Ever wonder what to do about your overweight cat? Overweight and actually obese cats outnumber cats of normal weight and are being seen more and more commonly by veterinarians for various disorders. In fact, obesity in cats can predispose the cat to diabetes, hepatic lipidosis and arthritis.
However, putting a cat on a diet or weight loss plan needs to be approached very carefully. Here we will try and assist you with your overweight cats so that your kitty won't have to be encumbered by obesity.
A 2011 study by APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention) found that over 50 percent of cats were either obese or overweight. So what is happening that predisposes our domestic felines to a life of sedentary obesity?
The answer is multifactorial but to simplify, just remember this: any individual mammal (dog, cat, horse, human, etc.) will gain body weight if it consumes more calories than it burns as fuel for energy. That’s pretty simple, but true.
In nature, food acquisition has never been a sure thing for any creature -- not for canines, felines or humans. So food acquisition has always been accompanied by physical exertion to capture (or cultivate) and consume the food.
It is only in recent times that the unnatural situation of food excess, readily acquired and consumed with little accompanying physical exertion, has become a way of life. We humans have figured how not to have to do all that work of capturing and cultivating to build up stores of food.
Through agricultural expertise we have learned how to grow food and raise livestock and to have those food sources readily available and in abundance … just in case we get hungry! We learned how to refrigerate, dry, preserve and store foods in large quantities that assured us we would not have to endure long and unsuccessful hunting forays nor suffer through famines.
We have also created the very same food acquisition assurances for our domestic dogs and cats. They, as we, no longer have to hunt to survive. Indeed, we no longer even have to live outdoors.
It’s interesting that our pets have mirrored our own tendency to have trouble with weight control. The major difference, though, is that we humans have complete control over what our pets eat and how much they eat. Unless your cat is sneaking into the fridge and making ham and cheese sandwiches late at night when no one is around, the only way they get to eat is when YOU place the food in front of them.
Every veterinarian has repeatedly heard a serious-minded cat (or dog) owner state "I know you think she’s overweight, Doctor, but it isn’t from the food! She hardly eats a thing."
Well, is the pet overweight from high calorie air? Maybe it’s the water … or from laying on that couch all the time. That’s it! The couch is making the kitty fat, not the food.
Seriously, far too many pet owners truly believe that food intake has nothing at all to do with their pet’s weight and no amount of counseling will convince them otherwise. If that describes your position, read no further because the rest of this article is all about how to feed the proper food and in the correct quantity so that the cat will lose weight safely or maintain an optimum weight. There will be nothing in this article about the effect of high calorie air, water or comfortable furniture on the cat’s weight problem.
Any cat that is overweight should have a physical exam performed, exact weight measured and blood and urine tests run. It is vital that normal thyroid hormone levels are present and that the cat has no physical or metabolic dysfunction.
If the cat is physically normal -- other than the abnormal body weight from fat deposition -- then a gradual and careful weight loss program can be instituted.
First, let’s look at what the causes of obesity are and what we can do to correct OUR mistakes …