Obesity and the effects

Cat - Obesity and the effects

Obesity is an increasing problem in cats, and many pets are becoming overweight as a result of overfeeding or simply having an unbalanced diet. The excess fat caused by this weight gain can have a significant effect on a cat’s body, particularly around the joints, heart and digestive system.

Cats are naturally active creatures, so when they become obese and are unable to move with the same level of agility they are likely to become anxious and unhappy as a result. Joint pain and breathing problems can also make movement uncomfortable.

Obesity is a serious problem, but thankfully it can be tackled with a strict diet plan and plenty of willpower!

Causes

It’s important to recognise that obesity isn’t always a result of overfeeding; sometimes a cat might be eating the same amount of food as always, but their activity levels have decreased - particularly in older cats - or the food is of a low quality, filled with carbohydrates and other fattening components. There needs to be a balance between energy consumed through a cat’s diet and energy spent through exercise, to ensure they’re not consuming too much energy, as this is simply transferred into fat.

Signs of obesity
  • Weight gain, which can be easily measured with weekly weigh-ins.
  • Excess body fat, particularly around the stomach and neck.
  • Lethargy and an unwillingness to play and explore. It may be that your cat finds it too tiring, or they may find it uncomfortable to move around.
Diagnosis

Obesity is simple to diagnose in cats, and is usually based on their body condition score (determined by a vet using a number of factors), as well as their age and breed. Generally speaking, cats are considered overweight if their body fat is over 25 per cent, and diagnosed as obese if this reaches over 30 per cent.

A vet will take a look at a number of different factors when diagnosing a cat, including clinical history, health of vital organs, and assessment of food and feeding times - especially in homes where there is more than one pet. This will ensure that your pet’s weight gain can be attributed to the correct cause, and their diet can be altered accordingly.