Is your cat fat? Has your furry friend been feasting on a few too many tasty treats? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you’re not alone.
Obesity is a huge problem among Australian cats — after all, how can you resist spoiling your beautiful kitty? —and it’s much more serious than many cat owners realise. Obesity can lead to a wide range of health complications in cats, so it’s up to every responsible pet owner to make sure their cat stays at a healthy weight.
Here’s what you need to know to keep your cat in tip-top shape.
What’s so bad about cat obesity?
The real issue with overweight and obese cats is not how they look in the mirror, but about the many health issues associated with carrying a few extra kilos. Some of them might not seem like all that much to worry about, such as a shortness of breath when exercising, but others are far more serious. Diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease are all severe health issues that can develop, and if no action is taken then early death is a real risk.
Then there’s also the fact that carrying around extra weight grows increasingly difficult for cats as they age. If your cat suffers from arthritis, the extra pressure put on their bones and joints thanks to their increased weight can cause significant pain and discomfort.
What are the signs of an obese cat?
Not sure if your cat is overweight or not? Keep an eye out for these telltale signs your kitty is bigger than he should be:
- You can’t feel his ribs easily
- You can’t see a waistline after his ribs, looking either from the side or from above
- You need to loosen his collar
- He has a sagging abdomen
- He is slow to move or has difficulty walking
- He is lethargic and sleeping more than usual
There are also handy cat body condition charts available online that can help you determine if your cat is overweight. If your feline is showing signs of being too fat, it’s time to take action.
How to help my cat lose weight
- Talk to your vet. Before you start your pet on any sort of weight-loss regime, take him in to see your vet for a check up. Although it’s quite rare, there could be some sort of underlying health issue causing your cat’s weight gain, so this will need to be ruled out first. Once you’re sure those extra kilos are the result of over-eating and under-exercising, you can join forces with your vet to create a safe and realistic weight-loss plan for your portly pet.
- Get more exercise. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that you can help your pet lose weight by giving him more exercise — and it’s actually quite simple to increase your cat’s physical activity levels. The key is to focus on environmental enrichment and fun play ideas. Use climbing frames to encourage him to go exploring, move his food bowl to different locations and heights to get him moving, and encourage him to chase his favourite toys around the house. Even giving him his dry dinner in an interactive, food-dispensing toy and making him work for his supper can help your cat lose weight.
- Feed the right food. The old adage that you are what you eat holds just as true for our cats as it does for us. The right diet is obviously essential for an overweight cat, so feeding the wrong cat food or a poor-quality cat food could be contributing to your cat’s advanced weight. Your vet can advise you on an appropriate diet to feed your cat, and can even put you onto a special prescription weight-loss pet food if required.
- Control treats and portion sizes. It can often be very difficult not to give into temptation and spoil your furry friend rotten — when you consider all the wonderful benefits they bring to your life, surely it’s the least you can do to ensure that they’re always very well fed, right? Wrong. If you want to repay your cat for all the love and companionship he gives you, the best thing you can do is keep him happy and healthy. Be careful not to over-feed and make sure to only give your cat occasional treats — this will ensure that he lives a happy and healthy life.