Is your cat big, fluffy … or do you have an obese cat? Here’s how to tell if your cat is truly overweight and how to help her lose weight safely. Have you ever wondered if your cat is too fat? We’ve all heard it before. An overweight and obese cat is less healthy than a thin cat . Cats that carry too much weight are less active and have less energy, and are at higher risk for certain diseases and conditions.
How can you tell if your cat is obese?
If your cat’s body weight is 20 percent or more than her ideal “normal” weight, she is considered obese. But how can you tell if your cat is truly obese or just a big cat? It can be difficult to tell, especially if your cat is very fluffy. Also, since many pets are heavier than they should be, we have become used to seeing fat cats and think that they are only normal-sized cats. In fact, nearly 60 percent of all cats in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Association for the Prevention of Pet Obesity.
When in doubt, ask your vet if your cat is overweight during his annual exam. Since your vet weighs your cat at each visit, it’s easy to look back at his records to see if he has gained weight over the years. Your vet can also do what’s called a body condition score to determine if he is overweight.
Can you check if your cat is obese at home?
If you’re curious, assess your cat’s weight at home by following some simple instructions. “ Put your hands on either side of the cat,” says Stephanie Demarco, DVM, of VCA Kirkwood Animal Hospital in Newark, Delaware. “If the ribs are difficult to feel, the cat is probably overweight. Also look at the cat’s waist – he should have one. If it’s that wide from chest to waist, [your cat is] probably overweight. ‘
Some other signs that your cat could be putting on too many pounds: if she needs to loosen her collar (or if you need to buy her a larger collar), if she starts to slow down or does not walk or play as much as she used A, if she stops putting stairs, or if you are short of breath, sleep longer, or seem grumpier than you used to be.
Remember: your vet is always your best bet when diagnosing an obese cat.
With the variations that exist between all cats, the number of pounds is not always the best indicator of whether a particular cat is fat or not, but your vet can help you with this part.
“We now have tools that take a cat’s age, breed, and overall body size into account to see if they are really overweight and what their ideal weight should be,” explains Dr. Demarco.
Why are obese cats at risk?
” They are at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes mellitus , osteoarthritis, kidney disease, and liver disease, to name just a few,” says Dr. Demarco. “Studies have shown that even if they don’t develop one of these diseases, they generally have a shorter life span than cats that are not overweight.”
What to do if you have an obese cat
If you or your vet determine that your cat needs some weight loss, there are a number of ways to help her lose those pounds. Diet is the first consideration. Although you will find many “light” diets at the pet supply store, the answer is not always as simple as switching to a diet food. Also, knowing how much to feed your cat varies considerably depending on the type of food you are feeding. The amounts suggested on the label are generally more than the average needs of a cat and much more than the needs of an overweight or obese cat.
“Visit your vet and make a plan,” says Dr. Demarco. “ Foods have different ingredients with different calorie densities, and some cats have other medical issues that need to be considered, so all of this is included in the plan. Work together to choose the best diet for your pet and determine how much of a specific diet to feed.
What and how to feed obese cats
If you feed your cat chow, your vet may recommend switching to canned foods, which provide more protein and less carbohydrate than ready-made diets, and can help your cat feel full longer. Canned food also provides extra fluid, something that is beneficial because cats don’t usually drink as much water as they should.
You should feed him at scheduled meals, instead of free feeding or leaving food at all times, it is something that benefits all cats, not just overweight cats. Free feeding is convenient for us humans, but cats tend to snack all day and consume more calories than they need. They can also eat out of boredom when food is always available. Feeding him at scheduled meals also allows you to serve measured portions so you know your cat isn’t consuming too many calories.
Exercise for an obese cat
“Weight loss alone is often not enough,” says Dr. Demarco. “Increasing exercise, while challenging for some cats, can be very rewarding. Cats tend to have short attention spans, so activities generally last no more than a few minutes. Rotating through different toys that stimulate multiple senses and the predatory drive of cats can be very beneficial. As little as 15 to 20 minutes a day can help you lose weight. ”
While your cat is on a weight loss program, your vet will want to see you regularly for weigh-ins. “Regular check-ups are very important to make sure any problems they run into can be discussed and, if the plan doesn’t work, what you need to do to make it work,” advises Dr. Demarco.
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