As with their human counterparts, cats typically get fat because they eat too much and exercise too little. Obesity-related health problems include heart disease, ruptured ligaments, respiratory compromise, tiredness, diabetes, greater susceptibility to certain types of liver disease, and osteoarthritis.
If you’ve got a fat cat, ask your veterinarian about a diet and exercise program tailored to your pet.
Symptoms and Identification (This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.)
Identification of feline obesity is generally undertaken by implementing a charting method called body condition scoring, which results in a score between 1 and 5 or 1 and 9, depending on the specific chart applied. In both cases the idea is the same:
1 represents a too-thin cat, 5 or 9 is a morbidly obese one. 3 and 5 are considered ideal, while any cat scoring greater than 4 or 7 is considered overweight or obese.
The idea behind determining a BCS in cats has to do with identifying what’s ideal for each individual animal. Weight, after all, is not the overriding issue. How much extra weight a cat is carrying will vary widely even among members of the same breed.
The average domestic shorthaired cat should weigh 8 to 10 pounds (3.6 to 4.5 kg), though some individual and breed variation is to be expected. Here’s how to tell if your cat is fat:
The most effective weight-loss plans involve increasing activity and feeding fewer calories. There are several dietary strategies for helping a cat lose weight. Veterinarians may suggest one or more of the following:
Feline-formulated treats should be offered only on special occasions unless they are being administered to meet certain therapeutic goals (e.g., for tartar control or for administering medications). If treats must be given, don’t forget to include these calories when counting how many calories your cat should get each day.
Recent reports have suggested that wet or moistened diets may be healthier for cats, but check with your veterinarian about the best strategy for your cat and your lifestyle.
Cats may be encouraged to become more active and lose weight if owners schedule regular playtimes. Here are some calorie-burning activities for cats:
Chasing (e.g., use string, sticks with attached feathers, balls, or laser pointers [never point these at an animal’s or person’s eyes])
The easiest way to deal with feline obesity is to prevent it. Asking a veterinarian to assess your cat’s body condition score and taking the above weight-loss measures before an animal is obese is the ideal approach.
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