What is Obesity in Cats?
What is it?
How is it Treated?
There are no specific breeds predisposed to obesity in cats. However, indoor cats and those with a sedentary lifestyle are at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese.
Sophie had always adored her cuddly, affectionate tabby cat, Mr. Whiskers. Over the years, she had come to think of his round belly and ample figure as just part of his charm. However, during a routine check-up at the veterinarian’s office, she was surprised to learn that Mr. Whiskers was actually considered obese. The vet explained the potential health risks associated with feline obesity, and Sophie realized she needed to make changes to ensure her beloved pet’s well-being.
Obesity in cats is when a cat becomes overweight due to eating too many calories. This happens because cats naturally eat twice as many calories daily as dogs. Obesity is usually defined as a body fat percentage (BF%) greater than 30%, and lean cats should be between 10%-30%.
Cats need at least 15% protein, 20% fat, and 40% carbohydrates to maintain proper weight. In addition, they require these nutrients to keep lean muscle mass and bone density healthy.
If your cat eats too many calories, he may gain weight and become obese. As a result, he may also develop diabetes mellitus (DM), heart disease, arthritis, kidney problems, urinary tract infections, skin conditions, dental issues, and cancer.
A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that cats who carry excess weight are less likely to survive into old age. They also tend to have shorter lifespans than those who don’t gain extra weight.
Cats who carry too much weight may experience muscle atrophy and weakness, leading to decreased mobility and increased risk of injury. This can cause chronic pain and discomfort. If you notice your cat carrying too much weight, talk to your vet about ways to help him lose it.
What is the Normal Weight for Cats?
Normal-weight cats vary depending on breed. The ideal body weight for adult domestic shorthair cats ranges from 2.5 kg (5 lb) to 3.2 kg (7 lb). This range includes purebred cats, except Siamese, Himalayan, Maine Coon, Russian Blue, Persian, Exotic Shorthairs, and American Curl.
Breed-specific recommendations for ideal cat weights vary widely. Some recommend a minimum of 1.8 kg (4 lb), while others suggest up to 4.0 kg (9 lb). However, most experts agree that overweight or obese cats should never weigh over 5.5 kg (12 lb).
Health Risks Factors in Obesity
The risk of obesity is associated with several health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis, and sleep apnea. In addition to physical health issues, people who are obese tend to experience emotional distress, including depression and social isolation.
A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that being overweight or obese increased the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, asthma, and arthritis. Other studies have shown that obese cats are at greater risk of becoming overweight adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of obesity estimates that about one-third of American adults are obese. In addition, a recent report from the CDC showed that nearly half of Americans are either obese or overweight.
What Causes Cats to Become Obese?
Cats are built for running, leaping, and hunting. Therefore, they typically gain excess weight when consuming more calories than they expend. However, certain types of cats are more susceptible to weight gain than others, including neutered males, older cats, indoor cats with decreased opportunities for activity, and cats fed diets high in fat and protein.
Cats have been known to get obese due to many factors, including genetics, diet, environment, age, stress, illness, and pregnancy.
- Genetics – Some breeds are more prone to obesity than others. For example, Siamese cats are often very heavy and more likely to be overweight. Other breeds include Maine Coons, Persians, and Sphynxes.
- Diet – The type of food you feed your cat will determine whether or not he gains weight. Some foods contain high amounts of calories, while other foods are low-calorie options. Talk with your veterinarian about which diets are best for your cat.
- Environment – Your cat’s environment determines if he becomes overweight. He may be able to exercise more when he lives in a large home with plenty of room to roam. However, some environments may make it difficult for your cat to burn off all the calories he consumes.
- Age – As your cat ages, he may start gaining weight because he doesn’t move as fast or jump as high as he used to. Also, older cats may eat more than younger ones.
- Stress – Your cat may become stressed by living in a new place or moving from one household to another. Pressure can increase appetite and cause your cat to overeat.
