Hidden Dangers of Cat Obesity and 3 Tips to Prevent It Is Your Kitty Getting Plumpโ€”Health Risks and Prevention Tips

Hidden Dangers of Cat Obesity and 3 Tips to Prevent It

Cats with excess weight arenโ€™t healthy; instead, they are at risk of several health issues. Read this guide to learn about the dangers of obesity in cats and the measures you can take to prevent it.

One of the greatest joys in life is becoming a cat parent. These small creatures offer unconditional love and companionship and alleviate stress and loneliness. But raising felines comes with significant responsibilities. 

The responsibilities of owning a feline don’t end with choosing quality food, getting your fur baby vaccinated, or using flea and tick preventatives. Instead, it extends beyond that. As a cat owner, you must also ensure your furball maintains a healthy weight since many felines suffer from obesity. About 60% of domestic cats are overweight, the VCA Animal Hospitals revealed. 

Cats gain weight due to several reasons. Besides increased food intake, free feeding, and giving too many treats are risk factors of obesity in cats. Your overweight feline might look cute, but excess weight puts it at risk of several health issues. Here, we’ll discuss the dangers of obesity in cats as well as share a few tips to help prevent it.

Health Problems Associated With Cat Obesity

Cats who are overweight are prone to a variety of health risks. Here’s a quick overview of some of the health problems your feline companion can develop due to obesity:

1. Diabetes Mellitus

Overweight cats are at an increased risk of developing diabetes mellitus, or diabetes. The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has discovered that overweight cats are four times more likely to develop this condition than ideal weight cats. 

Randall Haveman, a former veterinarian, has revealed that obesity is the primary cause of diabetes in felines. 

Excess weight can interrupt the body’s ability to create and regulate insulin, causing blood sugar to build up in the blood. Thus, this increased insulin resistance or impaired insulin sensitivity results in diabetes. Weight loss and increased urination, thirst, and appetite are signs of diabetes in felines

Managing diabetes in domestic cats requires regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, dietary modifications, and administering insulin injections. 

2. Heart Disease

Obesity can have a detrimental impact on the cardiovascular system of felines, increasing their risk of heart disease. One out of every ten cats is affected by heart disease, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Excess body fat causes the heart to work hard to pump blood. This puts a strain on the heart muscle, contributing to the development of conditions like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or the thickening of the heart muscle, and heart failure. 

Cats lose weight when they suffer from heart disease. Besides, they become lethargic and have poor appetite. Most felines don’t display any signs of heart disease until it advances. As the disease progresses, cats tend to sleep more, hide under furniture, or become more withdrawn. 

3. Respiratory Issues

Obese cats often struggle with breathing problems. Findings of a study published by NIH revealed that overweight or obese cats demonstrated more degraded lung function parameters connected to restrictive patterns than normal-weight cats.

Excess weight limits the expansion of the chest cavity, making it harder for cats to breathe comfortably, especially in warm environments or during physical activity.

Signs of Obesity in Cats

When it’s about battling feline obesity, awareness is the first line of defense. Knowing about the signs of obesity in cats can help you take prompt action, decreasing their risk of health issues. Here are some key indicators that your cat may be overweight or obese:

  • Inability to feel ribs due to fat covering

  • Decreased activity levels

  • Excessive belly fat

  • Difficulty grooming

  • Shortness of breath

  • Reluctance to move

  • Increased sleep

If you notice any of these signs in your feline friend, it’s likely obese. To be sure, consider assessing its body condition score. If it’s over 6.5 or 7, your cat is overweight. But if it’s lower than that, it has an ideal body weight. 

3 Tips to Prevent Obesity and Maintain a Healthy Weight in Cats

Weight gain can lead to a host of health issues in cats. As pet parents, it’s important to prevent obesity in your feline friend, and these tips will help you do that:

1. Offer Your Cat Dry Food That is High in Protein But Low in Fat

The key to maintaining a healthy weight in your whiskered friend is to feed it dry food that is high in protein but low in fat. 

Too much calorie intake increases the risk of obesity, leading to a host of health conditions. Avoid that by switching to food with high-protein content. Such food will help your feline friend feel fuller for longer, reducing the likelihood of overeating. They also help maintain lean body mass, which is vital for overall health and metabolism.

The Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Weight Management Chicken Flavor Dry Cat Food is designed to support weight management in cats. This food, specifically formulated by Hill’s nutritionists and veterinarians, contains 23% crude protein and 9% crude fat. Since it’s high in protein and low in fats, it helps cats lose weight. 

Another great option is Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d Multi-Benefit Digestive/Weight/Glucose/Urinary Management with Chicken Dry Cat Food. Formulated with ingredients like chicken meal, chicken fat, and soybean oil, this food helps felines maintain an ideal body weight. 

2. Add Canned Food to its Diet

Canned foods contain more protein and fewer carbohydrates than dry foods. Consider adding them to your feline friend’s diet. Canned foods also have a higher moisture content. It will keep your cat hydrated and support its kidney and urinary tract health.

Make sure to choose high-quality canned food with real meat or fish as the primary ingredient.  Avoid products with artificial additives, fillers, or excessive grains. 

The Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Weight Management Canned Cat Food is specifically formulated to address the challenges of overweight cats. The formula features a blend of chicken, L-carnitine, and soluble and insoluble fiber. All these ingredients aid weight loss while maintaining lean muscle mass. 

3. Encourage Physical Activity Through Play

Many people assume that cats don’t require physical activity. But that is far from the truth. Kenmore Veterinary Hospital states that cats, just like canines and humans, require physical activity to maintain their physical health as well as improve their quality of life. 

Cats are different from dogs, so you can’t walk them. You can, however, keep them physically active by playing with them. Felines are natural hunters as well as predators. You can stimulate your furry friend’s natural instincts by playing with it through interactive toys. 

Consider getting feather wands to keep your fur baby active and mentally stimulated. The Feather Wand Dangler Pole is a worthwhile option. This 18” long wand features a bunch of beautiful feathers that entice cats. A sturdy elastic string holds them in place while allowing the feathers to dang freely. Thus, it provides felines with mental stimulation while keeping them active. 

However, if your feline friend doesn’t enjoy playing, take it for a walk. 

Bruce Dyer, a cat parent who owns two felines, Peach and Velvet, shares his experience in this regard. He explains that Peach, who’s slightly overweight, plays with toys on its own, and that helps manage its weight. But the only way to control Velvet’s weight is to take it out on a walk. As a cat parent, see what works for your feline and do that to help them keep healthy. 

To sum things up, obesity in cats is a serious health concern that can lead to numerous health conditions, including diabetes and respiratory issues. You can prevent obesity in your feline friend by feeding it a weight loss diet, offering it canned foods, and playing with it. 

However, take it to the vet regularly for check-ups as well as monitoring your cat’s weight. A vet can make the path to a successful weight loss program easy, so keep in touch with them. They can help identify signs of obesity and adjust its diet as needed, helping your whiskered friend maintain a healthy weight. 

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