Fat cats may look cute and cuddly, but they are not healthy cats. As obesity in humans rises, so has obesity in our pets. The biggest culprit is overfeeding, with unlimited access to high energy dry foods a key factor. There are a number of health conditions associated with obesity in cats:
Overweight cats are more likely to develop feline diabetes. If caught early, feline diabetes is curable with weight loss and dietary management. Feline diabetes is a difficult condition to manage long term as treatment requires twice daily insulin injections.
Carrying around extra weight places increased stress on joints. This can lead to painful early arthritis and joint damage
Coat matting/skin issues
Obese cats often cannot groom themselves as well as smaller cats. In long-haired animals this can lead to matting around the belly and rear end. Matting and dirty coats create an ideal environment for bacterial overgrowth and infection.
The bigger a cat gets, the lazier a cat becomes. It takes more effort for a fat cat to run around and play, so many obese animals will choose to sleep instead. There is nothing wrong with a sleepy cat- but activity and play are important for a cat’s mental health. Stimulated active cats are mentally healthier cats. Active cats are less prone to anxiety and anxiety related issues such as urinary tract disease, chronic vomiting, and bacterial/viral infections.
How Can I help my cat lose weight?
Weight loss should be very very slow in cats. Fat cats who lose weight rapidly are at risk of a deadly liver condition called hepatic lipidosis. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss your cat’s ideal weight and the best method to achieve this.
Dr. Bethany Richards
BVSC (Sydney University)