Owners of overweight cats need to hear this, and hear it without any type of sugar coating or euphemisms. When I tell you your cat is overweight, it’s because your cat is overweight. I’m not calling you fat, I am not picking on you, and I am not saying you are a bad person.
I can’t stress this enough – it’s not about you. When I make a recommendation for your cat to lose weight, it is only because of the high number of risks associated with overweight cats, much the same as for a human. It’s also because your cat is far too heavy.
People hear these risks so often that I think they’ve become desensitized to it, and therefore complacent when it comes to actually changing it. Even if it may not be something that you take into account for your own daily life, at least do your cat the courtesy of helping them. They depend solely on you for it. A cat doesn’t understand the risks and complications of obesity so it is up to you as their sole caregiver to help them lead a happier, healthier life.
How can you tell if your cat is overweight? Look at his head. If it looks tiny in proportion to his body, your cat is too fat. If your cat is over seven kilograms (ish), chances are they are overweight. If your cat can’t lick it’s own ass, it’s too fat. If any of these things apply, you need to take a good look at the way you’re feeding. What may seem like a miniscule amount of food to us can actually be a normal meal for your feline.
It seems that people think that treats and a buffet of food is the key to keeping a kitty healthy and happy. Oh look how cute he is, meowing because he wants more food. Oh look, I’m feeling sad so I am going to get some love from my cat by feeding it some more treats. This is not OK. If you do these things even though it is making your cat rotund, then you should re-think being a cat owner.
You are not making their lives better by giving them all of the food and treats they want – you are contributing to a poor quality of life. You are shortening that life, and making what they have left of it more and more uncomfortable with each pound they gain. Outward signs that your cat may be uncomfortable or feeling effects of obesity are:
- Panting (this is NOT normal for a cat and indicates distress)
- Unwillingness to climb or jump
- Inability to groom properly causing scalding around hind end
- Itchy, scaly skin
- Exercise intolerance
- Inappropriate urination
By inappropriate urination, I mean urinating or defecating outside of the litterbox. Maybe he just can’t fit, or maybe he’s trying to tell you something. A common misconception I hear of on a constant basis is that urinating outside the litter box happens because the cat is unhappy with you, the owner. This is silly and you need to stop thinking this way. While it may seem like they have the capacity for vindication sometimes, this is false. Inappropriate urination is understood to be a behaviour indicative of stress or urinary tract disease. Don’t believe me? Here’s a University who has also said it:
Something in your cat’s world, be it a new person, thing, or even renovations, can trigger these behaviours and getting to the bottom of which one it is can help. It is heartbreaking to see cats being brought in for euthanasia for something like this because the majority of cases can be helped with a little guidance from the vet and effort from the owner. If you have a situation like this, please ask your veterinarian for information first.
People need to realize that what you may think is a good weight for cats is actually much too high. It seems like it has become a social norm to have a chunky cat at home. If your cat doesn’t have a defined waist or it takes more than a light touch to feel ribs – your cat is too fat. Here’s a little comparison to help this sink in – 1 pound gained on a cat is like 15 pounds on an average adult woman. Click here for the full chart.
Injecting your cat after every meal probably doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, does it? Approximately 0.5% of cats will develop the disease due to obesity. This puts the numbers IN THE MILLIONS. I don’t think it’s fair to these animals to feed them the way people do. Let’s face it, there’s probably a solution and the onus needs to be put back on the owner to seek it out and make change. Your cat is not mad at you, not getting back at you because you left, your cat is stressed. It is your job to help.
Here’s more information on feline diabetes: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/FHC/health_resources/brochure_diabetes.cfm
See the bottom of this post for websites with statistics.
Feel free to shoot me an email with questions.