Feline Obesity: Why you shouldn’t let your cat become overweight

Okay, so let’s be real with each other:

That adorable, but perhaps slightly pudgy, kitty of yours isn’t big-boned.

He isn’t ‘extra fluffy’.

He doesn’t have a glandular problem.

And calling him a double serving of loveable (with a side of scrum-diddly-umptious) is probably doing him an injustice. And possibly cause him to comfort eat even more.

Your cat is chubby.

He’s fat.

Overweight.

Maybe even verging on obese.

“But, he’s so LITTLE,” I hear you protest.

Well, no, he’s not. Eight kilos of cat is not ‘little’ by any means.

“Besides … he’s so cute with that extra roll of tub. Don’t you think? Waddle over here, little man. Yes, you. Oh, you’re so cute. Who’s a cute boy? You’re a cute boy.”

Okay, as always, this is a judgement-free zone. And trust me, I know how you feel.

I come from a family of perennial overfeeders (who overfed pets, wild animals, other humans, strangers, strange people …)

In fact, when I was a kid, my friends would always coo over our cat and say something along the lines of: ‘Oh, she’s beautiful!! When are her kittens due?’

At which point I’d be forced to admit that ‘she’ was Bob and that Bob was neither pregnant or ever likely to be. Bob was just fat. He was actually a poster child for feline obesity.

But, believe me, I understand first hand the cuteness curb appeal of a kitty with a little extra cushion for the smooshing.

And if it makes you feel any better, you and I aren’t alone in the feline obesity epidemic either. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, nearly 60% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese. But you want to know what’s worse? Around 46% of owners with chubby kitties had no idea that their pet was even overweight.

But, here’s the thing: just like being overweight can make us sick, tired and at risk of developing serious and chronic diseases, so too can feline obesity negatively impact our pet’s wellness. 

How carrying excess weight impacts your cat.

First and foremost, an overweight or obese cat has a significantly shorter life expectancy than a cat who is at her ideal weight.

If this sounds scary, I’m glad. Not because I’m mean or a hard-ass, but because I want you to take your pet’s health seriously. I know you love your cat. That’s why you’re here. But a chubby, fat or obese kitty is not ‘cute’; it’s a sign that her health is in danger.

In fact, VCA Animal Hospitals reports that feline obesity can increase your pet’s risk for:

  • Cancers of all types, diabetes mellitus, heart disease and hypertension.
  • Osteoarthritis and a faster degeneration of affected joints.
  • Urinary bladder stones.
  • Anaesthetic complications as they’re less heat tolerant.

How to help your cat lose weight

Now, after you’ve read this, I’m hoping that your next question is either, ‘How do I check if my cat’s weight is within the healthy range?’ or ‘How can I help my overweight cat lose weight?’

If it’s the former, scroll down to the end of this article and you’ll find a nifty little tool to help you calculate what weight your pet should be.

If it’s the latter, I’m giving you a nod of approval. Feline obesity is a real issue and it’s something to be aware, mindful and conscious of. And while I’d love to tailor-make a kitty weight-loss plan for you, I’d actually prefer that you see your vet.

Why?

Because they’ll be able to help you set an achievable weight loss target for your pet – losing weight too quickly puts your cat’s health in danger – and also give you easy, manageable and bite-sized (pun not intended) goals to get your kitty to her goal weight.

In the meantime, and before your vet visit, you can do some preliminary homework by tracking how much your cat actually eats each day. If you’re a free-feeder (i.e. you leave food out for your cat to graze on all day), it’s easy to overfeed your pet or lose track of how much they’ve had.

Alternatively, you may be mixing and matching dry and wet food and unintentionally overfeeding them that way. You don’t know what you don’t know, so speak to a professional who can help you out.

And finally, I want you to know something: I do think your cat is adorable. But I also think she’d look pretty trim, taut and purr-ific at her ideal weight too!

Not sure how much your kitty should weigh? Check out this Weight Translator tool to work out your pet’s ideal weight.

Disclaimer: Please consult your trusted vet or holistic animal health expert before making any changes to your pet’s diet or lifestyle. While I aim to offer well-researched and balanced articles, I am by no means as well-informed as your trusted veterinarian. Please use your own inner guidance and the wisdom of the pro’s when making decisions regarding your pet’s wellbeing.

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