As cat parents, it’s our duty to ensure our feline friends enjoy their nine lives as comfortable and happy as possible. We try to give them the best treats, the scrumptious cat foods possible, and the comfiest beds our money can buy.

However, this kind of treatment may actually be putting their health in danger. Cat obesity is spreading around the world. In 2016, 63% of cats across the globe are diagnosed as obese.

Obese Cat

If you want to avoid your cat being a part of this number, it’s time to make the move! Start with this short guide to learn about cat obesity, and how you can control your cat’s weight before it worsens.

Signs Your Cat is Obese

Just because your cat looks fluffy doesn’t automatically categorize here as obese. Some breeds are just born that way. To tell whether your cat is over the ideal weight, diagnosis is important.

Palpating a cat is the best way to initially examine your cat for signs of obesity. Here are the signs you should watch out for:

  • You can’t feel her ribs immediately when stroking the sides
  • Bulgy tail
  • Unnoticeable waist when looking at your cat on top view, or a noticeable bulge on the side
  • Belly pouch swinging between your cat’s hind legs

If you’ve checked for these signs and you’re still unsure, better consult your vet. They will perform a professional body condition assessment on your cat for a more comprehensive diagnosis.

The Risks of Cat Obesity

Cat Obesity Risks

If your cat’s weight reaches beyond the ideal weight for their breed, expect serious medical conditions to appear, such as:

  • Weight loss is not an overnight magic.Problems in their joints, tendons, and ligaments, such as arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • Urinary tract issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 Diabetes (this is the most common in obese cats, according to Dr. Jacquie Rand and Dr. Rhett Marshall)
  • Constipation problems
  • Chest and breathing problems

Your cat can also develop anxiety or depression when s/he becomes obese. To “overcome” this feeling, your cat may tend to overeat. This is called Bridget Jones syndrome.

Causes of Cat Obesity

Causes of Cat Obesity

The most common contributor to your cat’s obesity is the imbalance between the calories she consumes and her calorie-burning activities. A cat’s body is the same as humans’ in terms of calorie consumption. When they consume more calories than they burn every day, these will turn into stored fats.

Free feeding is also a common culprit. Some cat parents keep refilling their cat’s food bowl whenever they see it empty. In turn, they can’t monitor their calorie consumption anymore. The cat gets addicted to eating that they prefer to wait for food all the time instead of doing physical activities.

Poor diet can cause cat obesity too. Some cat food manufacturers might be adding more carbohydrates to their products than the recommended amount. Check the label first!

If your cat is under medication, their meds could also be contributors to their weight gain. Consult your vet and ask if they can prescribe you with an alternative.

Male cats who’ve been neutered are more prone to gaining more weight than female cats too. Their metabolic rate is affected by the treatment, so they burn calories slower.

Certain medical conditions can also cause cat obesity too, like:

  • Insulinoma or pancreatic cancer
  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Hyperthyroidism

Senior cats also gain weight faster because their metabolism rate is slowing down. They don’t have the energy for physical activities too, so they store more fats as they age.

How to Keep Your Cat Obesity at Bay

It’s time to bring your cat back to shape! Here are 5 ways you can try to control your cat’s obesity:

Consult your vet for diet recommendations

As cat parents, it’s our duty to ensure our feline friends enjoy their nine lives as comfortable and happy as possible. We try to give them the best treats, the scrumptious cat foods possible, and the comfiest beds our money can buy.

However, this kind of treatment may actually be putting their health in danger. Cat obesity is spreading around the world

To be safe and sure, consult your vet for recommendations. Based on your cat’s breed, behavior, and lifestyle, your vet can suggest new brands you can try, as well as feeding schedule and activity recommendations.

Your vet can also prescribe you new medications for your sick cat. If you’ve tried all recommended lifestyle and diet changes, consult your vet for possible medical issues.

Change your cat’s diet slowly

The ideal cat’s ideal is composed of high protein, low carbohydrates, and low fats. Anything that goes beyond or lower than this formula will result in your cat gaining (or losing) weight rapidly. You can consult your vet for a brand recommendation.

There are also plenty of cat blogs out there in addition to All Our Paws, like Purrfect N’ Pawesome providing cat food guides for cat parents like you.

One thing to remember is to implement this change in your cat’s diet slowly. Your cats are smart. They’ll notice when you make any changes to their food, especially if you’re replacing their favorite brand.

To successfully introduce a new cat food, replace her current food with the new one little by little. On the first day, replace 25% of the current food with the new brand.

You can ramp up the new food transition by 5% or more every day. Do this for one week or so until your cat is eating the new brand completely.

Tip: Buy a new cat food with the same or almost-the-same flavor or recipe as your cat’s current food. Some cat food manufacturers have recommendations for switching cat foods, so be sure if your chosen brand has some.

Also, a gentle reminder to avoid putting your cat on a crash diet. Your cat will be at risk for hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver. Let the crash diet stay with the humans.

Stick with your new feeding schedule.

Remember, free-feeding is a no-no. Your new cat food won’t work if you still free feed your feline friend. If your cat is an overeater, you’ll be urged to replace her food bowl more than you intend to.

To keep your cat’s calorie consumption in check, set a feeding recommendation, and stick with it. Three to six times a day is a good feeding frequency to start with. You can also buy a feeder with a timer and set the refilling schedule ahead.

Improve your cat’s environment to encourage him/her to burn more calories

Cat Activities

Help your cat find the motivation to get moving by revamping her “playground.” Buy some cat tease, toy mouse, and other interactive toys and place them around her area.

If your cat’s not afraid of socializing, you can buy a cat leash and take her for a walk outside. A good five minutes walk a day would suffice. Just make sure there are no crazy dogs or other animals roaming around that could scare your cat.

You can install fences and gates around a small area in your porch or patio to transform it into a playground area for your cat. The stairs work as a good exercise area too.

Have separate feeding areas for your cats.

If you’ve got multiple cats at home, dedicate separate feeding areas for your chunky cat. Place her bowl on the other side of the door, or set a different feeding schedule and keep your obese cat away from the other cats while they’re eating. This prevents her from being tempted to munch on your other cats’ food bowls.

Weight loss is not an overnight magic.

It requires discipline and consistency, mostly on your part. If you stick to healthy eating and exercising routine for your cat, then you’re treading the right path!

When in doubt, never hesitate to pay your vet a visit. They’re the best support YOU can get to keep your cat healthy and happy.