Being overweight is one of the most common issues found during feline physical exams. Around 30-35% of the feline population are obese. Felines in the 5 years – 11 years age range seem to be the most affected, with 50% being obese.
According to hillspet.com, extra weight on felines can contribute to many health issues such as:
- Decrease in the desire to play
- Diabetes mellitus
- Urinary stones
- Heart disease
- Difficulty breathing
- Even bladder cancer in severe case
Why are our feline friends so overweight?
Well, there are many factors that contribute to the rising statistics. There are some of the contributing factors of feline obesity:
- Gender (female cats are more likely to become overweight)
- Medical disorders
- Neutering/spaying (due to lowering a pet’s metabolism) – this is not a reason to avoid spaying or neutering your cat
- Feeding habits
- Lack of exercise
How do you know if your cat is overweight?
First, you should consult your veterinarian. During their exam, your veterinarian will give your cat a body condition score in the range of 1-9 using the body condition score system shown below to let you know if your pet is overweight and they can also give you a goal weight for your pet. The body condition score system is explained in the chart below:
How do you help your overweight cat?
- Discuss with your Veterinarian the food that your cat is currently eating. Ask if your cat should be switched to food intended for weight loss.
- Weight loss foods are high in fiber, have fewer calories per cup and they are specially formulated to provide enough protein, vitamins, and minerals to keep your cat healthy and help them lose weight safely when their calories per day have been decreased.
- Come up with an exercise plan for your cat. Cats are natural hunters so they like to: “hunt” their food in puzzle feeders, use toy feeders that dispense their meals that they can bat across the floor, chasse laser pointers, and play with toys that make noise as if it is “prey.”
- If your cat is really up for a challenge- you may try a wheel that they can walk on (similar to a hamster wheel) or see how they would do in an underwater treadmill.
Please feel free to call the clinic with any questions that you may have pertaining to weight loss for your cat. You may also visit our website to view helpful handouts on our Fit Club, weight loss, and exercising your pet at:
Written by Maggie, Registered Veterinary Technician and Fit Club Coach at Animal Health Clinic of Funkstown