One of the most common disorders in house cats today is cat obesity. It is usually the result of overfeeding and lack of stimulation which is most likely caused by the owner themselves.
Most cat owners simply put the food in the cat’s dish and let the cat indulge as they want throughout the day. Add this in with the lack of playful stimulation or social interaction and you have yourself a heavy cat.
Weight gain in your feline companion usually occurs when its caloric intake exceeds its energy output. A good example of this is when your cat eats 600 calories worth of food each day but only burns 400 calories in a day. The calories that are not burned off essentially turn into fat. This is basically the same science behind humans, dogs, and other mammals.
So how can you tell if your cat is starting to become obese? And if your cat is overweight, what can you do to solve this problem?
How To Determine Your Cat’s Weight
The first thing you’ll want to do is determine whether or not your cat is overweight and by how much. If you cannot easily feel your cat’s rib cage, chances are pretty good that your cat may be overweight.
If a cat is more than 20% over its ideal weight, it is generally considered obese. The average cat weighs from about 5 to 15 pounds depending on its overall body frame. The type of breed your cat is will also be a determining factor in its ideal body weight.
Some breeds are larger than others, so obviously they will be heavier and larger because of DNA.
The best thing to do is to simply ask your veterinarian what your cat’s ideal weight should be. Then what you will do is weigh your cat on a regular basis so that you can be aware of any weight issues your cat might be having.
To weigh your cat, simply step on a bathroom scale and weigh yourself first. Then step off the scale, pick up your cat, and reweigh yourself.
Subtract the first reading from the second and alas, you now know what your cat weighs. This is a pretty simple thing to do, but it will help out a lot in determining where cat is in regards to being overweight.
Medical Conditions of an Overweight Cat
Being overweight is very hard on your cat. It puts a lot of stress on its internal organs, muscles, and joints. The result is usually an unhealthy looking and deeply lethargic cat that has absolutely no energy.
If your cat becomes too obese, it will have a very hard time playing with their toys or doing the infamous cat acrobatics that they are known for. Morbidly obese cats also have a higher chance to die a lot younger than its healthy counterpart.
However, there are some instances that your cat’s obesity is because of an underlying medical condition. Some cats suffer from hypothyroidism. This disease can cause a slower metabolism in your cat, thus resulting in higher than average weight gain.
To find out if your cat has an underlying medical issue that is causing an increase in weight, consult with your veterinarian. They can run a blood test to diagnose hypothyroidism. If your cat tests positive, the vet can then treat the condition with the proper medication.
How To Put Your Cat on a Diet
Before putting your cat on a diet, have a veterinarian rule out any medical conditions that may be causing their weight gain. The key here is to make changes to your cat’s diet slowly. Never put your cat on a crash diet.
Your cat’s liver will not be able to handle any sudden changes in their diet. The reason for this is because cats have a rather unique metabolic response to fasting which their liver will not be able to respond adequately to.
If you are switching up the type of food your cat eats, do so gradually. You can do this by mixing more and more of the new type of food in with the old food each day.
While you are changing your cat’s diet, it is equally important to increase your cat’s activity level as well. This is really simple. Just play with your cat more.
Make sure that you are weighing your cat at regular intervals so you can keep track of any progress that’s being made. You may need to make some small adjustments along the way in regards to your cat’s food intake.
As always, never expose your cat to any type of diet without first consulting with your veterinarian.
How To Prevent Obesity In Your Cat
It is obviously a lot easier to prevent obesity in your cat from happening in the first place than it is to have your cat go on a diet.
Most cats do not have an off switch when it comes to eating. Because of this, they may just keep on eating regardless if they are full or not.
The first thing you can do to prevent obesity in your cat is to start feeding it at regularly scheduled intervals instead of just leaving the food dish out.
If you feed your cat measured amounts of food at specific times, you will have more control over your cat’s calorie intake.
If you have adopted a stray cat, chances are good that they used to have to fight for their food in the outside world. And they probably went a few days without eating anything. Because of this, they are more prone to overeating.
Another way to prevent obesity is to limit the amount of treats you give to your feline friend. If you give your cat an overabundance of treats throughout the day, they will put more weight on. It may seem slow at first, but trust me, it does add up.
While it is true that cat treats can be used as a very useful bribe to get your cat to do things, it should obviously be done in moderation.
Also, never give your cat food that is meant only for human consumption. This is a surefire way to increase the likelihood that your cat will become obese much easier and faster.
How To Keep Your Cat Active
This may surprise you, but our feline companions need exercise just as much as we humans do. Keeping your cat active will help it to burn more calories, thus keeping it trim and in overall better shape.
Some cat breeds are naturally more active than others such as Siamese breeds. And some cat breeds are at the extreme opposite of this spectrum like Persian or Himalayan breeds.
The most obvious thing you can do is to give your cat plenty of toys to play with. Choose toys that stimulate their senses and get them excited.
For example, my cats get super excited over their laser light. They love chasing the little red dot so much that all they have to hear is the clicking sound and this alone will set them off.
Another type of toy that most cats absolutely love is the crinkle tunnel. The tunnel makes a paper type of sound, thus the name “crinkle”.
Another way to keep your cat more active is to adopt another cat so your current feline companion has someone to play with. Cats absolutely love playing with each other, not to mention they will be able to keep each other company.
Be sure that you are introducing the two cats in the proper way or else your home will be super stressful for awhile. Don’t know how to introduce two cats to each other? No worries. Check out this article on how to do just that.
Adopting another cat will also prevent feline loneliness. I’ve written an entire article on this subject here for you to check out.
Hopefully this article has shed some light on the reasons your cat might be obese and also how to overcome feline obesity.
With a combination of the right diet and keeping your cat active, you should be able to keep your cat from having serious health issues caused by obesity.