A Healthy Kitty Starts Around the Waist

Over Weight and Obesity Concerns

A shocking statistic all of us who love cats should be aware of is that almost 60 percent of kitties in the U.S. are overweight or obese. It’s a sad fact that the problem is caused by cat guardians through simple over-indulgence. This includes feeding biologically inappropriate food and too much of it, feeding too many unhealthy treats, and rarely or never encouraging Fluffy to get physically active. The problem for us is we like to spoil our cats, and the cats like to eat, so it’s easy to overfeed.

Why does this occur?

Poorly managed diet and a sedentary lifestyle are the most common contributing factors behind a prevalent health problem among cats—obesity. The natural instinct of your cat is to eat a small amount of food followed by a fast, followed by another small amount of food and another fasting period. Kitties provided with a constant supply of available food turn into grazers. This is contrary to nature, and grazing cats very often consume too many calories from uncontrolled portion sizes.

Health Concerns

Obesity-related health problems abound. These include but are not limited to heart disease, a reduced life span, ruptured cruciate ligaments, labored or difficult breathing, fatigue/exercise intolerance, greater risk for heat stroke/heat exhaustion, greater susceptibility to fatty liver disease, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. When cats are at an ideal body weight, on average, they live longer lives. Not only that, but they tend to feel better too.

Only a Few Pounds

An obese cat is defined as one who weighs more than 20% above their ideal body weight. This does not sound like much to humans considering that 20% means 2 to 5 extra pounds on your felines belly.

Here’s what a few extra pounds on a cat would equate to in a human:

  • Two pounds is similar to 28 pounds on a 140-pound woman
  • Three pounds is similar to 42 pounds on a 140-pound woman
  • Five pounds is similar to 70 pounds on a 140-pound woman
  • Eight pounds is similar to 112 pounds on a 140-pound woman

An at Home Fix

Having food available 24/7 is NOT a good idea for any cat, and if your cat has constant access to that food, you'll have a very hard time getting them weaned onto a healthier weight. Here are a few at home ways to get you and your kitty on the right path

  • Offer two or three meals a day of a very small amount of dry food (perhaps 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup) and, after 30 minutes, take up the food they hasn't eaten. Then do not give in if he or she pleads for a between-meal snack. You want your cat to get accustomed to eating on a schedule this way--at mealtimes. Feeding two portion-controlled meals a day, works well for most cats and also fits easily into the daily schedule for most families. If you’re home during the day, you can feed several small meals instead. Also, cats that are fed more often are more active.

  • In multiple cat households, often one cat steals food from the other cats. This makes it difficult for you to regulate what your cat eats. Different strategies can be used such as controlled meal feeding in separate areas, or putting food where only one cat can access it. There are even devices you can buy that only allow a specific amount of food at time intervals to be available. Discuss the specifics of your situation during your veterinary visit to come up with creative solutions for your home.

Discuss the specifics of your situation during your veterinary visit to come up with creative solutions for your home.

Doctor to the Rescue

Annual veterinary visits including labwork is crucial for your pets health and are great for the owners due to the information your pets veterinarian can supply you. Ask your veterinarian "is my pet over weight?" "should I improve my pets diet?" Here are a few bits of information you can offer your veterinarian to improve your involvement with your kitties weight health.

  • Discuss the type/brand and amount of food your cat is eating.

  • Tell your veterinarian about treats your cat receives. Don’t forget those little crumbs from your dinner plate counts, too.

There are many different types of foods that can create a healthier diet for your cat, including special prescription diets.  You and your veterinarian can discuss and figure out which works best for you both.

 

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