Overweight Cat - Risks and Treatments
- How to tell if my cat is healthy?
- Is my cat overweight?
- Health Risk of an Overweight Cat
- Treatment for Overweight Cats
- What to feed my overweight cat?
Do you know there are many types of malnutrition in pet cats? One of the most common forms is obese and overweight cats! Although most pet owners do not think of overweight cats as a form of malnutrition, it is actually labelled as such because your pet is not getting enough nutrition, leading to the overconsumption of calories, which in turn leads to obesity!
Most fat cats are thought to be cute, cuddly or lazy but they may have many underlying health issues that can go unseen for a period of time. So in this article, we will discuss all you need to know about overweight cats and how to handle this rather substantial situation.
How to tell if my cat is healthy?
The most common way of identifying your cat’s health is by assessing its body weight. For a pet owner or a layman, just giving your cat a cursory look may be sufficient to see whether your cat has gained or lost weight.
However, the weight of a cat actually depends on the age and breed of the cat. Therefore there is a scale to assess the body condition of a cat called body condition score (BCS).
Is my cat overweight?
The below chart grades the body condition of a cat from 1 to 5. The ideal body condition would be a 3 and is the average weight for cats. A BCS of 1 is very thin and a BSC of 5 is obese and unhealthy.
You will be unable to feel the ribs of an obese cat as the ribs are covered by a thick layer of fat. Your cat also will not have a waist.
Cat weight chart
View the cat weight chart below to get a clearer picture of the scale used.
Ideally, the cat body condition score should be able to tell you whether your cat is obese or not.
Now that you have a rough idea how heavy your cat should be, observe your cat and see if it is overweight or not!
Health Risk of an Overweight Cat
There are many causes of weight gain in cats. Being overweight and obese can reduce your cat’s quality and life expectancy. There are many health risks of an overweight cat which include:
Fat cats are more at risk of diabetes, which will require daily insulin injections and further treatments.
Usually, diabetes can be cured or properly handled once the extra weight of the cat is lost.
Do your research on cat diabetes and symptoms. It will highly encourage you to reduce your cat’s weight.
2. Liver failure
One extremely potent health risk for overweight cats is liver failure. In normal times, a cat’s body moves fat to be stored in the liver to be used as energy. However, when a cat is obese, it is unable to manage that process effectively, thus leading to poor liver function.
In actual fact, poor liver function is just the tip of the iceberg. For more serious cases, it can lead to fatal hepatic insufficiency and liver failure which will then lead to a painful death for your cat.
3. Compromised immune system
Your cat will be more prone to infection if they are overweight as the immune system is compromised. Types of infection include urinary infection.
Overweight cats tend to be more at risk of lameness and osteoarthritis. The increased force on the joints due to the extra weight of cats when it jumps from high places could be a cause. Overweight cats may also produce abnormal cartilage, leading to lameness.
5. Increased surgical and anesthetic risk
If your obese cats require surgery, your vet will take extra precautions when using anesthesia on it to perform the said surgery. This is because the anesthetics are taken up by fat and will take longer to come out of the effects of anesthesia.
The anesthesia must first be removed from the fat by the body. Also, anesthetics are broken down by the liver and if your overweight cat has a fatty liver, it does not effectively break down the aesthetics. Therefore, recovery is also slower!
An overweight cat also obviously has more fat in its body which makes surgery more difficult. The fat in the body will block areas that are required to go for surgery and the vet will take longer because of this technicality. This, again, increases the anesthetic risk.
6. Skin problems
Dry, flaky and feline acne are the most common conditions in obese cats. This is because obese cats are often unable to groom themselves adequately. They cannot reach parts of their body because they are too fat. This may result in skin problems developing on their body.
Treatment for Overweight Cats
As always, hope is not lost for overweight cats. To reach its ideal weight, it may be over a period of time, sometimes up to a year, but it can happen. It may be hard to see if your cat is really losing weight or not since you see your pet cat daily.
However, do not lose heart. To treat obesity, it takes time.
To note, it is dangerous for your cat to lose weight too quickly as it can then predispose the cat to develop hepatic lipidosis. Hepatic lipidosis is a potentially fatal liver disease when fat is deposited within the liver. This is caused by a change in metabolism.
For your cat to lose weight, a gradual and steady decrease in body weight is ideal. It is not easy but by following the best weight loss tips for cats, you will be successful in helping your cat.
Take your cat to your local veterinarian before starting on any treatments for cat obesity. The vet may have many extra tips or may spot potential health risks.
So, to treat your cat, the best way is to adjust its diet. To adjust the diet, there are two ways you can do so which are:-
Reduce calorie intake
Stop free feeding your cats. Free feeding is when you never leave your pet’s food bowl empty. You need to know exactly how much your cat is consuming daily and it is prudent to measure how much food you put out for it.
We suggest that you stop free feeding your cat because cats very often eat when they are bored.
You will also need to calculate how many calories your cat needs daily. To calculate, generally a cat needs about 20 calories for every pound that it weighs to maintain its weight.
Let’s say your cat is 10 pounds. It will need 200 calories to maintain its weight.
Keep in mind that we are aiming for weight loss. Once you have determined how much it needs to maintain the weight, lower that amount by 40 calories. As and when your cat loses weight, you will need to lower its food intake to adjust to the lost weight accordingly until your cat reaches its ideal weight.
Remember not to underfeed your cat. It still needs food to survive!
Change the type of food
Cats are obligate carnivores. They need meat in their diet to survive. Look at cats in the wild. They would prey on small mammals which is high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
Help your cat to lose the extra fat by feeding a high protein diet. You want to help your cat to maintain it’s lean body mass like its muscles and the protein helps it do that.
The best weight loss diet for cats is always found in its food and not in the extra supplements.
What to feed my overweight cat?
As we mentioned above, cats need more protein than any other food group in their diet. It is essential for them. An overweight cat diet is all the more important as you are trying to help it lose weight.
It can be rather tough for a cat owner to cook the food by themselves as there are so many factors to take into account such as the amount, calories, nutritional value and so forth. Let us assure you that store bought cat food is okay. All you have to do is ensure that your cat is getting the sufficient nutrients whilst cutting down on caloric intake.
Always read the label before purchasing. There is an overwhelming number of choices - from the grocery store to pet stores so even then, it might not be an easy feat to choose a specific type of cat food. Ironically, there are even multiple choices for food for overweight cats!
This is why we recommend the Cat Variety Pack from Petcubes. Not only does it have a variety of meat which is chicken, beef, duck, lamb, venison and kangaroo, it is also raw protein and does not contain additional preservatives and carbs. For picky cat eaters, this is perfect.
All you have to do is ensure it gets enough protein. We cannot stress that enough.
Ultimately, whatever diet you choose for your cat, the onus is on you to choose the best diet cat food.
When you allow your cat to become overweight, you are not contributing positively to your cat’s health. Overweight cats, though may look cute, come with many health issues, risks and problems. There are certain steps to take, as a pet owner, to help your cat lose the extra weight so that it has a quality, long and healthy life!