The fat cat is an icon of popular culture, certainly, we've all seen Garfield's sardonic observational humor grace the weekly paper - but obesity in cats is often not a laughing matter. In today's post, our Tucson vets aim to help cat owners identify if their cat is overweight, the health consequences of obesity in cats, and what cat owners can do to help their feline friend lose those extra pounds.
Health & Weight as it Relates to Cats
Just like humans, carrying extra weight increases your cat's risk of developing some serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. As little as a few excess ounces can have a significant effect on your cat's vitality and overall health.
Increased Health Risks for Overweight Cats
If your feline friend is carrying the excess weight they face an increased risk of developing the following conditions:
- Urinary tract infections
- Joint pain
- Chronic inflammation
- Skin problems
Why Cats Become Overweight
Cats are built for running, jumping and hunting, cats typically gain excess weight when they begin consuming more calories than they are burning, however, some cat's are more prone to weight gain than others.
- Cat's facing a higher likelihood of weight gain include:
- Neutered male cats
- Senior cats
- Indoor cats with decreased opportunity for exercise
If your cat falls into one of the categories above, speak to your vet about your cat's caloric and nutritional requirements and aim to keep your cat at a healthy weight.
How To Tell If Your Cat Is Overweight
Trouble Jumping Up On To Furniture
Felines are built to jump. If it takes multiple tries for your cat to jump up onto their favorite piece of furniture, or if your cat gives up altogether, their weight could be the issue.
Feel for Your Cat's Ribs
If your kitty is at their correct weight you should be able to feel their ribs by running your hand along their chest. If you can't feel your cat's ribs, there's a good chance that your cat is overweight.
Can't See Your Cat's Waistline
Look down at your cat from directly above and look for a slight indent just above your cat's hips where their waist should be (this can be a bit more challenging with long-haired cats). No clear waist or bulging sides means that your kitty may be carrying excess weight.
Consult Our Overweight Cat Chart
Check out our overweight cat chart below to get a better understanding of your cat's weight category, and whether your cat may be carrying an extra pound or two.
Getting Kitty's Weight Back On-track
Your cat's age, breed, and lifestyle all make a significant difference to the nutritional needs of your pet.
If you think that your cat may be overweight make an appointment to see your veterinarian. Your vet can access your cat's current weight and let you know what your kitty's optimal weight is.
If your vet recommends that your cat lose weight they will provide you with recommendations on how to help your cat shed those extra ounces safely.
For cats that are just a little overweight, sticking to their regular food but reducing the size of each meal could get your pet's weight back within healthy parameters.
If your cat needs to lose a significant amount of weight, it may be best to switch your cat over to a specialized food that is formulated to help with feline weight loss.
What To Do About Unexplained Weight Gain
If your cat has suddenly begun to put on weight without cause, it's time to see your vet. Unexplained weight gain can be a symptom of an underlying health issue.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.