Cat obesity: what symptoms?  What risks?  What diet?

what symptoms? What risks? What diet?

Obesity in cats, also known as overweight, is a disease that is often not taken seriously enough. If you find your little companion cute because he has become a real “ball” of hair, in reality it is rather worrying.

Indeed, obesity is a disease that can cause many very serious and disabling health problems for him, which can even shorten his life expectancy by one to three years. Fixing the problem as quickly as possible is therefore essential for your cat to live in good health.

How do you know if your cat is obese? What are the symptoms ?

Obesity in cats is not obvious to everyone. Moreover, it is not possible in cats to refer to a body mass index (BMI) calculation system, as it exists for humans.

The best way to know if your cat is overweight is to observe its silhouette, and especially to feel it. If you can touch his spine and his ribs without pressing down, he’s not overweight. Similarly, if his waist is visible (that is, if you can see even a slight demarcation between his hips and chest), then there is nothing to worry about.

If, on the other hand, his size is not visible, you notice a pocket of fat on his lower abdomen, and his spine and ribs cannot be felt without pressing, you have to ask questions, because the cat is most likely overweight or even obese.

In addition, you will be able to observe changes in his behavior, such as difficulty washing himself in different places, or even problems climbing on furniture, things he had no problem doing before.

If you have the slightest doubt about a potential obesity in your cat, do not hesitate to quickly make an appointment with a veterinarian so that he can advise you on the steps to follow.

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What are the risks of obesity in cats?

As said above, obesity in our feline friends is not a disease to be taken lightly. It is the cause of many health or behavioral problems:

    • restricted agility,
    • difficulty washing,
    • too frequent need for food, which will push him to ask you to eat repeatedly
    • breathing problems and shortness of breath on the slightest exertion,
    • cardiovascular problems that can unfortunately lead to the death of the cat in some cases,
    • bone and/or joint problems, especially in the legs which struggle to bear the excessive weight of their body.

As you will have understood, all these risks represent a direct danger to the life of your little companion, whether in the long or short term. It is therefore very important to solve this problem as soon as possible.

What causes obesity in cats?

Knowing the origin of your cat’s obesity is almost as important as treating it. This will allow you to avoid repeating the same errors, whether with your current cat or even with the next ones.

First of all, it is obvious that the problem comes from food, but not only. An overweight cat absorbs more energy than it consumes. He therefore most likely lacks physical activity, in addition to receiving food that is probably not suitable for him.

Indeed, whether it is croquettes or mash, you must first of all respect a daily quantity which is specific to each brand. This amount is marked on the box or bag containing the food in question, and represents what your cat will need each day. When this threshold is exceeded, the cat is “over-fed”.

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It is also necessary to pay attention to the type of food that one gives to his animal. A food for indoor cats, for example, will be less caloric than that intended for outdoor cats, since an apartment cat does less physical exercise than a cat that can go out, hunt and run more freely.

Too much candy can also make you obese. We must not forget that these delicacies are very caloric, like confectionery and pastries for humans. Abuse of it will irremediably make your cat fat. Giving a small reward a day is more than enough.

Some people do not hesitate to give their little companion meals for the ends of their meals, this is still much more common for dogs than for cats, but it remains a serious mistake. Human food is extremely rich for any animal, in addition to being very often too salty and/or spicy. This practice is therefore to be avoided.

Finally, there are certain less common factors that can promote weight gain in a cat, certain treatments such as corticosteroids for example, but also stress (during a move or the arrival of a new animal in the house), or even sterilization. The sex hormones normally consume energy in the animal. Once sterilized, they are no longer present in the body. Keeping the same type of food then amounts to giving him as many calories as before when he needs less of them to compensate.

How to make your cat lose weight? Which diet to use?

The first thing to do when you notice that your cat is overweight is to consult a veterinarian. The latter can direct you to a diet specific to the needs of your cat, according to its potential health problems and its age.

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Most often, you will have to change your diet. Obviously remove any excess (treats and end of meals), and provide him with an appropriate diet. We will often recommend croquettes (less caloric than household rations or mash), from a so-called “light” range, therefore light, and which contain more fiber, thus causing a better feeling of satiety.

You can also split his meals. If, for example, you had got into the habit of giving him two meals a day, this time you will have to give him four or five small meals during the day (respecting the daily ration indicated on the packet of croquettes). This will get your little friend used to eating smaller meals, gradually reducing the size of his stomach. If he asks for food outside his meal times, as for a child, he obviously must not give in.

Finally, you will have to stimulate your cat so that it exerts itself more. Buy him new toys, throw him balls, or titillate him with a cat fishing rod, whatever it takes to arouse in him a desire to play and therefore expend energy. Weight loss can be slow, but following these tips, along with your vet’s advice, should eventually pay off.

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