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Obesity in cats – Chunky or fluffy?

white and tabby cat that is overweight, standing with large belly sagging down

Hey there, fellow cat lovers! Today, we’re going to tackle an important topic that affects our adorable feline friends – obesity in cats. Obesity is a real disease in cats, and with many of them leading indoor lives, they’ve become more sedentary. Just like in humans, excess calories consumed compared to energy expended lead to weight gain. Though those chubby kitties may look cuddly and cute, obesity can bring a host of health problems. The good news is, we can help our lovable felines fight this condition – it’s treatable and preventable!

Spotting Obesity in cats:

birman cat getting examined by vet on vet's table

The first step in caring for your cat is to figure out if they’re overweight and by how much. Veterinarians use a body condition scoring system, which involves assessing your cat’s silhouette, size, and location of fat stores. This system helps determine an ideal weight for each cat, setting a reference point for weight loss goals and progress. Typically, a cat is considered overweight if they weigh 10-20% more than their ideal weight (which varies for each individual), and obese if that number goes over 20%!

Body condition score chart

Let’s Check the Chart: As you can see in the chart, an ideal body condition score (BCS) for a cat is 4-5/9. Anything above 5 is overweight, while anything below 4 is underweight.

Helping Your Cat Shed Pounds:

tortie cat waiting for food from automatic cat feeding dispenser

So, how do we help our feline friends lose weight? First, we need to determine their ideal body weight based on their BCS. The rule of thumb is that each point increase or decrease from the ideal BCS (4-5) equals about 10-15% of their body weight. For instance, if your cat’s BCS is 6, they need to lose 10-15% of their body weight. We want to aim for a weight loss rate of 0.5-1.5% of their body weight per week to avoid losing too much weight too quickly.

Next, let’s take a look at what your cat is eating and how much. Cutting out treats and “human food” can be a simple yet effective step towards weight loss. Your vet might recommend a therapeutic weight loss diet, specially formulated to decrease calories while providing essential nutrients to keep your cat feeling full. Remember, these prescription diets should be recommended by your treating vet.

Don’t Forget Exercise!

Exercise is essential for your kitty’s well-being, even if they live indoors. Interactive and enrichment toys, as well as food mazes, can provide both physical and mental stimulation. Aim for at least two 10-minute play sessions each day – it’s not only beneficial for their health but also a fantastic bonding time for you and your cat!

Why Does Cat Weight Matter?

Obesity in cats can lead to various secondary health issues like diabetes, arthritis, kidney and heart disease, and infections, ultimately affecting their lifespan. The extra weight stresses their joints, causing pain and joint degeneration. Like in humans, extra body fat can lead to insulin resistance, complicating diabetes management. Additionally, obesity can increase surgical risks due to inaccurate drug dosing, restricted breathing, and limited internal visibility.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight:

Once your cat achieves their ideal weight, you’ll want to keep them on track. Regularly measure their progress by weighing them every few weeks. If there’s no weight loss, the plan might need further adjustments.

Together, let’s help our fluffy friends lead happy and healthy lives by preventing and treating obesity. A little effort goes a long way in ensuring our cats have the purrfect life!

Tips

  • Water, water, water: Always make sure fresh water is available for your cat. Staying hydrated is crucial for their overall health and can help control appetite.
  • Make playtime a priority: Engage in regular play sessions with your cat to keep them active and entertained. Rotate toys to keep things interesting, and don’t forget to reward them with affection and praise.
  • Create a stimulating environment: Enrich your cat’s indoor space with scratching posts, climbing towers, and cozy hideaways. A happy and active environment can discourage overeating due to boredom.
  • Monitor changes in behavior: Keep an eye on your cat’s behavior and energy levels. Sudden changes could be a sign of health issues, and early detection can make a big difference.
  • Regular vet check-ups: Schedule regular visits to the vet for check-ups and preventive care. Your veterinarian can offer personalized advice for your cat’s specific needs.
  • Practice portion control: It’s essential to stick to the appropriate portion sizes for meals and treats. A little treat here and there is fine, but moderation is key.
  • Be patient and consistent: Weight loss and maintenance take time and commitment. Stay consistent with your cat’s feeding and exercise routines, and be patient with their progress.
  • Involve the whole family: If you have multiple family members caring for your cat, ensure everyone is on the same page with their diet and exercise plan.