A fat cat with a shiny coat, lazily waddling from side to side makes many people feel affection and delight: “Oh, what a pretty pussy cat, it must be loved and cherished by its owner!” Fat cats and their slender female owners is a favorite subject for thousands of photographs posted on entertainment sites. Along with this cute photo gallery new sad stories about cats appear on forums: “neutering is dangerous”, “feed manufacturers should be judged”, “veterinarians are incompetent”, “my cat died of heart/liver/kidneys failure” and so on….
Do you still think fat cats are cute? Obesity in cats isn’t funny at all, it’s abnormal and dangerous. This is a serious condition that requires treatment and prevention.
How to define overweight in cats?
It's pretty simple to do: stroking an adult healthy animal you can easily feel its ribs, spine and shoulder blades. The layer of fat between the skin and muscles is thin; the stomach is either tucked in or makes nearly a straight line with the sternum (depending on the breed). Fat cats waddle because of their fat saggy belly; their ribs can’t be palpated, and the spine is barely detectable under the layer of fat. Excess fat is easy to detect touching the abdomen – in this area excess fat deposits are formed in the first place. Normally, there should be two little folds of loose skin. When the cat suffers from obesity, these folds resemble tight bags.
Why obesity is dangerous?
Obesity in cats is a factor that significantly reduces life span. Overweight always leads to poor health, affecting all organs and body functions. Cardiac, renal and pulmonary insufficiency, hypertension, fatty liver, diabetes, dysplasia, arthritis – here are just some examples caused by obesity. Furthermore, obesity in cats may cause complications during pregnancy and litter, reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and increases the risk of malignancies.
Causes of Obesity
There are three main reasons that lead to obesity: poor nutrition, low activity and chronic diseases.
Overfeeding pets is a habit of many people, as it is the easiest way of “showing their love and care”. No time to play with the cat or to stroke it, but it’s so easy to buy something delicious for the cat, isn’t it? Overeating leading to gastrectasia (increased size of the stomach) – that is why thick cats require more food. Furthermore, balance is also very important: the portion may be of normal size, but it may contain plenty of fat and poor protein that is difficult to be digested.
Sedentary lifestyle comes along with wrong feeding. Having compensated an active game with a piece of sausage owners rush to work. In the evening instead of some physical activity the cat gets another piece in its bowl and goes to sleep. Active kitten explore all the corners of the apartment and get tired of fruitless attempts to engage the owner in the game turns into lazybones.
Some diseases may also cause weight gain. Most often it is dysfunction of the endocrine glands. A thick kitten almost in 100% of cases suffers from such an illness, as in young age kittens are very active and have enough time to burn even a surplus of calories (even in the case of overfeeding). Adult animals sometimes are obese also because of illness. Therefore it is improper to choose a diet without prior visit to the vet. The first step is to exclude pathology. If the doctor diagnoses the disease, they will prescribe a specific treatment in addition to general measures.
How to achieve the ideal condition?
It is important to understand that fat cats won’t become slender in just a couple of weeks. Fat should be burned gradually so that the body had enough time to adapt to changes in body weight. Nowadays special attention is paid to single component diets that are not suitable for cats. Vegetable and fruit diet (complete exclusion of animal protein from the diet) may cause irreparable harm to your pet! Such a diet therapy may be used only in combination with the introduction of nutrient solutions under strict control of the vet (for treating some diseases, but not for weight loss).
Diet for cats with obesity can be developed after the examination of the animal. Here are some general recommendations: several varieties of lean meat, low-fat salt-water fish, raw cereals, dairy products, vegetable salads, vegetable oils and vitamins. All products must be easily digestible and of high quality in terms of nutritional value. You need to feed the cat with small portions three times a day. You can give food once a day, decreasing the usual dose by 25%. There are some ready-made diets for cats suffering from obesity available.
Lazy fat cat should remember how fun it was to catch mice and play with the birds (or to play with the toys you offer). However, you shouldn’t increase the physical activity dramatically. To begin with – you should spend about twenty minutes actively playing with your cat. Also, you need lots of interesting toys and a high “cat tree” for the cat to climb, in order to create necessary “infrastructure” for your pet where it can run, jump and play being alone at home. For this purpose you may use modern interactive toys that can inspire curious cat for hours of active game.
Make sure to keep track of the weight change weekly, reporting the results to the vet. It is desirable to pass blood tests bimonthly to monitor the general condition of your pet and to notice possible deficiency of a particular nutrient in the diet.