With today being National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, it’s important to stop and recognize the importance of this often overlooked holiday. Considering that an estimated 58% of cats in the United States meet the criteria for obesity, American pet owners are in dire need of changing their cat’s daily exercise and eating habits if they want them to remain healthy and live long, happy lives. But in order to address these issues, there must be a better understanding of why so many cats (and dogs) are so susceptible to unhealthy weight gain in the first place.
Healthy Weights for Cats
The ideal weight for your cat varies depending on what type of cat it is, but the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has a very handy scale that can help you decide where your adult cat sits. According to their scale, a domestic cat’s ideal weight is 8-10 lbs., a Persian cat’s ideal weight is 7-12 lbs., a Siamese cat’s ideal weight is 5-10 lbs., and a Maine Coon’s ideal weight is 10-25 lbs. Of course, this information varies slightly depending on what source you’re getting it from, but these are good ranges to aim for.
Common Reasons For Overweight Cats
Just like with humans, there are a number of factors that contribute to the country’s overabundance of obese cats. Some of these factors are relatively obvious, while others are a bit less so. Of course, prolonged inactivity and easy access to food make cat weight loss difficult, and these issues are even more troublesome for indoor cats who aren’t exploring and hunting to burn off excess calories.
But did you also know that cats, just like humans, have the tendency to eat more when they’re stressed or anxious? It’s true! Other less obvious causes include illnesses such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease and diabetes. Stomach swelling and inflammation can also occur as a result of internal parasites, while fluid retention can lead to obesity in rare cases as a result of a heart condition or tumor. Finally, there’s a cause of weight gain that often serves as the biggest surprise of all for cat owners: pregnancy.
Health Issues Faced By Obese Cats
Cats that carry too much excess weight over too long put more strain on their internal organs. As such, there are a number of complications and diseases that might arise, such as:
- Musculoskeletal Abnormalities (such as arthritis, intervertebral disc disease, etc.)
- Various Skin Conditions (such as flakiness, acne, etc.)
- Cardiovascular Disease (which can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure)
- Liver Disease
- Decreased Life Expectancy
- Endocrine Imbalance (which can lead to diabetes and hypothyroidism)
How Do You Achieve Cat Weight Loss?
Despite how ominous this list of complications might sounds, cat weight loss is actually quite easy to achieve. Any obese cat needs entertainment to keep it on its paws and lose weight. Cats that are bored will often become stressed, which in turn leads to sedentary habits and increased eating. Toys are a convenient solution, but to really get your cat moving, try them in combination with intricate climbing structures, play places and scratching posts. And what cat wants to miss out on some high energy one-on-one playtime with its owner? Even if you’re tired from a long day, you can kick back with a mystifying laser light that will have your cat running laps.
When it comes to feeding, moderation is key. Free-access to overflowing bowls has drawbacks, especially in households with multiple cats where competitive instincts compel them to eat as much as they can without other cats butting in. To prevent these situations, try feeding each of your cats carefully measured amounts of food, and do so in areas that are competition-free. Most cat food manufacturers have guidelines on their packaging for daily recommended servings. And speaking of packaging, learn to avoid cat food that’s full of carbohydrates and opt for high-protein alternatives instead. To make things even simpler, consider the many healthy cat food alternatives that have been specifically designed for cat weight loss.
Finally, whenever rapid or uncharacteristic weight gain is the case, or your overweight cat simply can’t seem to lose its excess pounds no matter what, promptly visit a vet as to get a diagnosis, as these are the cases that could be due to illnesses.
This October, Be Proactive!
With today being National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, it’s more important than ever to recognize the plethora of health risks that an obese cat faces. Take the time to seriously consider your feline friend’s current weight and its potential health impacts, then see if there’s anything you can do to increase the quality and length of its life. Just like with humans trying to shed some excess pounds, it might seem like a difficult challenge at first, but each day becomes easier as the pounds continue to shed off your cat like fur.