- Illness – If your cat is sick, he may need special care to recover. This could mean eating fewer calories so he can heal faster. In addition, certain medications prescribed for your cat may affect how much he eats.
- Pregnancy – A pregnant female cat may consume more calories than usual to support her growing fetus. She may also stop exercising and eat more to keep up with her baby.
Symptoms of Obesity in Cats
You should check your cat’s weight every month. You can weigh your cat simultaneously each day using a digital scale. Be sure to use the same scale each time.
Several signs indicate that your cat may be suffering from obesity. You should consult your vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
- Excessive Fat Around the Waistline
Excess fat around the waist indicates that your cat carries too much weight. Cats tend to store fat around the belly area, so if your cat seems heavier around his middle, he probably has a problem with his weight.
This condition is called abdominal obesity. Abdominal obesity occurs when the amount of fat stored in the abdomen exceeds the amount needed to sustain life.
- Unhealthy Haircoat
An unhealthy hair coat is another sign that your cat is suffering from obesity. An unhealthy hair coat is characterized by greasy fur and mats.
Your cat may have developed a bacterial infection, which causes him to produce excessive amounts of sebum. Sebum is a fatty substance produced by the skin glands that helps protect against bacteria.
When the amount of sebum becomes excessive, it clogs the skin’s pores, causing the hair to appear oily.
- Poor Conditioned Coat
A poorly conditioned coat is another symptom of feline obesity. Poorly conditioned skin is characterized by dull, dry fur.
Poorly conditioned coats are usually associated with a lack of grooming. For example, cats groom themselves daily to remove dead cells and dirt from their skins.
If your cat grooms himself regularly, he may develop a clear coat. On the other hand, dirty coats should be more appealing and dirty.
- Lack of Exercise
Finally, lack of exercise is yet another symptom of feline overindulgence. Overweight cats are prone to developing arthritis and joint problems.
Overweight cats are often inactive and tend to eat more, causing obesity. As a result, they may become lethargic and lose interest in playing and interacting with people. As a result, they may spend more time sleeping and less time engaging in activities like eating, drinking, grooming themselves, and exploring their surroundings.
They also have diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure, and liver disease. These conditions are expected in overweight cats. In addition, fat cats are more susceptible to infections such as gingivitis and periodontitis. These diseases cause inflammation of the gum tissue and teeth.
- Other Symptoms
Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. Vomiting is a common symptom of feline obesity, especially when the stomach is full. Diarrhea is also a common symptom of fattening diets.
Difficulty breathing is often seen in older cats. In addition, older cats often struggle to breathe due to lung damage caused by secondhand smoke.
Risk Factors for Overweight Felines
Obesity increases the risks of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, arthritis, and sleep apnea. It also makes it harder for your cat to exercise and play.
- Diabetes – Obesity is a common problem among cats today, and diabetes is another condition that affects them. Diabetes causes blood sugar levels to become too high. High blood sugar levels can lead to other health problems, including kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, heart disease, stroke, and death.
- Cardiovascular Disease – Obese cats are more likely to develop heart disease. Obese cats can experience high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and cholesterol increase the chances of stroke or heart attack.
- Sleep Apnea – One of the most significant risks associated with pet obesity is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when a dog stops breathing while sleeping. When this happens, oxygen levels drop, and carbon dioxide builds up in the body. Over time, this buildup causes damage to organs, including the heart and brain.
- Arthritis – A risk factor for obesity in cats are likely to suffer from joint pain and stiffness. Arthritis affects both small and large joints and connective tissue.
- Other Risks Factors for Felines Obesity
Obesity is associated with an increased risk of stroke, respiratory diseases, dental disorders, and reproductive disorders.
Diagnosis in Felines Obesity
Diagnosing obesity in cats requires a thorough physical examination. The veterinarian should look at the cat’s weight, size, shape, coat condition, and overall appearance. In addition, they should check for any signs of illness or injury.
A blood test may be done if there are concerns about the cat’s health. Blood tests include measuring cholesterol levels, checking thyroid function, and testing for parasites. For example, if the cat has been eating poorly, it may have low protein levels in the urine.
