My cat is overweight, now what? You have noticed that your cat has packed on quite a few pounds. At first, it was not cause for concern, yet then you see he is having trouble jumping and climbing like he once did. Then you think, “Is my cat overweight?”.
Here, Innovet Pet Products dives into the subject of feline obesity. While healthy felines may come in different sizes, weight gain and obesity are common problems with cats. The APOP estimates that 60% of felines in the U.S. are overweight.
Trying to discover how to tell if your cat is overweight is a bit more complex than merely stepping onto the bathroom scale. There isn’t any “right” weight for a cat; the “normal” cat weight may range anywhere from 7 lbs. – 15 lbs., depending upon the body type and breed. On average, a small or medium cat ought to weigh 7 - 13 lbs. and a larger cat might be from 13 to 24 lbs.
Environmental factors, such as lack of exercise and overfeeding, usually are the most common cat weight gain causes. Pet owners will usually “free feed” their cat and will oftentimes spoil them with kitty treats. Indoor, domesticated cats don’t usually get as much exercise as outside cats, this may be because of a lack of entertaining toys or stimulation. Cats that aren’t social or who are frightened of strangers may spend more time hiding under the bed than being active, too.
But environmental factors aren’t always the cause. Diseases, medications, and medical conditions also may cause your pet to gain weight. Plus, as cats age, their metabolism slows and their levels of activity decrease. An older cat’s nutritional needs are different than younger felines, if you don’t change the type or amount of food you offer your pet as he gets older, that also can cause weight gain.
Feline obesity and excess weight may cause or exacerbate additional health issues; therefore, it is vital that you take your kitty to the veterinarian if you see that he has put on weight. Taking action to reverse or slow your pet’s weight gain will better his quality of life, as well as keep him around as your buddy for a lot longer.
Recognizing that a pet is overweight is step one to improving his health. Therefore, if you are wondering, “Is my cat obese?” read further to learn how to tell and which steps you should take.
How to Determine If You Have a Cat Overweight
How to tell if a long-haired cat is underweight? It may be a challenge on how to tell if your cat is a healthy weight, particularly if he’s a long-haired breed. Some felines are fluffier and stockier than others, also depending upon their breed. Here are some ways to tell if your cat is overweight.
How to Tell If My Cat Is Overweight: Assess the Cat from Above
As you stand above the cat, search for an hourglass figure. A feline at a healthy weight has a visible indentation between his ribcage and hips which creates a type of “waist.” If your pet’s sides instead bulge out, his waist is wider than his ribcage or hips, or you do not notice a defined waist, your pet might be overweight. It might be more challenging to tell if your pet has a waist if he’s fluffier. To check if your furry feline is obese, run your hands by the cat’s sides. If you do not feel an indentation, it might mean he should lose weight.
How to Tell If Cat Is Overweight: Look at the Kitty from the Side
Kitties at a healthy weight possess an “abdominal tuck.” The space right behind his ribcage ought to slow upwards somewhat towards the back legs, or, the space between his hind legs and ribcage ought to have a smaller diameter than the chest.
How to Tell If A Cat Is Overweight: Pay Close Attention to His Stomach
If you see a paunch on your pet’s stomach as you are examining him from the side, he might be overweight. Small paunches are normal; they’re actually referred to as primordial pouches and they protect the stomach within a fight and as felines stretch. Because the majority of cats possess a primordial pouch, it isn’t necessarily a sign of cat obesity. Your furry friend’s stomach primarily should be comprised of skin, and not fat. Therefore, if it seems like the paunch is getting fuller, hangs lower, or begins to sway side to side when he walks, these may be a sign of a weight issue. If your furry companion is otherwise boney and it’s possible to see his waist and abdominal tuck, yet he has a prominent paunch, he’s still probably at a suitable weight.
Feel the Cat’s Torso
It’s sometimes difficult to figure out whether the cat is overweight or not just from a visual assessment. If you still aren’t sure, delicately run the hands from his ribs, alongside his waist, and out towards the hips. You ought to feel an hourglass shape when you do this. A feline without much of a shape may be overweight.
