“You are what you eat” applies to your cat, too. Although cat obesity is not as common as it is in dogs, obesity in cats is on the rise. Depending on the breed and activity level (outdoor versus indoor cats), the average weight of a cat should be 9 to 11 pounds.
Overweight cats carry extra weight around the middle hanging under the body. Give your cat a gentle squeeze around the middle. If you can’t feel his ribs when you rub his side, he likely needs a diet adjustment. Consult your veterinarian before addressing any weight issues.
Don’t assume that your cat is fat because he’s lazy and eats too much. Weight gain may be a sign of serious illness, such as hypothyroidism, which affects metabolic rate, or a disorder of the pituitary gland, which regulates production of hormones.
Like in humans, extra pounds can cause a number of health problems:
• Diabetes mellitus.
• Stress on the heart.
• Joint, tendon and ligament problems that can lead to lameness and arthritis.
• Skin disorders due to the cat having difficulty grooming himself.
• Shortened lifespan.
Neutered cats and obesity
Don’t assume your neutered male will become obese, spending his days only lounging on a pillow. Neutered and spayed cats are only moderately prone to obesity due to changes in hormones and metabolism.
When it’s time to put your cat on a diet and exercise program, try these tips:
• Schedule specific mealtimes. Don’t leave food out all day.
• Buy low-calorie food designed for overweight cats.
• Reduce or eliminate dry food, which is higher in carbohydrates that pack on the pounds.
• Feed low-calorie fruits and vegetables (asparagus, celery, squash) as between-meal treats.
• Don’t feed him table scraps containing fat.
• Don’t feed your cat just because she seems bored, finicky or hurt. Food is not a prize; the extra calories add up. Instead, try some exercise or a hug.
• Offer a cat nip toy to stimulate activity.
• Play with your cat just before mealtime. She’ll associate food with fun and will eat a sensible portion.
• Arrange play dates with other dogs and cats in the neighbourhood, provided everyone gets along.
• Adopt a second cat if you have a bored and overweight cat. Playmates will chase, wrestle, play and generally exercise each other.
The average adult cat should have two mealtimes, morning and evening, with a high- quality food that includes recommended amounts of protein, fat and water content. A balanced diet along with exercise will keep your cat healthy.