Many owners become concerned when they notice their cat putting on weight. Neutered cats need a third less food than before, and will quickly become overweight if you don't keep an eye on them, posing a real health risk.
Why is overweight a problem?
A lot of different diseases are seen more often in cats that are overweight. Sadly these cats also tend to be less comfortable and content. Some of the most common problems that can occur in overweight cats are:
- Skin problems
- Urinary tract problems
- Heart problems
- Higher risk of cancer
In cats over 7 years of age, the risk of dying is almost 3 times higher in overweight cats compared to cats with a normal weight.
This is why it is so important to:
- Keep your cat slender
- Help her lose weight if she is already overweight
How do I know if my cat is overweight?
Examine your cat in the following areas:
- Underneath the belly and between the hind legs - is there an 'apron' or roll of fat there?
- Along her ribs - can you feel the ribs if you gently press down as you stroke her? If not - there is probably too much fat
- From above - see the chart below
Why is she overweight?
Most cats are overweight because of over-feeding and it's all too easy to understand why. We quickly learn just how happy some special treats or new food makes them feel.
However, if your cat is going to stay in shape she is going to have to learn to live with less food. You will just have to compensate by giving her lots of extra attention!
Your vet is the best person to help you set a healthy eating programme for an overweight cat but these tips should also give good results:
- Cats should have multiple small meals every day. If you are away from home a lot, try a food ball or a mechanical food dispenser
- If she begs for food give her extra cuddles and attention instead
- Make sure you set time aside every day to play with your cat - treat her to some new toys or just use scrunched up paper
- Buy a tall scratching post to encourage your cat to climb
- Consider getting a kitten to keep your cat company. Ask your vet what breed would be best for your cat
- Watch out for cat treats - they contain lots of calories
- Ask your vet to recommend a weight management food
Your vet can help you confirm if your cat is overweight and recommend a course of action to ensure she remains happy and healthy.