Feel for His Rib cage
One other way you can tell if the cat is piling on too many pounds is by feeling the ribcage. Are you able to feel his ribs as you pet him? You ought to have the ability to feel his bones without a lot of effort. Generally, the padding within this region should feel similar to the back of the hand. If you cannot feel the cat’s ribs whatsoever or have to firmly press to make them out, the cat probably should lose a couple of pounds.
How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Overweight: Check Other Bony Regions
Likewise, your pet’s hips, spine, and shoulders ought to be somewhat bony, too. Pointy or highly visible bones might indicate that the cat actually is underweight. But, if your furry pal is at a suitable weight, you still should have the ability to feel the feline’s hip, spine, and shoulder bones when you pet him. If those spaces feel as if they have additionally padding, there is a good chance that the cat is obese.
Other Methods of Telling If You Have an Overweight Pet
Your pet’s size is not the only sign of whether he’s overweight or not. The cat’s behavior may change when he gets heavier. For example, he will become slower during activities, stop playing as much, sleep a lot more, as well as seem short of breath after any physical exercise. The cat even may seem grumpier than normal; which might be because he’s dealing with discomfort that has been exacerbated by the excess weight. If you have had to loosen his collar or purchase a larger one, that also is an indication that he has put some weight on.
If you attempt any of those approaches and you still aren’t sure if your pet is overweight, take him to see the vet. They will have the ability to perform a complete exam and accurately find if your pet is overweight.
Health Issues Related to Excess Weight
A couple of additional pounds might not seem like a lot, yet it ought to be taken seriously. Excessive weight may lead to a variety of health issues, which includes feline arthritis, diabetes, joint pain, and a shorter span of life. Obesity also is related to chronic inflammation in felines. Overweight cats also can develop elevated blood pressure, which places an extra burden on their hearts.
Within some instances, overeating might be a result of depression, stress, or anxiety. This may create a cycle which leads to your pet gaining more weight and possibly becoming obese.
Overweight cats might stop being involved in “normal” activities, such as socializing, playing, or properly grooming himself. This might trigger further medical issues like ear or skin infections, feline urinary tract infections, parasites, and depression.
Helping Your Pet Lose Weight
If you believe your cat is obese, it is better to take him to a vet to ensure that he does not have any underlying clinical issues. The vet might suggest different kinds of food or to add nutritional supplements to his diet. They also may give you a weight loss strategy that is custom-made to your pet’s medical needs and history.
As with people, weight loss boils down to a couple of things: physical activity and eating. Thankfully, those are things you are in control of; therefore, it’s possible to take charge in helping him return to a healthy weight. Below we list some ways to assist your overweight pet.
Change His Food
The first thing you ought to do if your feline is overweight is change his diet. Generally, try to feed him a high-protein diet and stay away from foods with fillers or corn as the label’s initial ingredients. One healthier choice will list a vegetable or meat first. If you’re able to replace his dry food with canned, wet food, you will have the ability to provide him more protein and less carbs and fat per calorie. Depending upon how much weight the feline has to lose, the vet might suggest a unique prescription diet. Remember that the cat might not initially like his new dog food, yet stick to it, he eventually will adjust and appreciate the new taste. Also, it helps to keep his unhealthy, old food out of reach and away; if he’s able to smell it, it will take him longer to accept the new diet and he’ll continuously bug you for the familiar dog food. It’s always possible to ask the vet for certain food products which provide optimal feline nutrition.
Establish Distinct Eating Times for the Cat
It’s possible to trim the quantity of calories the cat eats in a day by eliminating the use of free feeding. As you leave dry cat food out for your pet to graze and consume as he pleases, inevitably, he’ll eat more than is needed. Offering him canned food assists in setting distinct eating times and permits you to control the cat’s portion size. If you stick to dry food, just make it available to the cat a couple of times a day.
Slowly Cut Back on Food
You might want to thoroughly cut back on the quantity of food your feeding the cat right away yet doing so actually can be very detrimental to his health. Barely eating or not eating may cause a severe form of cat liver disease. While making changes to your pet’s diet, slowly transition and offer him time to grow accustomed to the new food.
