Does your cat seem a little rounder than usual? While this may seem harmless and cute it can actually cause some serious health concerns. Our Greeley vets talk about how being overweight can affect your cat's health and what you can do to help manage their weight.
Is My Cat Overweight?
When your cat is carrying a few extra pounds, it can lead to serious health complications, some of which can have life-long effects. Even as little as a few extra ounces can have a significant impact on your cat's overall health and vitality.
How Being Overweight Can Affect Your Cat's Health
Some of the potential health conditions that can affect an overweight cat are:
Heart Issues / Cardiovascular Disease
When a cat becomes overweight it can put a strain on their heart, specifically the left ventricle, leading to the potential development of cardiovascular disease.
The severe stress on the heart can cause a number of conditions including:
- Cardiac Hypertrophy
- Vascular Hypertrophy
- Myocardial Hypoxia.
Osteoarthritis is another condition that can affect overweight cats and lead to an overall decreased quality of life as your cat would be living with discomfort or even pain on a daily basis. This condition occurs both with the fatty deposits that can occur around the joints as well as pressure on bones and joints, both caused by the excess weight.
Overweight cats commonly experience conditions affecting their kidneys. These conditions can include:
- Enlarged Glomerulus
- Glomerulosclerosis (scarring of the filtering units in the kidneys)
- Hypertrophy (enlarged kidneys)
Insulin Resistance / Diabetes
When a cat is overweight it can lead to insulin resistance which can cause impaired glucose metabolism. Diabetes mellitus has also been known to develop more commonly in cats that are obese.
Low Quality of Life
When a cat is carrying extra weight it can cause extra stress on a number of parts of their bodies including organs leading to decreased function of vital processes and the occurrence of serious conditions. Along with that, the extra weight just generally makes it more difficult for your cat to move around. Overall, obesity in cats is detrimental to their health in all areas which can lead to discomfort in life and an early death.
How to Tell if Your Cat is Overweight
You may be wondering how to tell if your cat is overweight. Here are some of the common signs:
Your Cat Has a Larger Waistline Than Before
- Look down at your cat from directly above while he or she is standing. Look for a small indent above your cat's hips, where their waist should be (this can be a bit tricky with long-haired cats). If you can't see their waist or their sides are bulging, your cat is probably overweight.
Your Cat Physically Feels Thicker
- When your cat is at a healthy weight you should be able to slightly feel their ribs by gently running your hand along their chest. If you can't feel your cat's ribs, your cat may be overweight.
Your Cat is Unable to Jump Up Onto Furniture
- Cats are born with the ability to run and jump quickly. If your cat takes several tries to jump up onto their favorite piece of furniture, or if they give up entirely, their weight could be the issue.
Use Our Overweight Cat ChartLook over the illustration below to get a better understanding of your cat's weight category, and whether your cat may be carrying an extra pound or two.
Ways to Help Keep Your Cat From Being Overweight
Luckily, with a little time and effort, you can help reduce your cat's weight and help them keep the extra weight off. Here are the simple ways you can do this:
Provide Them With a Proper Diet and Nutrition
When a cat is overweight the first step is usually to reduce their daily food intake. Many cats are fed more than what they need so it's important to speak with your vet during your cat's wellness exam to learn more about their specific nutritional needs.
Putting your cat on a high-fiber diet may also be beneficial. This is because it can create feelings of fullness which can allow for smaller amounts of food while providing your cat with the same satisfaction.
Canned wet food is also a popular choice as there is a high water content that allows the cat to eat until they are full but the water content will contribute to that fullness as opposed to food only. This can also be beneficial as many cats don't drink enough water throughout the day and this can help them to stay hydrated.
Ensure Daily Activity and Exercise
By helping your cat to exercise plenty each day you can help to keep them lean and healthy. Providing them with cat trees and other structures to climb on as well as toys to chase can help to keep them moving. There are also many interactive toys on the market that allow you to help them move all around.
What if there is no reason for my cat to be overweight?
If your cat has suddenly begun to put on weight without cause, it's time to see your vet. Unexplained weight gain can be a symptom of an underlying health issue.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.