Worried You Have Overweight Cats?
Is your cat starting to look a little bit porky, are you worried your cat is overweight?
Have those extra teatime treats started to tell on your cat?
Or could it be that your cat is actually the right weight for his size and breed?
We all like to treat our beloved pets from time to time, but as a nation of animal lovers our cats are getting fatter! Could it be that all this extra love is starting to have a detrimental effect on the health and well-being of our cats?
Even if your cat is just starting to get a little chunky round the edges, you can take action now to prevent your cat getting too overweight.
So let me show you how to spot your cat is overweight and what positive steps can you take to help your cat lose some weight.
What is Causing the Increase in Overweight Cats?
It is a fact that overweight cats now outnumber cats of an ideal body condition and veterinarians are seeing more and more overweight cats at their surgeries. But what is the reason behind this?
Simply put too much food and not enough exercise! As with any species; when calorie intake far exceeds calorie needs the excess food is stored as fat.
If you look at the cat from nature’s perspective he is a well-equipped hunter. He spends many hours finding, stalking and chasing his prey. Once caught, the prey may take considerable effort for the cat to kill and then eat. All of this exertion is hard work and costs the cat energy. He may eat more than he actually needs because he can never be sure where his next meal is coming from.
Fast forward to today’s domestic cat and ask yourself: How much energy does my cat exert in order to get his next meal? And the answer is ‘Very little’. Combined with the rise in cats kept as indoor pets, perhaps to protect them from getting hit by cars, it is little wonder that our cats are leading far more sedentary lives than their ancestors.
Some owners find it hard to believe that the amount they are feeding their cat is too much and many even supplement their already too high in calorie diet with snacks and treats. For those of you who ever watched Disney’s Shrek films, even Puss-In-Boots was not immune to a little overindulgence! We don’t like to think that it could possibly be our fault our cats are fat, but in reality we are to blame.
Here's Why Our Cats Are Overweight
We feed our cats too much in comparison to the amount of energy they use.
How do I Know if my Cat is Overweight?
It is quite easy to tell if your cat is overweight, by looking at the shape of your pet. A cat at his ideal weight should have no fat hanging down from his belly and should have a defined waist when you look at him from the top. Although you should not be able to see his spine or his rib cage, you should be able to feel them quite easily.
An overweight cat, however, will look more rounded when you look at him from the top and will have little or no discernable waistline. When you look at your cat from the side, his belly will look rounded and fat may even visibly hang down from his belly. You will not be able to feel your cat’s spine or ribcage very easily, if at all, because of the excess layers of fat.
What Can I do to Help my Overweight Cat?
If you suspect that your cat is overweight then there are a few simple steps you can take to help get your cat’s weight back on track!
It is so easy to just fill up a bowl of biscuits every time you notice that it is empty. Instead, consult your cat food manufacturer’s daily recommended allowance of food for a cat that is the same weight and body condition as yours and weigh it out on the scales. I know the first time I did this I had a complete shock! I could not believe how little my cat actually needed to eat compared to the amount I was putting out on a daily basis!
Split this amount into two or three small meals a day and stay strong! Do not give in when your cat cries pitifully and makes you feel as though he is absolutely about to starve.
- Learn how much your cat actually needs to eat and stop your cat from being overweight.
- Save money on food and cat litter. Less food consumed equals less use of the litter tray.
Exercise Your Cat
If your cat has taken to filling his day with sleeping, lounging about, sunbathing and having yet another nap then give him something to do! Even if your cat lives exclusively indoors you can encourage him to get moving.
Try spending half an hour a day playing with your cat. You can throw his toys, or rolled up balls of foil, across the lounge for him to chase. Even if your little darling looks at you as if to say ‘You threw it so you can go and get it’, do not be put off!
Try sliding a feather tickler near to his paws and encourage him to bat for it. It may take several days or even weeks before he can muster up the energy to actually chase it but deep down your cat is a hunter; you just need to remind him of that!
- Encourage your cat to exercise and keep the extra weight off him and keep him at a healthy weight.
- Time spent with your cat is never wasted, use the time to bond with your cat.
Make Your Cat Work For Their Food
Instead of putting your cat’s food conveniently in front of his face so that he barely has to walk more than a couple of feet to get it, try hiding his food so that he has to look for it.
Okay, so your sedentary cat may not like this idea, but he is equipped with a very powerful nose and should be able find his food when he is hungry enough.
You could also try feeding your cat with a puzzle feeder, a sort of ball with holes in that dry cat food falls out of when your cat pushes the ball around.
- A more physically a mentally active cat will make for a happier healthier cat.
- Turning meal times into fun time is fun for both you and your cat.
Visit The Vets
If you suspect that your cat is overweight and genuinely feel that he is not being overfed then you should see your vet as soon as possible. Your vet will weigh your cat and give you advice on how he can shed the extra weight.
He will also do blood tests to check that your cat doesn’t have any underlying medical conditions causing his obesity, such as a thyroid problem. Your vet can also prescribe your cat a low calorie food to assist in his weight loss programme.
- If your cat does have a medical issue the sooner he gets treatment the better.
- Remove the worry and give yourself peace of mind.
What Health Problems Could my Cat Suffer From by Being Overweight?
It probably comes as no surprise that overweight cats can suffer from a variety of weight related health problems. These include:
Health Problems Checklist
- Heart Disease
- Skin problems
- Difficulty breathing
Commonly Asked Questions
Click the questions to reveal the answers...
Will being very overweight shorten my cat’s lifespan?
Yes definitely. Due to the increased risk of health problems your overweight cat could have a shorter lifespan. The good news is that it is never too late to help your cat lose weight. By following our tips your cat could shed excess weight and be happier, healthier and more likely to live longer as a result.
How can I get my cat to do some exercise?
Getting a lazy cat to do exercise is never easy, but by starting off slowly your sleepy cat might find she actually enjoys exercise! Start off by slowly running a piece of string or ribbon over her front paws. The majority of cats will not be able to resist having a bat, even if they pretend it is just because you are annoying them! Gradually build up the exercise until she has to actually move to swat at the ribbon. If you keep this up, and start her on a calorie controlled diet, your cat will lose weight and start to enjoy exercise more.
My cat has lost a lot of weight through careful feeding and exercise. Can I start giving her treats again?
Well done for helping your cat to lose weight! Helping your cat lose weight does not mean that she can never have treats again. But instead of going back to commercial cat treats which can be fattening and often have very little nutritional value, try giving your cat fresh chicken or fish instead. Keep treats occasional, and always remove any skin or fat. Losing weight is hard work, putting it back on again is easy!
This diet food I got from the vets looks so boring and my cat refuses to eat it. Now I am worried that he will starve! What can I do?
Your cat is on a calorie controlled diet because he is overweight. The chances that he is going to starve imminently are slim to none! Your cat will eat the new food when he is hungry. However, as with any new food, it is important that you mix some of the food he is used to with the new food to get his digestive system used to the change. Gradually build up the amount of the new food you add to his old food until he is exclusively eating the calorie controlled diet.