To Do When Your Cat Is Overweight
Perhaps the most
common malnutrition problem with cats is obesity. To be considered
obese, a cat has to be at least 20% heavier than what is considered to
be its optimal weight, and the excess weight is due to fat
accumulation. A cat that is 1-19% over its ideal body weight is
considered to be overweight. To maintain health and to ensure a long
and happy life, cats should be neither obese nor overweight.
Determining If A Cat Is Overweight Or Obese
There is no magical body weight that is appropriate for all cats. The
breed, general size, and age of the cat all have a factor in how much
it should weigh. To determine the optimal weight of a specific cat, it
is best to consult a veterinarian. In general, however, a cat whose
ribs are hard to feel because they are covered with a layer of fat is
overweight or obese, depending on how thick the layer of fat is.
A cat is also considered to be obese if it has a moderate or thick
layer of fat that covers all of its bony areas. Some obese cats even
develop a bulge under the abdomen, which is sometimes referred to as a
“skirt.” If the cat doesn't have a visible waist and if the
back appears broad when viewed from above, the cat is obese.
Risks Of Obesity
A cat that is overweight or obese runs the risk of developing a variety
of health disorders. Some disorders that are common for obese cats to
develop include: diabetes mellitus, lower urinary tract disease, joint
stress, aggravation of osteoarthritis, non-allergic skin diseases,
decreased stamina, and Hepatic lipidosis, which is fat deposited in the
In addition, a cat that is overweight or obese has develops a decrease
in immune function, can have difficulty giving birth, and can develop
Obesity Risk Factors
Some cats are more likely to become overweight or obese than others. In
general, however, cats are just like humans. If a cat takes in more
calories than it uses, it will gain weight. The excess energy it gains
from the calories becomes stored as fat.
Purebred cats, however, are less likely to become obese than mixed
breeds. In addition, cats that are neutered have a tendency to gain
weight more easily than those who are not, probably in part due to the
fact that non-neutered cats have the tendency to roam in search of a
mate. In addition, the metabolic rate of a neutered cat decreases by
about 20%. Therefore, a neutered cat needs less food in order to
maintain its ideal body weight.
Cats under two years of age are less likely to be overweight or obese
than cats that are between the ages of two and ten. This is because
cats between these ages require less energy. On the other hand,
geriatric cats, which are older than ten, have a tendency to be
underweight. In addition, certain medications can make a cat more
likely to gain weight, as some medications will cause an increase in
appetite and other medications cause a decrease in metabolic rate. Some
medications that commonly lead to weight gain in cats are
cortisosteroids, cyperoheptidine, and amytripyline.
Treating Obesity In The Cat
It is not healthy for an overweight or obese cat to lose weight too
quickly. In fact, rapid weight loss increases a cat's likelihood of
developing hepatic lipidosis, which is a fatal liver disease that
causes fat to be deposited in the liver. Instead, an overweight or
obese cat should lose weight steadily and gradually. In fact, it can
take up to a year for a severely overweight cat to reach its ideal body
weight in a healthy manner.
To best help a cat lose weight in a healthy manner, a veterinarian
should be consulted. He or she can help create a healthy eating plan.
It is important to note that cats are carnivores, which means they must
have meat in their diets in order to survive. Therefore, cutting out
meat in an attempt to lose weight is not a good idea. In fact, it can
prove to be fatal to the cat. Furthermore, since a cat's natural diet
consists of meat, which provides high protein and low carbohydrates,
the diet should contain similar foods. This type of diet actually helps
the cat lose fat and still maintain lean body mass, such as muscle.
To help an overweight or obese cat lose weight, it also should be
encouraged to get plenty of exercise. This is particularly true for
older cats with slower metabolisms, neutered cats, indoor cats with
restricted activity, and cats on medication that affects weight. Pet
owners can encourage exercise by playing with the cat often. For more
direct exercise, a cat harness can be purchased to walk the cat around
the house or up and down stairs. Feeding bowls can even be moved to
areas that require more walking and, of course, cut down on the
portions of food an overweight cat receives.
Once the cat is down to its optimal weight, its weight can be
maintained by purchasing special “light” or low calorie
formulas of food. These formulas are specifically created for cats who
are less active or who have decreased metabolism.
Cat Article courtesy of I-Love-Cats.com
Please note: The
information provided here is meant to supplement that provided by your
Nothing can replace a complete history and physical examination
performed by your veterinarian.