Obesity in cats is becoming a common challenge among many pet owners internationally. According to the International Cat Care, about 50 % of all felines are obese. This problem is more profound in the western nations, including The USA, Canada, U.K, Germany, and France among others.
To show you how this issue is serious, WebMd.com, notes that the issue of feline obesity has become a global concern in recent days. In fact, the number of obese cats exceeds that of normal ones.
For those who do not know, feline overweight and obesity mean that your feline friend is becoming unusually fat.
Why do cats become fat? The most direct answer is one; they eat too much with little or no exercise.
Do not ignore the issue of obesity in felines since it is a health-threatening condition and common diseases in cats, such as diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory ones, are related to obesity.
When is your cat obese - meaning?
What is your cat’s optimal weight? Understanding its optimal weight will help you to identify whether it is obese or not.
Let us use an illustration. For instance, if the optimum feline weight is approximately 10 pounds (depending on the breed), and it currently weighs 20 % more than its optimal weight, then it’s considered obese.
As already hinted, optimal weights will vary based on different breeds. For example, some breeds weigh as little as 5 pounds while others weigh up to 25 pounds. Therefore ensure you know how many pounds you feline should maximally weigh.
If you notice a big change, begin by managing its diet, let it exercise since if ignored, obesity will significantly shorten your cat’s life expectancy.
Symptoms and cat obesity chart
You can easily tell if your cat is obese or not. According to petmd.com, to know if your feline is obese or not, you can make use of the cat obesity chart. This chart uses condition scoring to ascertain whether it is overweight or not.
The chart is divided into two; 1 to 5 and 5 to 9 scales. When the score is one, your feline is considered too thin and unhealthy. When the score is between 7 and 9, it is considered obese. 3 and 5 are considered ideal scores.
Below are some of the physical symptoms that you may identify or notice in your feline if it is obese:
- Rapid weight gain
- General laziness
- Excess body fat
Combining condition scoring and physical observation will give you a clear picture of whether your cat is obese or not.
Risk factors or causes
Your feline won’t just become obese overnight. Obesity is a process. Weight gain in these pets indicates two things; high-calorific food intake and little or no exercises. In short, it is known as a positive energy balance.
Generally, obesity in cats depends on the following risk factors
Calories taken vs exercises
In this case, how much your feline eats and how much it exercises determines whether it will be obese or not. Commonly, energy taken should balance with the energy used. If this is not the case, there would be an unavoidable positive energy balance.
The breed of your cat also influences its vulnerability to obesity. For example, moggies are likely to gain excess weight than purebred. In this case, the cross-breeding of felines makes them more susceptible to weight gain and obesity.
Obesity in felines highly depends on whether it is neutered or not. Neutering is the castration of the male cat. This involves the removal of the testes. In females, it involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries.
If your cat is neutered, then it is most likely to become obese. It is believed that neutered ones have decreased physical activities. Consequently, a lot of calories consumed are rarely utilized.
Age of the cat
Age is another key determinant of whether your cat will become obese or not. According to vetstreet.com, obesity mainly occurs in felines that are aged between 2 and 10 years. While below 2 years, they are usually very active, thus less likely to become obese. On the other hand, those above 2 years are always passive, thus more likely to gain excess weight.
In most cases, the cat’s appetite is at its maximum when it is above 5 years. This, however, changes when it hits 10 years. Commonly, those above 10 years are always underweight.
Cats, alongside other pets, gain weight in proportion to the foods consumed. You have heard pet owners enquiring about the best food for overweight cats. This tells you one thing; foods that eaten play a significant role in shaping your feline's weight.
Feline weight gain, therefore, is highly dependent on diet. According to petmd.com, overweight felines tend to eat energy dense foods. They are also known to eat very palatable foods. These foods highly encourage obesity in pets, especially including felines.
As earlier noted in this article, feline obesity is life-threatening. Your cat’s life expectancy highly depends on its overall weight. According to thesspruce.com, common diseases in obese cats include:
- Diabetes - Just like in human beings, excess weight gain and obesity are intertwined.
- Arthritis - When it is obese; the legs have to bear the excess weight. This may highly affect the joints. It may, therefore, experience severe pain when jumping or even walking.
- Respiratory problems - Excess fat may be deposited in the lungs, thus developing breathing problems.
- Liver Disease - This is also known as fatty liver. Even when it loses weight, the liver remains fatty. This may come along with numerous health complications. This is a common problem in really fat cats tending to lose weight.
Treatment and management of obesity in cats
Just like weight gain is a process, weight loss should be gradual too. Rapid weight loss is dangerous and life-threatening. In fact, rapid weight loss in cats can lead to hepatic lipidosis. This is a critical disease resulting from fats deposited in the liver.
If you aren’t sure how you can embark on a weight loss program for your pet, just consult a veterinary. A veterinary will tell you that a perfect weight loss program entails three aspects; proper dieting, exercising and prevention.
Dieting in losing obesity
Dieting is the most reliable method of fighting obesity. However, this dieting should be gradual, as earlier noted. It should also be planned and systematic.
Below is a dieting strategy that you can gradually implement:
- Don’t change the diet but change the amount. This, therefore, means that you feed it with the same type of food but in smaller quantities.
- Change the intervals. If you used to feed it 3 times in a day, you can feed it some food once. In the course of the day, you can introduce other light foods.
- Change the food. In this case, don’t change the amount fed but change the food type. In this regard, go for low-calorie food. However, shifting should be gradual. A rapid change in the type of food eaten may cause stomach upsets to your pet.
Like earlier noted, you should involve a vet when designing a dieting plan. Vets are very resourceful, especially on best dry or wet cat food for weight loss.
Is it possible to make your feline more physically active? The answer is yes. According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, cat exercises are essential when losing weight. [vet.cornell.edu]
Some of the exercises you can undertake include:
- Make it climb trees around your house or buy one like the Pet Club 62-Inch Cat Tree.
- You can chase it around the house
- Make it climb to the ceiling of your house
- Take it to other pets where they can play together but ensure there is no aggression.
- Be the best friend to your cat and always play around the house, even on the couch.
Fighting obesity in cats can be time-consuming, tedious and at times unsuccessful. Why can’t you just prevent obesity? From the word go, always feed it with low-fat cat food. Furthermore, always make sure that it is active, indoor and outdoor.
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