Why is My Cat Fat?

If your cat is overweight, you’re in good company! The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention [1] estimates that approximately 60% of cats in the United States are overweight. Although feline obesity is a common issue, it isn’t one that should be taken lightly. Obesity can predispose cats to several significant health problems.

why my cat fat

Like humans, all cats have different metabolisms. Some cats can eat a typical commercial diet and remain healthy, while others can eat a similar diet and become obese. Feline weight gain can be frustrating, but it isn’t insurmountable.

Why do Cats gain weight?

For a cat to maintain a healthy weight, the pet must have a calorie intake approximately equal to the number of calories burned through exercise. Cats can become overweight for two reasons: overeating (excessive calorie intake) or not exercising enough (bad calorie burn).

Obesity is common in pet due to their feeding habits and lifestyles. If you think about a stray or feral cat’s lifestyle, these pets typically eat small meals only as they can catch prey. If a pet can’t catch a mouse or other small animal, it can’t eat. Similarly, stray cats spend a significant amount of energy roaming outside, chasing prey or looking for cast-off food items.

Contrast this image of an outdoor cat to the lifestyle of most of our pet. Instead of expending energy chasing small prey, our pets often spend their days lounging on a sofa or armchair, being offered as much commercial food as they are willing to eat. When you think of it in this way, it isn’t difficult to understand the underlying causes of feline obesity!

Overweight Cats Health Problems

Just like humans, pets can suffer a number of adverse medical effects caused by obesity.

One potential negative effect of obesity is arthritis

This painful condition is caused by a combination of factors. First, an overweight pet puts more pressure (strain) on their joints than a pet that is at a healthy weight. Second, obesity can trigger chronic inflammation within the body, including inflammation within the joints. These two factors combine to make arthritis more common in obese cats.

Additionally, obese cats are prone to diabetes

Obesity interferes with the body’s metabolism, affecting a cat’s cells’ ability to take up insulin and process sugar normally. Diabetes can be treated with insulin injections, but it’s far easier to prevent diabetes than it is to treat it!

Overweight cats often have trouble grooming themselves

This can lead to a number of possible health impacts, including matted coats, skin infections, and urinary tract infections. If your pet is too heavy to groom herself, it’s important to pay special attention to brushing and grooming in order to ensure that she doesn’t develop infections related to poor hygiene.

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How can weight gain in Cats be prevented?

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Preventing weight gain is cats requires carefully balancing your pet’s calorie intake and calorie expenditures.

Regulating your pet’s calorie intake requires careful attention to your pet’s diet. Feed your pet measured meals of a high-quality diet. Don’t leave food out for your cat to eat freely, because most cats will overeat if fed in this manner. Use your pet food’s label recommendations as a starting point for feeding quantity, but realize that many pets require even less than the quantity stated on the label recommendations in order to maintain a healthy weight.

Next, ensure that your pet is getting enough exercise. Indoor pets can be encouraged to exercise in a number of ways. Some pets respond well to toys, such as balls and teaser toys (feathers on the end of a wand). If your cat is hesitant to play, consider using a puzzle feeder that requires your pet to be active in order to obtain food.

By avoiding overfeeding and providing exercise, you can prevent obesity in your pet.

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How to help Cat lose weight?

how to help my cat not to gain weightPhoto by Haley Owens on Unsplash

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First, consult your veterinarian before putting your pet on a strict weight loss program.[2] Your veterinarian can rule out underlying medical issues that may be contributing to your pet’s weight gain.

Additionally, your veterinarian can offer guidance on how to promote gradual, healthy weight loss. Your pet must lose weight slowly and gradually, instead of going on a “crash diet”. Overweight cats who experience a sudden and drastic reduction in calorie intake can develop a life-threatening liver disease called hepatic lipidosis.

Ultimately, weight loss will require balancing the same “calories in versus calories out” equation that was discussed earlier. Through a combination of gradual calorie reduction and increased exercise, your pet can likely return to a healthy weight.

Article Sources:

  1. “Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.” Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 12 Nov. 2020, petobesityprevention.org/.
  2. Little, Susan, et al. “Feline Obesity: Dietary Therapy and beyond (Proceedings).” DVM 360, dvm360.com/view/feline-obesity-dietary-therapy-and-beyond-proceedings.

ThePets is an informational website that features articles written by qualified veterinarians and professional writers. You can learn more about our editorial process. When selecting food for your pet, use Pet Food Finder, and search for the clinic to treat your pet using Vet Clinics Locator.

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