Are my cats too fat? You could be wondering if after observing your pet, Puffy, is starting to look a little, well, fluffy. Cats frequently experience weight gain, especially as they age and their metabolism slows. In fact, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, approximately 60% of cats in the US are overweight. Recognizing when your cat is getting fat will help you take action to lessen the impact on her health, as being overweight can both cause and exacerbate health issues in cats. To find out how to determine whether your cat is overweight, keep reading.
Is my cat overweight?
You may check your cat’s weight by feeling along her ribcage. According to the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, the padding on a healthy cat shouldn’t feel any thicker than the padding on the back of your hand. She might be overweight if you have to apply significant pressure to feel her ribs. Your cat might actually be obese if you can’t feel any of her ribs.
Use of the 1–5 body condition score is another method of detection. When your cat is standing, step over and stare at her from a distance. If your cat is a healthy weight, you should be able to see a little depression over the hips that resembles a waist, however long hair may make this difficult to see. Instead, if her sides protrude, your cat can be a bit tubby. If you try these solutions and you’re still unsure whether your cat is overweight, take her to the vet so they can weigh her and look over the rest of her body. The most trustworthy way to find out if your cat needs to lose weight is to ask her doctor.
How Excess Weight Impacts Your Cat
Humans and cats alike experience psychological effects from being overweight. Although cats don’t spend much time wishing they looked better in bathing suits, overweight cats may avoid performing typical cat behaviors like playing and grooming. According to Catster, this can not only result in skin issues and potentially contagious UTIs but also be a sign that your cat is depressed or anxious.
According to research published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior and cited by The Telegraph, cats and dogs occasionally overeat to cope with stress or unpleasant emotions. The Cummings Center notes that overweight cats are also more vulnerable to conditions including diabetes, arthritis, and joint pain. The Cummings Center also points out that being overweight can result in chronic inflammation, a condition that has a detrimental effect on a pet’s general health in ways that veterinarians and pet owners are only now beginning to understand.
Causes of cat weight gain
According to Wag!, overeating and insufficient activity are the two main reasons for cat weight gain. Sometimes pet parents don’t even realize this is happening, especially as cats age and their metabolisms and activity levels go down. When a cat reaches middle age, feeding her the same quantity and variety of food you have always fed her is a recipe for weight gain because an older cat has different nutritional needs than when she was younger. Another good reason to see your veterinarian if you notice that your cat has put on weight is because of this.
Cats at Risk of Gaining Weight
According to the Cummings Center, some cats are more likely to become overweight or obese than others. Male cats who have been neutered are most likely to gain weight. Cats that live indoors and cats that are less active for other reasons are both at risk. Free-choice fed cats, or those that are permitted to graze on a bowl of kibble all day, are also more likely to be overweight.
How to Help Your Cat Lose Weight
The first step in treating your cat’s obesity is realizing that it exists. These actions can help you get your cat back to a healthy weight.
Take Your Cat to the Vet
Your cat should be examined by your veterinarian to detect or rule out any underlying health conditions that might be the source of her weight gain. Your veterinarian can give you recommendations for how much your cat should weigh and a healthy meal plan to help her get back to her healthy weight once disease has been ruled out.
Control her food intake
Although dramatically reducing the amount of food you offer your overweight cat might seem like a good idea, doing so could actually be harmful to her health. According to Pet Health Network®, a fat cat who goes two to three days without eating—whether it’s because of stress, malnutrition, or a refusal to try a new food—could develop a dangerous liver condition.
It’s safer to gradually assist your cat in losing weight by giving her a cat food composition designed for weight control. Your veterinarian can suggest a therapeutic weight loss meal that needs a prescription if she is extremely obese. In any case, it’s best to talk to your vet about your cat’s requirements before starting her on a weight-loss regimen. Always introduce new cat foods gradually to help her get used to them.
Increase her activity level
Cats are notoriously difficult to exercise. After all, unlike a dog, you can’t just take her for a stroll. The good news is that although the amount varies depending on the age and breed of the cat, cats don’t require a lot of activity to stay healthy. Aim for two fifteen-minute interactive play periods with your cat each day, where you can watch her chase and leap after her favorite toy, according to Cat Behavior Associates. It’s a smart idea to spend money on an indoor cat tree so she has places to jump and climb. Using a cat tree for playtime and exercise is akin to giving your cat access to a home gym.
Whenever you’ve wondered, “Is my cat overweight?” You’ve made a significant improvement in how you’re handling your pet’s health. You demonstrate how much you care by simply not ignoring your cat’s burgeoning size. Your cat’s quality of life will be enhanced by taking steps to stop and reverse her weight gain, and you’ll have her around for a long time to cuddle with.