Springbrook_iStock_000022062805_MediumIn this country our pets are getting fatter and fatter with no end in sight. While many of us giggle and gush over fluffy, well-padded kitties; being obese is not good for anyone – animals included.

Cats who are overweight are at increased risk for serious medical problems including diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, and even cancer. No wonder that overweight felines live shorter lives than other cats.

Weight loss doesn’t come easily, so it is important to keep sight of why helping our pets to maintain an ideal body weight is so vital. With a little work, however, it is possible to combat feline obesity and keep our cat companions healthier and happier.

How to Tell If Your Cat is Fat

Now that you know that being fat isn’t funny or cute, you are probably wondering how to tell if your cat is overweight. With about 58% of cats in the United States weighing in at overweight or obese, chances are that your feline friend could stand to lose a few pounds.

A cat who is at an ideal weight should:

  • Have visible bone structure in his or her face
  • Have a neck that is easily distinguished from the body when viewed from above
  • Not have a fatty pad on the belly (there may be some loose skin)
  • Have a noticeable waist when viewed from above
  • Have ribs that are felt fairly easily when you pet him or her

If you are a visual person, take a peek at a body condition scoring chart to see how your pet stacks up. We are happy to counsel you as to your pet’s ideal weight and get you started on a weight loss plan, if needed.

Combating Feline Obesity

The formula for combating feline obesity itself isn’t difficult. In order to lose weight we must eat fewer calories and burn more. Sometimes the execution of this plan can be a little difficult, though. Safe, effective feline weight management is possible though. Be sure to:

Cut the calories – While this sounds easy, many pet owners have a hard time with this one. Be sure to speak with us before starting kitty on a diet, as fat cats are prone to developing serious liver problems (hepatic lipidosis) if they don’t eat enough. Weight loss must be slow and steady. We will help you to figure out how many calories your cat needs per day. It is important to measure out portions and avoid self-feeders. If you have more than one cat you may need to feed them separately. If you have a beggar for a cat, you may need to distract him or her with play or affection and feed small meals more frequently. Little changes make a big difference for overweight cats.

Change the diet – Sometimes a simple diet change can go a long way. Some cats do better on canned vs. dry food or on a light or diet version of their food. Prescription diets may be necessary for cats with an exceptionally stubborn metabolism. Always make changes slowly, cats are not known to like change.

Get kitty moving – Exercise is important for cats. Most of our household cats are couch potatoes, so pet owners need to get creative. Make your cat “hunt” by hiding food around the house or moving the feeding station far away from your cat’s normal sleeping spots. Encourage activity by using interactive toys like flashlights, laser pointers, paper bags, or fishing pole-type toys to get your kitty moving. Change up the routine and make a point to “work out” with your cat at least 15 minutes a day.

Chart your progress – When you only weigh a few pounds to start with, ounces matter. Frequent rechecks and weigh-ins are important to chart progress and keep you on track. Being sure to document even the smallest of losses to keep up your motivation.

We love cats just as much as the next person, but we prefer them to be healthy over fat. If you need some guidance in helping your cat lose weight or maintain an ideal one, The Pet Experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center are here to help.