Reduce the Quantity of Treats You Provide Him
Why is my cat overweight? Most cat owners unconsciously reach for cat treats as a method of spoiling or rewarding their pet. Snacks and treats throughout the day may be a major culprit of weight gain. Swap your pet’s usual treats for diet or low-calorie treats instead. Cats also can benefit from additional rewards, like quality playtime with you and belly rubs.
Eliminate Table Scraps
People food is not specifically designed for cats, meaning it negatively can affect their digestive system; it also can cause cat diarrhea, vomiting, weight gain or appetite loss. There are some food sources cats have the ability to consume without any problem, yet to remain on the safe side, cut out all table scraps. If you frequently are tempted to give your pet a nibble off of your plate, place him inside another room until you are finished eating.
Increase His Activity
Felines do not require a lot of exercise to remain healthy. The quantity of exercise your pet requires will depend on his breed and age. The majority of vets suggest 2 (15-minute) sessions of activity every day. Typically, cats are most active during sunset and sunrise; therefore, take advantage of that energy then play with your cat during those times. Playtime not just assists your cat in burning calories, yet it also keeps the cat entertained and keeps his attention, so he does not turn to eating because he’s bored. Also, you can purchase a harness and walk the cat on a leash.
Purchase A Cat Toy that Encourages Playtime
One easy way to boost your pet’s activity is by buying toys which encourage him. Laser pointers, “fishing poles” and rattling toys may stimulate them enough to run, pounce, jump around, and chase. A cat tunnel and cat tree also are great ways for felines to get a bit of exercise; it’ll give your pet the chance for active playtime, such as jumping, climbing, and running.
Even if you are implementing the tactics above, it’ll probably take time for the cat to lose weight. If you do not see any changes after a few months, arrange an appointment with the vet. They’ll have the ability to test for any underlying clinical problems and assist you in figuring out the possible cause for the cat’s obesity or excessive weight. The vet also will have the ability to assist you in creating a weight loss routine that’s both effective and safe.
If your cat is tipping the scale, there are some things to do today to get them on a healthier journey. As always, speak to a vet before you make any extreme diet changes.
Feed More Frequent, Smaller Portions
Rather than free feeding, try and feed the cat 2 - 5 small meals per day. The majority of house cats these days are bred to digest kitty food well; therefore, commercial wet and dry food ought to suffice, yet without an all-you-can-eat buffet available, smaller portions all throughout the day help your cat’s metabolism and digestion.
Concentrate on the Protein
Before you buy cat food, browse its ingredients. If a grain, like corn, is listed as its first ingredient, it may not be the best option for your cat. Corn is a less expensive filler that many food manufacturers use to slash costs.
Try to instead purchase foods which are rich in protein and emphasize that they’re grain-free or low-grain. Usually, wet food is greater in protein, which might be an excellent choice for your feline. Some pros even suggest a fully raw diet yet speak with your veterinarian before you implement this change.
Provide Healthier Snacks
Rather than turning to the consumer snacks which are discovered in all pet food stores, think about providing your feline high-protein, healthy treats such as bits of fish or chicken. The majority of pet shops even offer freeze dried treats that typically have just a single ingredient — meat. Those snacks still will make your cat happy yet are a healthier option.
Integrate More Exercise
Inside cats are at a greater risk of obesity because generally they receive less exercise than outside cats. Be certain to give the cat at least fifteen minutes of play time per day and try and integrate high-energy moves. Get them jumping and obese cat running around to burn some calories!
At the end of a day, cats gain weight by eating more calories than they actually burn. In leaning out the cat’s diet and ensuring that they receive sufficient exercise, it’s possible to get them on the proper track. Call the vet for more details on how you can optimize your feline’s healthy lifestyle.
Sources:Obesity in Cats
Cat Dieting: How to Help Your Cat Lose Weight
Obesity in Cats
Cannabidiol Promotes Browning in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes
Owner and Cat-Related Risk Factors for Feline Overweight or Obesity
Overweight In Adult Cats: A Cross-Sectional Study