Obesity is a condition caused by excess body fat. Cats usually get it from too much food intake and minimal to no exercise. Obesity poses many health risks to our beloved feline and it could lead to a shorter lifespan.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity is commonly caused by the imbalance of food consumption and exercise as well as a number of other factors. Let’s delve into the following:
- Overfeeding – the most common cause of obesity
- Old age
- Hypothyroidism – a health condition caused by the lack of thyroid hormones in the feline’s bloodstream
- Hyperadrenocorticism – a disease resulting from the overproduction of cortisol, a hormone from the adrenal glands
- Insulinoma – a rare tumour, which occurs in the cat’s pancreas
Symptoms of Obesity
Any cat can get obese regardless of its breed. The initial action to be taken when dealing with a possible obese cat is to recognise the problem. Is the cat obese or overweight? Veterinarians can perform an assessment and will provide an estimated ideal body weight as a target. Then a body condition scoring system will be implemented: 1–5 (3 is normal) or 1–9 (4.5 is normal). Besides that, there are also ways you can do to find out if your cat is obese. Here is how:
- Ribcage coverage is the most common and easy one. If you can see your cat’s rib cage sticking out, it is a sign that your cat is malnourished. If you hold your cat’s torso and can feel her ribs, this indicates that your cat is at her normal weight. However, if you do the same and cannot feel her ribs, then your cat is overweight.
- Another way to know is by standing over your cat. If you see a small indentation above the hips resembling a waist, this means your cat has a normal weight. But if there is no visible waistline, then she is overweight or obese.
- If your cat’s belly is incredibly close to the floor when she stands, your cat is obese.
- A cat’s snore is a sign of obesity.
- If the back area of your cat is not clean, that might be a sign of obesity, meaning, your cat cannot reach her behind when grooming.
Obese Cat Risks/Common Diseases
Compelling data about excess weight on dogs show that obesity affects life expectancy. A study about an entire life of a Labrador that was moderately overweight proved that dogs live about two years less than the healthier, leaner ones. It is presumed that the same results apply to overweight or obese cats. Obesity and being overweight affect a cat’s health negatively; here are some of the risks:
- Heart disease
- Urinary bladder stones
- Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease)
- Anaesthetic complications – adverse effects caused by anaesthesia
- Cancers of all types
Other possible complications of obesity include reduced immune system activity and skin problems.
It is essential to consult a veterinarian before altering the cat’s diet and exercise, especially cats who have pre-existing illnesses. It will help in designing a proper and specific weight loss plan for your cat. Crash diets are not encouraged for it will cause harm to your cat. Gradual change is the key to safely help your cat lose weight. It is ideal for your cat to lose about one pound per month when on a weight loss programme. Here are some vet-recommended weight loss methods:
- Increase her usual playtime activities by ten minutes. You must do this two to three times a day. First in the morning, second during the afternoon, and one at night.
- Lowering the intake of calories is one of the most effective ways to help your cat lose weight.
- Feeding your cat the same amount of food in smaller portions during meals would help burn calories faster.
- Avoid giving her treats because they have high sugar and carbohydrates content.
- Slowly switching your cat’s food into one with lower calories would also work. However, it’s best to do it gradually to avoid upsetting the cat’s stomach.
Cats are also encouraged to have more physical activities. Insufficient exercise is one of the main causes of obesity after all. Scheduling a regular playtime would definitely help your cat. Here are some suggested fat-burning activities:
- Playtime with other pets
- Tree climbing
- Food puzzles
- Scratching on pads or posts
- Letting your cat chase toys on a stick or laser pointers
- Training your cat to run across the house or climb a cat tree
The best solution to deal with obesity is prevention. Consulting a veterinarian to evaluate your cat’s body condition score and practising the weight loss advice above will be of great help to keep your cat in shape. If your cat is slowly getting back in shape, remember to follow these quick tips and reminders to maintain her weight:
- Be consistent in the amount of food you feed her and strictly stick to the feeding schedule.
- Remember to record and monitor your cat’s weight and always make her undergo weight checks during vet visits.
- Never give in to your cat’s craving, which is usually expressed by excessive meowing for food. If you do, you are not only destroying her diet plan but also encouraging her negative behaviour.
Lastly, the key to a successful weight loss plan for your feline friend is through regular consultations with the vet. They will be able to provide you with helpful advice on how to improve your efforts in aiding your cat to lose weight.
Help your obese cat achieve a healthier, longer life.
Know more about preventive measures to avoid different cat health concerns here!