Chunky kitties are undeniably adorable and squishy; however, the extra fat they carry increases the risk of developing a health condition. Today, over 56 million felines in America are overweight – 40% suffering from obesity. Even though a couple of extra rolls can make them look funny and cute, they could develop terrible health issues and shorten their life expectancy without the proper care.
As veterinarians, we recommend cat owners monitor their pet's diet early on. With a proper and strict diet, and an active lifestyle, chances are your cat will not suffer from obesity. Although this disease is preventable, it is commonly overlooked and underplayed until it has developed into something worse.
If your cat is obese, know that it does not make you a bad owner. It is hard to imagine you are causing harm to your kitty by spoiling them with treats. The danger of this condition is that it is silent and often unnoticed on big, furry cats. If you think your cat might have put on a couple of extra pounds, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to confirm they are healthy. Just know that you might have to implement a couple of lifestyle changes to improve your cat's quality of life.
What Are the Risks of Obesity?
Just like people, obese cats suffer from health issues like heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. This condition causes the loss of their athletic abilities and does not allow them to groom correctly. This can develop into skin problems and digestive issues. Obesity also increases the chance of certain types of cat cancer. Overall, obesity tends to shorten a cat's life and lower its quality.
Dealing with Feline Obesity
Although obesity sounds terrible, chances are, you can significantly impact your cat's life for the better. By helping your cat battle obesity, you can improve their quality of life and bring them back to their ideal weight.
Know that a cat's weight loss journey is not similar to humans. It includes diet and exercise; however, it is dangerous to starve them or put them on crash diets. For cats, a slow and steady weight loss is ideal. With the proper care, your cat can reach its ideal weight in a year.
Understand Your Cat's Dietary Needs
Since all cats are different, they all have specific weight and health conditions, so no particular weight declares them overweight. To identify an obese cat, veterinarians use a Body Condition Scoring (BCS) system. After a veterinarian has diagnosed your cat, you will receive a list of changes to implement to change your cat's lifestyle based on its unique condition and health.
Switch Up Their Diet
After an obesity diagnosis, your veterinarian will gladly recommend specific foods to facilitate the weight loss journey. While it is unnecessary to buy the most expensive food, look for healthier, natural food options that meet your cat's nutritional needs. Although it might not be the cheapest option, you will see a significant improvement in your cat's health.
Switching to canned food could be a good idea as long as your veterinarian approves. Certain canned food brands contain lower carbohydrates and higher protein than dry food, making it a better option. Additionally, canned food encourages your cat to eat less during the day, preventing free feeding.
To improve your cat's weight, avoid free feeding at all costs. Although it is convenient, cats do not know when to stop eating and often overindulge. By scheduling mealtimes, you can better control the amount of food your cat eats.
Maintain Strict Treat Guidelines
Although it might feel impossible to deny your kitty treats every time they ask for it, you will need to learn to say no. While it might be an excellent way to show your love, consider switching "treat time" for cuddles or playful activities that will physically engage them.
If denying your cat treats seems impossible, lower the amount of food in their bowl and replace it with "treat time."
Engage Your Cats Natural Instincts
Activating your cats' natural hunting instincts will get them some much-needed exercise. To encourage this, you can spread their meals to multiple little ones during the day. Switching out the food location and medium is a tremendous challenge to the cats' abilities. Consider purchasing food-dispensing toys that challenge them to some activity.
Engaging their hunting instinct will encourage some much-needed exercise. Most house cats tend to get lazy over time, significantly contributing to their obesity. To avoid this, have multiple play sessions with your cat throughout the day. This will burn calories, relieve boredom, promote bonding, stimulate their minds, and improve their physical condition.
Schedule Routine Wellness Exams
Schedule routine wellness exams with your veterinarian to monitor your cat's weight loss process. Routine exams are strongly recommended even if your cat seems completely healthy. Felines are known for hiding any suffering or pain. If you suspect your cat has put on a bit of weight lately, schedule an appointment with us today.