat.
- You cannot easily determine where the waistline is from a viewpoint above.
- From the side, your cat’s abdomen appears to hang low rather than being “tucked in” near the ribs.
- The excess fat is visible near chest, hips, back and base of tail.
The following types of cats should weigh anywhere from:
- Domestic cat: 8 to 10 pounds
- Siamese cat: 5 to 10 pounds
- Persian cat: 7 to 12 pounds
- Maine Coone: 10 to 25 pounds
Your veterinarian knows best what your specific cat should weigh, but if it falls outside these guidelines, it is a good idea to ask your veterinarian if weight loss measures are right for your kitty.
What Is In a Healthy Diet?
As mentioned before, it is generally best not to leave food out for your feline all day long. Typically, the following are suggested for healthy living:
- Only feed your cat twice a day. Rather than leaving food out all day, placing food out twice, roughly 12 hours apart, is a good approach to weight loss.
- Incorporate wet food into the diet. Wet foods contain higher amounts of protein and water, and fewer carbohydrates. This is necessary in most cat diets, as our four-legged friends are carnivores and thrive more on protein than carbs. The extra water also adds more fluids to kitty’s daily intake.
How Your Cat Can Lose Weight
Here are some other tips to help control weight. Please note: all weight loss measures should be discussed and approved by your pet’s veterinarian first.
- Play, Play, Play! Get your cat moving with an inexpensive, dollar store laser pointer or a fluffy stuffed mouse on a string. These are both toys that will have your furry friend up and moving around in no time.
- Leave toys around when you’re not home. Create options for your cat to play and get active even when you’re not there. Leave toys out that she specifically knows how to play with by herself.
- Hide meals and treats. Cats are hunters by nature. Move their food bowl to a less-traveled area of the house, so kitty will have to move around and search to find it and get in some extra exercise.
- Limit the treats. Treats should not be more than 15 percent of kitty’s daily diet. Avoid providing table scraps.
With these tips and tricks, Princess will be on her way to a healthier, longer life quickly. Just remember – slow and steady wins the race. Dramatically reducing kitty’s diet can cause additional health complications. With advice from your veterinarian, slowly reducing kitty’s body weight is the way to go.
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