Is your Cat Overweight?

How to help your cat if it is overweight

Your cat may become overweight for a variety of reasons:

As your cat becomes older they will be less active and require fewer calories Neutered or spayed cats often have a slower metabolism Medical problems can often be a contributor to weight gain. Overzealous treating throughout the day is an easy way of adding calories to your cat’s diet Lack of outdoor activity can encourage weight gain, particularly for indoor cats Free feeding or having food available all the time will encourage overeating and laziness

Obesity in Cats
Obesity in Cats

How do I know if my cat is overweight?

If you suspect that your cat is overweight then you should seek veterinary advice, this will help ensure that you have the most appropriate weight loss plan for your cat.

You can check your cat’s weight on regular weighing scales in order to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. The following signs will give you an indication of whether or not your cat is at a healthy weight.

Face

A round face with large cheeks is a good indicator that your cat could have a weight problem. 

Neck

Being required to loosen your cat’s collar is a sure sign of weight gain, and you should carefully monitor your cat’s weight at any changes in collar size.

Tummy

Your cat’s tummy should be lean, and should not sag or sway from side-to-side when walking.

Ribs

Your cat’s ribs should be slightly visible and easy to feel (particularly on short-hair breeds) if they are invisible and difficult to feel then your cat is most likely overweight. It's also good to note that protruding ribs with little skin tissue in between is a sign of your cat being underweight.

Preventing your cat from gaining weight

Preventing cat obesity is a cat owner’s responsibility that should be treated seriously. If it is mismanaged it can lead to health problems for your cat such as diabetes, urinary tract problems, constipation and osteoarthritis.

Behavioural changes

As your cat becomes overweight they may demonstrate signs of lethargy or tiredness, such as slow movement and difficulty walking. They can also start to hesitate before doing a physical activity such as jumping onto furniture.

Preventing cat obesity

Like humans, preventing obesity can be achieved by encouraging a healthy lifestyle with a well-balanced formula. Here are a few tips to help you manage your cat’s waistline: Aging Cats – Choose a life stage food Unfortunately controlling the sand of time is not a feasible option, and as your cat ages they will become older, less active and require fewer calories. One way you can help manage this is by choosing a life stage diet. A number of cat food brands provide life stage products, which help provide the right nutrients, and calorie levels which are tailored to the key feline life stages; kitten, adult and senior cat.

Treats or no treats?

Treating your cat can be a rewarding experience for both cat and owner, but overzealous treating can lead to weight problems. You may want to reduce or cut out treats all together for a period of time if your cat is overweight. If you still would like to treat your cat, why not consider purchasing a treat maze to make treat time more interactive.

Easy feeding 

Cats are natural hunters, and if you frequently leave food in your cat’s bowl this can make your cat lazy as they don’t need to find food any more. Why not unleash their hunter’s instinct and make mealtimes more interesting. Simple tricks such as placing food at the top of the stairs, or moving it on to a countertop in the middle of feeding can make feeding times a little more active.

Switch to a lighter food  

If your cat is showing signs of gaining weight, you may want to switch to lighter food. Many cat food brands provide a specially formulated lighter variant of their food. These are lower in calories but contain all the essential nutrients to keep your cat healthy. If you are currently feeding your cat a veterinary recommended diet then you should speak to your vet before you make any changes to their diet.

The great outdoors

If your cat is fortunate to have outdoor space, then you should remove any barriers that may prevent your cat from going outside. If you open your door to let your cat out, then you may wish to install a cat flap. The more sophisticated cat flaps have microchip unlocking, so only your cat can enter your house, plus some have the options of your cat in or out.

Cat toys

Keep your cat active by increasing your cat’s activity which will help burn more calories. This is particularly important if you have an indoor cat with limited or no access to outdoor space. - Daily playtime with your cat is a rewarding way of improving your cat’s fitness. Chase toys and teaser toys are a great way of doing this. Introducing climbing towers or cat scratchers into your home will encourage more physical exercise while your cat is indoors. - Why not incorporate your cat’s exercise with your own regime. Tie a laser chaser to your wrist or dumbbells and your cat will love running around trying to catch the light whilst you work out.

Avoid any diets 

Crash diets are very dangerous and your cat can get very sick if they lose weight too quickly. This is due to a reduction in minerals and vitamins which can lead to Hepatic Lipidosis - a fatal liver condition - often caused by food restriction. Any weight-loss plan should be slow and gradual taking months rather than weeks. You should always contact your vet if you are looking to make significant changes to your cat’s diet.