What to Do About an Overweight Cat

Obesity isn’t a problem that can just affect the human members of your family. Unfortunately, incorrect diets and insufficient exercise are just some of the reasons that an alarming number of household pets are now considered overweight and obese – including cats. In fact, according to the findings from the latest research by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), as many as 58% of felines in the U.S. are overweight, and 28% are considered obese¹.

Health risks

Unfortunately, being overweight puts your pet at risk of developing a range of health problems and side effects, some of which can be extremely serious. Some of the most common health risks associated with feline weight problems include:

- Stress on the joints, tendons and ligaments which can cause your cat to develop arthritis.

- Diabetes.

- High blood pressure.

- Accumulation of fatty deposits around the major organs, restricting them. For example, excess fat around the lungs can limit how far they expand and can make breathing difficult.

- Feline lower urinary tract disease.

- Skin disorders.

- Some cancers.

- Decreased immunity against disease.

- Higher risk of surgical complications.

- Short life span.

If you want your kitty to live a long and active life with your family, you will not only need to take steps to reduce her weight, but also help her maintain a healthy one.

Helping your cat to lose weight

Food and eating habits

Most overweight cats are not only fed the wrong type of food – primarily dry kibble – but are also ‘free-fed’. This means that their portion sizes aren’t controlled, and instead they are allowed to eat as and when they want to. These habits are almost certainly going to lead to your cat continuing to put on weight. Therefore, the first and most important thing that you can do to help your furbaby lose weight and then maintain it is to ensure that you feed her a portion-controlled, balanced diet of the right type of food for her age and breed. Cats are carnivores, and so their diet should contain as much moisture-rich meat as possible.

In addition, here are some handy hints for helping your pet lose those extra pounds.

- Measure out your cat’s daily portion and divide it four to six small meals, rather than two or three bigger ones. These will allow your cat to eat when she wants to, without enabling her to overeat.

- Keep her hydrated. Ensure you have at least two water bowls and keep them topped up with fresh water throughout the day. Often animals will eat when they are actually thirsty. Hydration is also important for keeping her digestive system working efficiently.

- Avoid or severely restrict the amount of treats you are giving her.

Exercise and activity

Physical exercise is also important for your cat to maintain a healthy weight and you should ensure that you have at least a few things that she is allowed climb on, such as a kitty tower or tree. Nevertheless, most cats do need some encouragement to be active and so playing games with your furbaby is a great way of exercising her body. It is also just as important that you stretch her mind, as mental stimulation can help to prevent your pet eating out of boredom.

Some of the simplest games you can play with your feline include encouraging her to chase a toy across the floor or getting her to follow a laser pointer. Unfortunately, most cats have a very short attention span, so you should not expect to play one game for more than a few minutes. However, by fitting a few short games into your daily routine, your pet can achieve the exercise she needs to remain healthy.

If you are concerned about your cat’s weight, your first priority should be to arrange an appointment with our veterinarian. Our vet will be able to advise you how much your kitty is overweight by, and what adjustments should be made to her portion sizes to help her lose the excess pounds. Our vet will also be able to perform a thorough check of your pet to ensure that there are no underlying health problems as a result of the excess weight that need to be taken in to consideration. Contact us today for further advice.

¹Source: Becker, Karen (2016-02-15). Article title [9 Out of 10 Pet Owners Don't Realize This About Their Pet].
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