Just an extra pound or two can make a major difference in your cat’s health, general wellbeing and overall quality of life. All cats have an ideal weight for their size and breed, and your veterinarian can tell you what this is.
Excess weight can lead to less play time and depression. It can even significantly shorten your cat’s life expectancy as compared to a healthy weight pet. Overweight cats can have a greatly increased risk of developing serious health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, urinary stones, heart disease, breathing difficulty and even bladder cancer.
If your cat is overweight, you’re not alone. 1 in 3 pets in the UK are overweight.* It can be hard to tell if your pet is gaining weight because it happens gradually over time. The important thing is that you take steps to help your cat lose pounds and achieve a healthy weight.
Older cats are less active, have less energy, and require fewer calories. They are prone to weight gain.
Some cat breeds are more likely to gain weight. This is most typical in mixed breed cats.
Female cats are more likely to become overweight.
Very occasionally weight gain is associated with a medical disorder that may require specific treatment.
Clinical studies have shown that the basic metabolism of neutered cats is lower. Neutered cats actually require fewer calories. Spayed or neutered cats are twice as likely to become obese due to a more sedentary lifestyle. (There are many important health reasons to have your pet spayed or neutered — just remember to monitor your cat's weight.)
Cats with unlimited access to food understandably eat more than they need.
Many commercial foods are loaded with salt and fat. This improves taste, which means your cat will want to gorge.
Feeding table scraps and "people food" can lead to obesity.
Lack of exercise
Too much food and too little exercise produces a typical result: obesity.
Remember, even if your cat does not show signs of being overweight, it is important to have regular weight checks at the veterinarian's office to make sure her ideal weight is maintained.
Between check-ups, you can perform a simple test to see if your cat is maintaining a healthy weight. Place your hands on your cat’s side — are her ribs hard to feel or even impossible to feel? If so, she is likely overweight. You may also notice some of these additional signs:
- Loss of an obvious waist
- Collar needs loosening
- Difficulty in walking
- Slow movement
- Shortness of breath
- Bad temper
- Sleeping more than usual
Ask your vet about your cat’s food
Your cat’s food is perhaps the single-most important factor in helping her maintain an ideal weight. Ask your vet for a food recommendation for weight loss, including what food and how much, and do your best to stick to it. This is key because once your cat has been overweight, she may be prone to weight gain. Your cat should have an ongoing weight-management plan based on good nutrition, exercise and regular check-ups plus weigh-ins.
*Data on file. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.