You might think that overweight cats are cute; the more cat there is, the more to love. But your cat being obese can be the cause of many serious, and seriously expensive, medical concerns. It might be tempting to let your kitty pack on the pounds through yummy treats and pampering, but those extra pounds could be cutting into the years that you'll have with your cat. Cat obesity is a growing epidemic, research shows that nearly one in three cats is obese, so today we're dedicating all of our resources to discussing this growing feline concern.
How To Determine if Your Cat Is Overweight
You and your vet may partner together to use any number of means to determine your cat's health in relationship to its weight. Obesity isn't like other illnesses; it won't strike quickly or be the immediate result of an accident. Obesity will slowly overcome your cat in a gradual progression that can be difficult to spot without the help of an outside eye. The signal that your cat might be getting unhealthily large may be as simple as one of your friends commenting on your cat's weight. Your vet will likely use some of the means below to help assess your cat's health; additionally, you may utilize some of the tactics listed to diagnose your cat's obesity.
- A thorough veterinary examination, including an accurate measure of body weight and an assessment of body condition score. A historical review of changes in your cat's body weight is often helpful in establishing a pattern of weight gain and may help identify a particular event or change in environment that relates to the increase in body weight.
- Routine blood work including a complete blood cell count, serum profile and urinalysis are necessary to determine if there is an underlying disease. If the results of these tests indicate a problem, additional tests are warranted to specifically identify the condition before starting a weight loss program.
- An assessment of your cat's current daily intake of all food, treats, snacks, table foods and exercise schedule is important in the development of a successful weight loss program. Clearly, if the calculated caloric intake exceeds the calculated daily energy requirement of the cat at an ideal body weight, then excessive caloric intake is the cause of the obesity.
The Causes Of Feline Obesity
Just like with humans, there can be several underlying causes for your cat's obesity. Your kitty may be overweight due to overfeeding or she may be taking on more weight due to a disease. One of the most common causes of feline obesity is overeating. Most cat owners believe the myth that their cats will simply stop eating when they get full, but that's not always the case. Cats are just as likely to start overeating as humans are. Would you just stop eating once you thought you were full if you were sitting in front of an all-you-can-eat buffet of your favorite food? And when you were sitting in front of that buffet your perception of when you were “full” probably changed from what is normal for you. The same goes for cats.
Cats can become obese when they chronically consume more calories in a day than their daily energy requirement. This problem is often associated with automatic cat feeders or with cats who are feed too much at each meal. Automatic feeders that replenish themselves after your cat takes a bite might sound tempting, you won't have to worry about feeding Fluffy again for awhile, but they can lead to a serious overeating problem. When your cat takes in excessive dietary calories, those same calories are stored as body fat.
There are a few other causes of cat obesity, the most likely medical causes behind a cat's obesity are Hypothyroidism, Insulinoma, or Cushing's Syndrome. Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland. This gland is responsible for producing and secreting thyroid hormone (thyroxine), which affects nearly all body systems. Insulinomas are actually malignant neoplasms that can form in your cat's pancreas. The beta cells that comprise insulinomas secrete excessive insulin. Cushing's Syndrome, also known as Hyperadrenocorticism, is caused by an excessive production of glucocorticoids, namely cortisol, by the adrenal gland. For information about these troubling kitty diseases and conditions we recommend that you consult with your vet.
Treating Feline Obesity
Depending on your cat's diagnosis, whether they're suffering from overeating or a more serious ailment will determine your cat's treatment plan. For cats who overeat, veterinary recommended treatment usually includes:
- Lowering your cat's daily caloric intake by changing her food (there are several diets formulated for weight loss) or the amount fed daily.
- Increasing fiber or water intake.
- Increasing exercise and activity. To enhance exercise, a variety toys are available to tempt your couch potato to get up and moving.
If you have more questions about the growing cat obesity epidemic, or if you would like to learn more about preventative steps you can take to ward off obesity, we urge you to visit our online archive. With over 10,000 vet approved articles, we're confident that we have the article you need to keep your cat healthy. Thick or thin, we love all cats the same.