Fat cats may be cuddly and nice to hold, but they are certainly not healthy. More and more cats are experiencing obesity, and the condition’s attendant health problems.
What is feline obesity? Feline obesity can be defined as the condition of being 15% or more above the IBW or ideal body weight. The average body weight for most cats ranges from 8 to 10 pounds, so if your cat is at about 12 pounds, he or she might be obese.
Apart from body weight, the cat’s body condition is also an important indicator. When visually inspecting your cat, a definite waist line should be seen both from both the side and the top, when your cat is standing. That is, an hourglass figure should be more or less visible. The ribs and vertebrae should also not be visible, as this would indicate that the cat is undernourished. But these bone structures should be palpable when you try and feel your cat’s body – if they are not they are most probably concealed by too much body fat.
If your cat is indeed obese, there are quite a few health risks that are increased. These are similar to those that humans experience with obesity. For one thing, your cat’s cardiovascular system is put under stress with the increased body mass. Too much cardiac fatigue can lead to a premature death at worst; greater inactivity and obesity at best.
Overweight cats also have increased chances of becoming diabetic, about four times greater than cats with normal body weights. Fat cats can also have difficulty breathing, as the increased body fat can decrease the space available for the lungs. This body fat also increases the stress on the muscles and bones, which can lead to muscle injury or arthritis. The obese cat’s liver function is also impaired. And the cat’s ability to clean itself may be impaired, leading to greater chances of skin infections, as well as lethargy and depression on the cat’s part.
There are steps that a cat owner can take, if his cat is overweight. First, visit a vet to determine whether the cat has any underlying diseases that might be causing the obesity. If not, then it is just a matter of adjusting the cat’s lifestyle.
The cat’s calorie intake should be decreased, but gradually. Crash diets, as for humans, may appear to work more quickly, but at the expense of great stress on the body. In cats, crash dieting (or not feeding at all) can lead to hepatic lipidosis, which has as symptoms vomiting and inability to eat properly.
The cat should also be induced to more physical activity. Fortunately there are a lot of cat toys designed with this in mind available on the market. Cat Scratchers are great at keeping your cats active. These options can be explored by the obese cat owner to see which ones could work for his particular situation – and which ones his cat actually likes. The presence of another cat also often leads to greater physical activity as they play together.
With proper care by the owner, fat cats can be restored to their proper body forms, and to a healthier, more active lifestyle.