An x-ray may be taken to see if the cat has bone abnormalities. An ultrasound may determine whether the cat has fluid around the kidneys.
The vet may recommend dietary changes if the cat seems healthy but still weighs too much. These could involve adding extra calories to the diet or reducing the amount of food eaten. In addition, weight loss surgery may be recommended if the cat cannot lose weight without medical intervention.
Treatment of Obesity and Prevention in Felines
There are several ways to treat obesity in cats. Some include feline weight loss diets, exercise programs, medication, surgery, and behavioral modification.
Weight Loss Diet
Weight loss diets for cats are designed to reduce the amount of food eaten by overweight cats. For cats that need to lose 3 kg (6.6 lb) of their current total mass, a loss rate of 0.5%-2.0 percent per week is recommended, resulting in an estimated time frame of 24–60 months. A cat’s weight loss diet should be based on a balanced nutrition plan.
The cat’s age, breed, and activity level should be considered when choosing a weight-loss diet for cats. Weight loss diets for dogs are similar to those for cats, but they usually have fewer calories and less fat. In addition, they often contain carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and water.
These diets may also include vitamins, minerals, and supplements to promote healthy digestion and metabolism. In addition, some cat weight loss diets contain ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and antioxidants.
Weight Loss Program
A weight loss program for cats can involve changing their diet to high-quality, low-calorie foods. A healthy diet should consist of mostly water, fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meat or poultry, and a few cooked grains or starches. Cats also need plenty of exercises, a 30-minute walk daily to achieve their ideal weight.
Nutrition and Weight Management
A diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates is essential for a weight management program in cats. Not all fat sources are bad for cats; oils like salmon or macadamia nut oil can be included in their diet if used judiciously. Cats should always have access to fresh water while on a weight management regimen.
You can encourage your cat to exercise by playing fetch with him, taking him outside for walks, or giving him toys that require him to move around. Most indoor cats spend most of their time sitting still, so getting them moving will make them feel better.
Regular physical activity helps reduce stress levels, improve muscle tone and bone density, reduce weight gain, and promote good health.
It also helps cats burn calories and maintain a healthy weight.
An excellent way to do this is to provide your pet with plenty of opportunities to play.
Place food inside feeding balls to increase motivation. Feeding balls are small toys filled with treats.
Your cat will enjoy playing fetch with them while you watch. You can use them as a reward for scratching posts or climbing stairs.
Playtime will keep your cat busy and active.
When your cat plays, he burns energy. If your cat spends too much time indoors, he won’t get enough physical activity. Make sure your cat gets some outdoor time every day. Take him outside for short walks, or let him chase birds and squirrels around the yard.
Medications for obesity in cats include appetite suppressants, weight loss pills, and diet supplements. The most common medications are appetite suppressants such as phentermine, fenfluramine, dexfenfluramine, sibutramine, mazindol, and rimonabant. In addition, weight loss drugs like orlistat and lorcaserin may also be prescribed.
Weight loss pills suppress your appetite, causing you to eat less food. They usually contain amphetamine derivatives like phentermine, fadrozole, and phendimetrazine. These drugs have been banned in some countries because they cause heart problems.
Diet supplements such as green tea extract and chromium picolinate can increase metabolism and burn fat. In addition, some products claim to reduce cholesterol levels, but there is no evidence that these claims are valid.
Cats severely overweight may need to undergo surgery to remove fat deposits. The procedure involves removing the extra fat tissue through a small incision on the belly.
Two procedures are available if you decide to proceed with the surgery. One involves removing excess tissue (fat) from your cat’s abdomen. The other consists in reducing the size of your cat’s stomach. Both surgeries are performed under general anesthesia.
In the first gastric bypass procedure, surgeons remove a portion of your cat’s stomach and connect it directly to their small intestine. Then, they attach a tube to the new connection to drain any extra fluid and nutrients. Afterward, your veterinarian removes some of your cat’s abdominal fat.
