A common problem in cats today is obesity. More than half the cat population is now overweight, and it is quickly becoming the norm. We see the commercials, the cartoons, the storybook fantasies about overweight cats and we buy into it. Who doesn't love Garfield, Hollywood's favorite fat cat? The trouble is fat cats are not healthy and they are predisposed to certain diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and hepatic Lipidoses. Is it really worth risking your cat's life to show that you have a fat cat?
Obesity no longer is an issue simply for humans. Domestic animals now are becoming obese due to a sedentary life style and a diet rich in calories. Yes some of you might find it hard to believe that cats can be overweight but have you actually watched how much your cat is eating? The problem could become serious in a multi cat home, where the overweight cat is eating her portion and the other cat's portion as well. Also are you feeding it table scraps; a piece of this and a taste of that? There lies the problem, too many calories which will lead to serious disease down the line.
Causes of Weight Gain in Cats
The metabolic rate in each cat will differ and your cat may just have a slower rate, thus preventing it from burning up the sufficient amount of calories required to maintain normal body weight.
Sex - Twice as many female cats are overweight than male cats
Age - Older cats are more inclined to become overweight because they are less active than kittens
Exercise - a lazy cat is not burning enough calories to keep the excess weight off will gain weight
Neutering - Many people blame neutering for their cat's increase in size, but it is more likely due to lack of exercise and unregulated diet
Diseases That Cause Extra Weight On Cats
Hypothryroidism - a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroxine hormone, which is responsible for maintaining the cat's metabolism.
Feline Cushings Disease - also known as hyperadrenocorticism is a disease where there is too much cortisol in the blood, which can originate from several different underlying conditions. Cats will be overweight and have a cushioned "potbelly" appearance.
Diabetes Mellitus - a condition that produces excessive amounts of sugar (hyperglycemia) in the blood. It will cause the cat to become overweight. It is also a condition that can be precipitated by the cat being overweight in the first place.
Diseases that are brought on by an overweight Cat
Hepatic Lipidoses - also called fatty liver syndrome, occurs in middle-aged obese cats. Cats stop eating and the body begins to use fat for fuel, however cats do not metabolize fat very well and the fat cells build up in the liver, preventing it from functioning properly.
Arthritis - which occurs because of joint swelling is made even more stressful and painful by an overweight cat. Overweight cats put extra pressure on their joints.
High Blood pressure - overweight cats have high blood pressure that can lead to serious organ failure: kidney, liver, heart failure.
Breathing problems - breathing problems can lead to asthma and heart failure in obese cats
It is important to see your veterinarian for a regulated diet. Trying to limit your cat's eating habits on your own can cause problems such as Hepatic Lipidosis discussed above.
Simple things such as changing your cat's diet and increasing its exercise by playing with it can add years to its life and years of pleasure to yours.