Home > Cats > Health and Behavior > Feline Obesity
 

Feline Obesity

By Jean Hofve, DVM
Updated: 2010-02-10 12:28 AM 2729 Views    Category: Health and Behavior
 
RATING THIS ARTICLE
Average Rating
5 Stars  
Rate it :
TOOLS
Share |
Email Article
Printable View
Export to MS Word MS Word Export
Subscribe to Article Subscribe
Bookmark Article

Obesity is a serious problem for our feline friends. Many serious health problems can result from obesity, such as arthritis, liver disease, heart failure, and renal disease.


Prevention is key here: don't allow your cat to become overweight in the first place. Pay attention to your kitten's growth to make sure he does not fill out "too much." The average weight gain for a kitten is approximately one pound per month up to 8-10 pounds.


How can you tell if your cat's too fat? You should be able to feel the ribs easily. Even thin cats may have a little "pooch" in the belly between the hind legs, but this should not be excessive. From above, there should be a bit of a waist, rather than a bulge, between ribs and hips.


While nutritionists simplify obesity as a matter of "too many calories in and too few calories expended," it is obviously not that simple. Obesity is a symptom of a systemic imbalance, basically a disease state. Dieting (starving) a cat down to his "ideal" weight does not address the cause of the problem. Common contributors to obesity include:


1.  In a multi-cat household, when one cat goes to the food bowl, curiosity or the competitive instinct may cause another cat to investigate and, while she's there, take a few nibbles. Enough nibbles over time can create a big problem!


2.  Boredom also plays a role. Cats who are home alone all day may eat just for something pleasurable to do. Spending quality time with your cat, particularly using play therapy sessions, will be a crucial part of a weight loss program.


3.  Former stray cats who have had to struggle to survive on the streets may have significant "food issues," and will often become overweight if food is constantly available.


I don't like to put cats on a "diet". Diets must often be severe in order to comply with current calorie theories, and this may cause even worse problems, such as life-threatening liver disease. Skipping a single meal can throw a sensitive cat into a serious problem. Free-choice feeding diet foods usually results in weight gain rather than loss.


Animals may consume excessive amounts of a food because they can't digest it properly, there aren't enough of certain nutrients, or some nutrients are not in a "bioavailable" form--that is, they can't be assimilated properly. This is a concern with some of the most inexpensive and generic foods, as well as with some "diet" foods that contain excessive levels of fiber.


Dry food is actually where the most dangerous calories are. The feline is uniquely adapted to get energy from protein and fat; the cat's natural prey contains very little carbohydrate. For most cats, carbohydrates are converted to fat, rather than be burned for energy. Clearly, this is the opposite of where we want to go!


There are two major strategies for helping a fat cat lose weight.


Feed in timed meals. For most cats, it's best to feed them on a timed-meal schedule. That is, don't leave the food out all the time, but rather put the food out for 30-45 minutes, two or three times a day. Cats figure out this schedule quickly. Not all cats will lose weight with this change alone, but usually you can keep them from continuing to gain. (Caution: some medical conditions require special feeding regimens; talk to your veterinarian before making any changes.)


Feed wet food. In general, cats should receive at least 50 percent of their diet as wet food, either good-quality canned foods or homemade diets. For significant, healthy weight loss (and many other health benefits), feed 100% canned food and get rid of the dry altogether. Always make sure kitty is eating; some cats are so addicted to their dry food that they will go on a hunger strike without it. This can lead to serious health complications. Be sure you work closely with your veterinarian when changing diets to minimize the risk to your cat.


A high-protein, high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet (think "Atkins") is truly ideal for the cat. Most canned cat and kitten foods meet these standards, but try to choose those with the least carbohydrate. You can get a fair idea of carbohydrate content by simply subtracting all the listed percentages on the label from 100%. About 8% carbohydrate (or less) is best.


To minimize the stress associated with the new schedule and new food (cats hate change!), flower essences such as Stress Stopper can be very helpful. It is important that these changes be made as stress-free as possible to prevent other health problems from occurring.


Throughout the weight management process, whatever the results, give your cat plenty of love and attention. Play therapy is good exercise, builds her confidence, and strengthens the bond between the two of you. Lots of affection will help her equate love and comfort with you--and not her food bowl.

 

More Articles in Health and Behavior
Hairballs
Stress Linked to Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases
How to Keep Cats from Chewing on Electric Cords and Chargers
Why Cats Scratch Things
Feline Stomatitis - Inflammation or Infection In The Mouth
Feline Asthma
Why Cats Sneeze?
Dental Care for Cats
Understand the Cat's Meow
How to Prevent Cat Stress That Causes Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases
How to Treat Your Cat If It Has A Cold
Hyperthyroidism In Cats
Natural Pet Dental Care
Cancer in Cats
How to Get a Cat to Stop Meowing
Understand Cat Diabetes
Prevention of Feline URI
How to Give a Cat Medicine
The Healing Purr
Signs and Diagnosis Feline Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
How to Prevent Feline Housesoiling
 
 
 http://www.spiritessence.com
 
 
0 COMMENTS Leave a Comment
There are no user comments for this question. Be the first to post a comment. Click Here
 
 
Search Article  
 
GET STARTED
Submit your Article Here

Have a good read you want to share with us? Start doing it now here.
Submit Your Article
RELATED ARTICLES
Feline Stomatitis - Inflammation or Infection In The Mouth
Prevention of Feline URI
How to Give a Cat Medicine
How to Treat Your Cat If It Has A Cold
Why Cats Sneeze?
Signs and Diagnosis Feline Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
Dental Care for Cats
Hyperthyroidism In Cats
The Healing Purr
Natural Pet Dental Care
How to Prevent Cat Stress That Causes Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases
Stress Linked to Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases
Cancer in Cats
How to Keep Cats from Chewing on Electric Cords and Chargers
Hairballs
Feline Asthma
Understand the Cat's Meow
How to Get a Cat to Stop Meowing
Why Cats Scratch Things
How to Prevent Feline Housesoiling
Understand Cat Diabetes
 
Top Articles
 
 
Popular Articles
 
 
Latest Articles