Obesity is a serious issue for cats. Not only does it impact on their lifestyle, but it can also have many negative effects on their health. Therefore, many owners of obese cats find themselves looking for ways to help their cat to lose weight. To do this, they must first understand what has led their cat to become obese in the first instance. Many are surprised to learn that it is they who are the cause. Here is why your cat’s obesity is probably your fault, and what you can do to rectify the situation.
What is Cat Obesity?
Pet MD describes cat obesity as being a nutritional disease that is defined by an excess of body fat. This means that they are significantly overweight for their size and breed. It is important to note that the healthy weight for cats differs according to the breed and adult size of a cat. Usually, cats become obese in their middle years, although it can begin when they are younger. Alarmingly, statistics from The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that around 57.6 percent of cats are classified as either overweight or obese.
The Impact of Obesity in Cats
Obesity can have a serious impact on your cat’s health. Cats that are overweight are more prone to health problems including cardiovascular problems, diabetes, joint problems, and a shorter lifespan. It can also limit your cat’s movement and cause fatigue. To avoid these issues, it is essential that a cat is in the healthy weight range for its breed and size.
The Causes of Cat Obesity
There are three main causes of cat obesity, says Pet Happy. Two of these relate to diet, and the other to activity levels. The main causes include:
- Overeating – The most common reason for cat obesity is overeating. This happens when owners gradually increase meal sizes and feed their cats between meals. It is your responsibility to make sure your cat does not overeat.
- Bad diet – It is not just how much food your cat is eating, but also what it is eating. If your cat is eating a healthy and balanced diet, then it is unlikely the cat will gain weight. Giving a cat food that is not intended for cats and have a high fat, sugar, or carbohydrate content will lead to your cat gaining weight. Your cat’s diet should predominantly consist of protein.
- A sedentary lifestyle – A lack of activity is another cause of cats becoming obese. This is especially the case if your cat is an indoor cat.
So, Is Your Cat’s Obesity Your Fault?
As the cat’s owner, it is your responsibility to make sure your cat gets a healthy and balanced diet. Therefore, the cat owner should generally take the blame if their cat is overeating or they have fed the cat unhealthy foods. Some would argue that their cat steals leftovers or food from the bin. However, these are easily preventable situations. Similarly, a cat not getting enough exercise is the owner’s responsibility, so cat obesity is the fault of the owner in most cases.
What Can You Do If Your Cat is Obese?
When it comes to cat obesity, prevention is always better than cure, says Cats Protection. However, if you do find yourself in a situation where your cat has become obese, it is essential that you face the issue and take steps to help your cat lose weight. This is important for your cat to stay healthy and to live a full life. There are several easy steps you can take to help your cat to lose weight, including:
- Speak to your vet – The first step is to speak to the vet. They can advise you on the correct weight for your cat and give you an accurate measure of how much overweight they are. This then gives you an idea of how much weight they need to lose. A vet can also give you some advice and guidance with regards to your cat’s diet and suggest ways to increase your cat’s activity levels.
- Have set mealtimes -Try to stick to set mealtimes for your cat. They will get accustomed to their mealtime routine and they are then less likely to beg for food or steal between meals.
- Don’t give snacks – Cats do not need snacks between meals, so there is no need to give them any. Constantly giving them treat and scraps off your own plate probably contributed to your cat’s weight gain in the first instance.
- Avoid unhealthy foods – Just because a human can eat a certain food, it does not mean that you should give it to your cat. In the wild, cats live on a diet that consists predominantly of protein, such as meat and fish. Foods that are high in fat or sugar are ones to avoid feeding to your cat.
- Remove uneaten food – Saying that your cat has gained weight because it steals food is not a good enough excuse as there are steps that you can take to avoid this. Clear away and plates straight away, and either wrap the leftover food to keep it in the fridge or put it straight in the trash instead of leaving it out on work surfaces. Make sure your trash can has a secure lid that your cat cannot get inside.
- Encourage play – Although encouraging activity is a little harder, you can increase your cat’s activity levels by encouraging play. Get them some toys and a multi-layered cat tower to give them the motivation to get up and move.
The Final Verdict
Cat obesity is a serious problem that is caused by overeating, eating the wrong food, and a lack of exercise. As diet and exercise are the responsibility of the cat’s owner, it is probably your fault if your cat is obese. However, it is never too late to rectify this situation, as there are many steps you can take to get your cat back within a healthy weight range.