Feline Obesity

Dangerous but Not Difficult to Control

If left to fend for themselves in the wild our cats would survive on prey, displaying their prowess with buff physiques. Instead they park themselves on the couch and eat fast food for felines. The results are often not pretty. It’s estimated that over 35% of cats are overweight or obese leading to diabetes, joint damage, skin disorders, and fatty liver disease. Too corpulent and uncomfortable to run, climb, and jump fat cats live stunted lives. Quoting the late Joan Rivers, can we talk?

The World Health Organization’s definition of obesity, “an excess of body fat that has negative effects upon health” also applies to our kitties. Risk factors include genetics and environment. Any cat can pack on the pork but middle aged neutered males win the big prize. Sterilization, so important for population control, is a major factor for both sexes because it triggers increased hunger. Research suggests reducing calorie intake by 30% after spayed or neutered cats reach adult size.

Indoor cats with freely available premium (highly digestible) dry food tend to kick back and snack because they lack hunting and pouncing opportunities. Owner denial is another factor. In order to manage the problem we have to admit that our well-loved kitty’s girth may someday restrict his passage through doorways. It’s a rare cat who is truly big boned, bless their hearts.

The type of food really does matter. Cats fed canned diets have more easily satisfied appetites. Eating multiple small meals also leads to a healthy weight. Food toys and puzzles can help make that happen. Take it slow. Weight loss of about 1-2% weekly is considered ideal.

Controlling our cats’ weight isn’t that difficult; it would be much harder if they could drive to doughnut shops. So let’s take charge where we can. By measuring canned food (kitten food has more protein and less carbs) into food toys and puzzles your feline slug will be required to engage mentally and physically in survival by doing whatever it takes to extract his nutrition. Beating up on a food toy is actually pretty good exercise. Let’s be real. Most cats don’t contribute a great deal to society; the least they could do is work for a living.