Obesity isn’t an issue limited only to people. Over eating and inactive lifestyles are severely affecting the health of our pets as well and obesity is a common nutritional disorder in cats today. Obesity places additional stresses upon a cat’s body and can predispose them to more serious medical conditions including diabetes, arthritis, and hepatic lipidosis (liver disease).
In 2011 a study carried out by APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention) revealed the startling fact that more than 50% of cats were overweight or obese. This is a massive increase in cases compared to just 4 years before, when only around 20% of cats were found to be obese.
By understanding how weight problems for cats can occur, you can take the necessary actions to treat or better yet prevent them from ever becoming an issue.
What causes feline obesity?
Any mammal that takes in more calories than it burns off for energy will of course start to gain weight. The reason for the increasing number of cats with weight problems is quite simple; too much food available at any time. This is very unnatural for animals that would in nature have to hunt for their food. In the wild, cats expend lots of energy hunting their prey, this natural balance is completely turned on its head when an animal is domesticated.
Spaying or neutering your cat can have an effect on the weight of your feline friend. A neutered cat is more likely to gain extra body weight, but by keeping tabs on their calorie intake this can be controlled.
Is my cat fat?
Correctly identifying any weight issue is essential. Your local vet should regularly assess the weight of your cat as part of its health care routine, you can also get an indication of this yourself by following the guidelines below.
Run your hand around the cat’s flanks and abdomen. Ideally you should be able to easily feel the ribs, but not see them.
When the waistline is hard to see and you can sense some fat under the tummy, your cat is most likely slightly overweight. If there is no waistline to speak of and there is a heavy covering of fat around the tummy, then your cat is obese.
Next week we’ll look at how we can take control of our cat’s weight and improve their overall health by monitoring and adjusting their diet and exercise levels.
Image: Dan Perry via Flickr