Just like all of us, being overweight or obese can have serious health consequences for cats. Being fluffy and round may make them look adorable, but there is nothing delightful about deteriorating health. If we neglect to address their weight problem, we'll put our sweet kitty at risk. Here's what we all need to know.
As responsible cat owners, our cat's health should be our priority. Most of the time, becoming overweight or obese results from the failure of the cat's human to provide their feline with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. It's tough to know what's right for kitty because there are so many choices out there. For those of us who are making education and best practices a priority, we're on track to ensure our kitty's health. The well-worn adage, "prevention is better than cure," also applies to our pets. The following serious health risks of being overweight should push us to take this advice to heart.
Commercial pet food is not always easily digested. Many cats lack the essential digestive enzymes that allow them to get the full nutritional benefit of their food. If our cat is suffering from loose stools, diarrhea, gas, constipation, poor skin or hair condition, or lack of energy, it's likely they aren't properly digesting their food. Vet Organics' EcoDigestive probiotic and enzyme support formula improves our cat's digestion and the absorption of nutrients in her diet.
Bone and Joint Problems
Having to carry all those excess pounds every single day will eventually cause damage to our cat's bones and joints. Unfortunately for cats, relief from arthritis pain through painkillers may not be possible because these drugs are not safe for cats to take daily and long-term. This will mean that our beloved feline will have to live with her unmanaged pain for the rest of her life, not to mention the significant loss of mobility she will also have to suffer.
Even if kitty is only a few pounds overweight, she is already at an increased risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes is a preventable disease; but when it sets in, it requires expensive, labor-intensive, and a lifetime of treatment. We can expect to administer daily insulin injections to our precious cat for the rest of her life.
Fatty Liver Disease
Medically known as hepatic lipidosis, this condition can abruptly develop when we have to put our overweight or obese cat on a strict diet. When kitty refuses to eat her new and healthier food or if her new diet drastically reduces her caloric intake, she can suffer from fatty liver disease in as little as two days of being on the new diet. Common symptoms of the disease include loss of appetite, weight loss, and jaundice. The onset of the condition requires the insertion of a feeding tube to ensure that kitty gets the nutrients she needs.
Also referred to as high blood pressure, this condition can lead to other more serious, and even fatal, health problems such as blindness and stroke. Overweight or obese cats are highly likely to also develop hypertension and other associated health conditions, which will mean that we will have to deal with more than one problem.
Flaky coats, greasy fur, or dry and itchy skin are also common among overweight and obese cats. These skin problems occur mostly because our cat can no longer properly groom herself, with her added breadth making it impossible for her to reach many areas of her body, particularly her back and the base of her tail.
What weight is considered healthy for a cat?
On average, a healthy cat should weigh between 9 and 11 pounds. Her veterinarian would be better able to determine what our cat's ideal weight should be. In addition to monitoring her weight in numbers, we can do the "touch-and-sight" method to determine if kitty's weight is just right. When we put our fingers on her underside, we should be able to feel her ribs with no difficulty. When we look at her from above, and while she's standing, her shape should be relatively straight or rectangular, not round.
If our cat is already overweight, it is vital that we consult a veterinarian to determine the right kind of diet we should switch her to. Again, we should be aware of the risk for fatty liver disease, so it's crucial to switch her to a healthier and reduced-calorie diet gradually. Increasing her physical activity through play and exercise is also a vital step towards getting kitty back in tiptop shape.
We should act as soon as we notice our cat putting on excess weight. Let us not wait until her weight problems lead to more serious health conditions. When we help kitty maintain her ideal weight, we also ensure a good quality of life for her, and for us, as well.
- "Five Ways Being Overweight Can Harm Your Cat's Health," Commings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University
- "Ideal Dog and Cat Weight Ranges," Association for Pet Obesity Prevention
- "Obesity in Cats," VetStreet
- "Steps to a Healthy Cat Weight," VCA Hospitals