What To Do If Your Cat Is Overweight
Is your cat overweight or is it just fur? Fur can indeed hide a lot! However, it’s important to understand the difference between a healthy cuddly cat and an overweight or obese cat.
Picking up on this distinction can be the difference between a happy, healthy and long life for your cat or one full of uncomfortable (and expensive!) health problems.
So how do you know if your cat is overweight? When should you intervene with their weight and how do you help them lose weight if needed?
In this guide, we’ll answer all these questions and more so you can enjoy as much time with your much-loved cat as possible.
Signs Your Cat Is Overweight
If you regularly cuddle your cat and lavish it with plenty of pats, chances are you may be more aware of its weight changes than you think.
However, it can be easy to miss weight gain simply by looking at cuddling your cat. This is especially true if it happens slowly and you’re gradually adjusting to their changed appearance without even realising it.
Thankfully there are a few ways to quickly check if your cat is overweight. You may need to make some changes for their better health if:
- You cannot easily feel their ribs
- You cannot easily feel their spine
- There is a layer of low-hanging fat (not only loose skin) under their abdomen
- The space between their ribs and hips sticks out
- They have the inability to exercise or are more lethargic than they used to be
- Their collar has become too tight
- They have Infrequent bowel movements
- They experience difficulty jumping or moving about
- Their coat is messy and unkempt
Why Is My Cat Overweight?
Obesity or weight issues in cats can be attributed to or caused by a number of factors.
The main reason for weight issues in cats is in essence the difference between energy intake (how much they eat) and energy usage (how much they exercise). Just as with any living thing that eats too much and moves too little - weight gain will occur.
As an owner, you could be the main contributor to this weight gain through the feeding of high-calorie food or a large number of unnecessary treats.
Other common factors that can contribute to weight gain or obesity in cats include medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism. These conditions are diagnosed by a vet and will require careful management.
Age and whether they are desexed can also play a factor in their appetite and weight gain.
Health Issues Seen In Overweight Cats
Cats are susceptible to developing a range of serious complications to their health when carrying too much weight. Many of these are painful for your cat and difficult to manage not to mention life-limiting.
If your cat’s weight is not properly managed they are at risk of developing:
Insulin resistance and diabetes. SDiabetes is already the second-most common feline endocrine (hormonal) disease and weight gain serves to seriously increase your pet's chances of developing it. Sadly, overweight cats have been shown to be twice as likely to develop diabetes and obese cats are four times more likely to develop this complication.
Urinary tract diseases. Overweight cats move less and tend to drink less, both of which can contribute to infrequent urination and as a result poor kidney function and urinary tract infections.
Arthritis and soft tissue injuries. Added weight places unnecessary stress on joints and ligaments which can cause irreparable damage. Many overweight cats become lame and immobile as a result.
Non-allergic skin diseases. An overweight cat tends to groom itself less often and this can contribute to dandruff, skin infections and more.
Heart disease and high blood pressure (hypertension) certain types of cancers and anesthetic complications have also been linked with overweight cats.
Best Treatment For Obese Or Overweight Cats
If you suspect your cat is obese or overweight, it’s best to get them seen by a vet.
By starting with a veterinary consult, your vet can determine if the cause is diet based or if it’s due to a more sinister underlying medical issue. This will give you the best chance to manage your cat’s weight gain and improve its overall health.
Your vet will be able to recommend an appropriate diet that fulfils their nutritional needs without overindulging them. Bondi Pet has a range of cat food products that are specifically formulated to keep your furry friend at a healthy weight, so you are bound to find the perfect fit for your feline.
If medications are required alongside dietary adjustments, your vet will also walk you through the correct dosages and how to dose your cat and will likely set up a schedule for check-ups moving forward.
Our Top 5 Tips to Help Your Cat Lose Weight
If your vet confirms your cat is overweight it's time to take some practical steps to help them get back to a healthy size.
Here are our top tips to make sure your cat’s weight loss journey is both effective and fun!
Look into diet food and feeding frequency. As we’ve already mentioned, speak to your vet to determine the most suitable diet that fulfils your cat’s nutritional needs without giving them an unnecessary amount of calories.
You may also need to reduce portion sizes and change feeding times to better support their weight loss. Your vet will guide you through what is best with regards to food.
2. Cut The Treats
Cat treats are great for training and adding important nutrients to your cat's diet. However, if your cat loves its treats too much and you tend to indulge multiple times a day this needs to stop.
Instead of spoiling your cat with lots of treats, exchange these treats for additional playtime. If you simply have to include treats, such as during training, make sure they are low-calorie, healthier options.
3. Introduce More Activity
We know it can be tricky to entice your cat to exercise. One way to do this is to consider a feeding ball for cats.
If your cat loves dry food, pick up a feeding ball for use at meal times that forces them to work for each biscuit. They’ll have fun pushing the ball around and get significantly more exercise while doing so. Helpfully, this also helps to slow eating down which can help to reduce overeating.
4. Diversify Their Play
Make playtime more fun and engaging. Cats are typically sedentary creatures, but during the hours they are awake you have got to get them moving!
Toss around a small toy that they can chase or put some climbing posts and scratchers out. Giving your cat some low-intensity exercise options should encourage them to move more which is vital to burning excess calories and achieving weight loss.
5. Help The Stay Hydrated
Keep up the water supply. Just like humans, sometimes your cat feels “hungry” when they're really just bored or thirsty.
If playtime doesn’t ease their boredom and they’re asking for more food we suggest putting out an enticing fresh bowl of water to give them something to consume.