In the second gastric banding procedure, surgeons make incisions in your cat’s belly and place a silicone ring inside their stomach. The ring restricts how much food your cat can eat in one sitting. Your vet then attaches a tube to the call to drain away extra fluids and nutrients.
Both procedures require your cat to stay overnight in the hospital after the surgery. In addition, they must take antibiotics before and after the operation. Recovery takes anywhere from three days to six weeks.
After surgery, your cat should start losing weight immediately. However, they may experience diarrhea and vomiting during recovery. These symptoms usually subside within a few days.
Some owners try to change their cat’s behavior to reduce the amount he eats. For example, they might put a bell on his collar to tell him when it’s feeding time. They may also teach him to “sit” before meals instead of waiting until after.
However, this approach only sometimes works. For example, if your cat has an eating disorder, behavioral modification won’t help. In addition, if your cat is obese, he will probably continue to overeat even if you don’t feed him.
We are Maintaining Optimal Conditions after Treatment.
Weight loss in cats can take up to six months rather than just weeks. Your veterinarian can help determine whether your cat needs to lose weight. You can also ask your veterinarian for safe ways to help your cat lose weight.
Cats naturally prefer lean meats over fatty ones, but when given access to a buffet table, they tend to gorge themselves on fatty foods. To help control this behavior, limit your cat’s caloric intake to between 20% and 30% of its body weight.
If your cat weighs 10 pounds, feed him no more than 2 cups of dry food daily. Feeding too much food may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach ulcers.
To keep track of your cat’s calorie consumption, weigh her daily and divide the number of calories she consumes by the number of days since her last weighing.
Then multiply the result by 0.2 (20%) or 0.3 (30%). The resulting figure represents the calories your cat should consume daily.
You can also use a commercial diet supplement for weight loss. These products typically contain vitamins and minerals along with ingredients that promote healthy digestion.
Exercising and Playtime
Your cat will lose weight more quickly if they get plenty of exercise. Exercise helps your cat burn calories and reduces stress. It also strengthens muscles and bones.
Playtime is essential for keeping your cat active and mentally stimulated. It should be scheduled during the day rather than at night. Your cat needs to burn off excess energy after eating.
Try playing fetch with your cat. Fetch toys are great for exercising your cat’s muscles and helping them stay fit. Give your cat treats occasionally. Treats aren’t necessary, but they’re an excellent reward for your cat’s good behavior.
Your cat may become obese because they are stressed out. Stressful situations include moving into a new home, being separated from family members, or having an illness. To reduce stress, give your cat lots of attention and affection. Also, keep your cat indoors so they don’t have to deal with traffic or loud noises.
How to Adjust Your Cat’s Meals to Help Him Lose Weight?
Once you have identified that your pet is overweight or obese, there are several steps you can take to start losing weight safely and effectively. First, it is essential to understand how much weight your cat needs to shed to achieve his ideal body composition.
You can use one of the many online calculators to estimate your cat’s ideal body mass index (BMI). Then, once you know what percentage of excess weight he needs to lose, you can begin adjusting his meals.
There are scientifically formulated nutritional products designed specifically for cats with obesity problems. These include Hills® Prescription Diet Metabolic, Royal Canin® SATIETY SUPPORT WEIGHT MANAGEMENT, and Purina Overweight management®. However, decreasing the amount of food your cat eats is inappropriate.
This will cause malnutrition over time. Instead, selecting a nutritional product with a lower calorie density is appropriate and necessary, yet it maintains the proper nutrient balance. Your veterinarian can help you identify the most suitable dietary products for your cat.
Once the new food has been chosen, and the unused portions are established, you must remain consistent with feeding – bits, meal frequency, and snack times – and resist the urge to provide inappropriate snacking.
If your cat eats less daily, try offering additional treats before bedtime. Also, make sure that your cat gets plenty of exercises. For example, regular walks around the neighborhood or playing fetch with toys will keep him active and burn calories.
Frequently Asked Questions
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