Weight Management in Cats
Did you know that obesity affects more than 50 percent of America's pet population? If your cat is overweight, she can develop all kinds of health problems such as painful arthritis, heart disease, breathing difficulty, diabetes and even bladder cancer. For your cat, the excess weight and the resulting health problems can mean less play time and depression.
How can you tell if your cat is overweight? First, your veterinarian will weigh your cat at her regular check-ups. Between checkups, place your hands on her side - are her ribs hard to feel or even impossible to feel? If so, she is likely overweight.
There are many easily identifiable causes of weight gain in cats:
- Overfeeding - Cats with unlimited access to food understandably eat more than they need.
- Overeating - Many commercial foods are loaded with salt and fat. This improves taste, which means your cat will want to gorge.
- Feeding habits - Feeding table scraps and "people food" can lead to obesity.
- Lack of exercise - Too much food and too little exercise produces a typical result: obesity.
- Age - Older, less active cats are prone to weight gain.
- Gender - Female cats are more likely to become overweight.
- Neutering - Spayed or neutered cats are twice as likely to become obese due to a more sedentary lifestyle. (There are many important health reasons to have your pet spayed or neutered - just remember to monitor your cat's weight.)
Food plays a very important role in treating an overweight cat. Along with exercise, a low-fat and low-calorie food is essential in helping your cat lose weight and stay fit. Fiber is also a key ingredient since it helps your cat eat less while keeping her full.
Once your cat has been overweight, she may be prone to weight gain and should have an ongoing weight-management plan based on good nutrition, exercise and regular check-ups and weigh-ins.
For an accurate diagnosis and treatment options, always consult your veterinarian.