Feline obesity is a serious problem which is on the increase. Sadly it is the most common nutritional disorder seen in cats and a leading cause of premature death. Approximately 40% of cats in the USA are obese.
A cat is considered to be obese if its weight is around 20% over the ideal weight. Cats come in a variety of shapes and sizes and it is not possible to provide a general weight for cats. A Singapura may weigh only 4kg, while a Maine Coon can weigh up to 11kg. To determine if your cat is underweight, average weight or overweight run your fingers along the cat’s ribs, if the ribs can be felt easily, your cat is underweight. You should be able to feel the ribs, but they should not be prominent. If you can not feel the ribs at all, your cat is overweight.
Obesity in cats leads to a number of serious and health conditions in cats.
Weight reduction in cats:
Weight loss is something which requires close veterinary supervision. If it is done too quickly it can lead to hepatic lipidosis, which is life-threatening. Therefore NEVER attempt a weight reduction diet on your own.
Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your cat. He/she will also want to run blood tests to rule out a medical cause of obesity such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) and evaluate the overall health of your cat.
- Increase exercise: There are plenty of interactive toys on the market which will encourage your cat to exercise. You should spend 30 minutes a day playing with/exercising your cat.
- Decrease caloric intake: There are prescription diets on the market specifically for cats, your veterinarian will be able to recommend the right diet for your cat. As stated above, it is now well known that many dry foods contain excessive quantities of carbohydrates which can lead to obesity. So switching to either canned or raw food should be discussed with your veterinarian. Weight loss needs to occur gradually to avoid hepatic lipidosis.
- No treats: It’s easy to slip the odd treat to your cat, but this needs to be stopped completely.
- Feed 4-6 small meals per day instead of filling the bowl and leaving it down for your cat to graze on.
- If the cause is medical and not diet related, treating the condition should hopefully resolve the obesity.