The internet may make it seem cute and funny, but obesity in cats isn’t really something to laugh at. Overweight and obese cats can have serious health problems, including shorter lifespans. It’s a big problem, too — about 40% of the general cat population is obese, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. And while it may be adorable, the best thing you can do for your pet is make sure that it stays at a proper weight. This is especially true since obesity is a huge risk factor in developing diabetes, which comes with its own set of complications.
Symptoms for obesity in cats are generally pretty visible:
Tests to confirm obesity in cats are mostly physical exams:
If your cat is obese due to a condition or disease like cancer, the first step is to begin treatment for that. Then, just like humans, it’s time for a diet and exercise regimen for your pet. For food, ditch the dry food, which can be stuffed full of extra calories, and start feeding your cat wet food at scheduled times with portion control based on their healthy weight. (You can find low-calorie versions of both dry and wet food, but wet food has the benefit of including hydrating fluids.) Your vet may suggest some prescription food depending on the degree of obesity. And remember to cut back on treats. Then, bond with your cat by playing with them. This is the exercise portion. Try to aim for 20 minutes of activity for your cat per day.
Assuming no other conditions, like endocrine disorders, might be causing your cat’s obesity, all it costs you to treat obesity in cats is the cost of low-calorie food and 20 minutes a day of play time. It’ll be good for both of you. Wet food can be a bit more expensive than dry, but you’ll be saving on obesity-related veterinary costs in the long run. Plus, since obesity in cats is mostly caused by overfeeding, you’ll be saving on food costs too!
Hours at the vet: As little as 30 minutes, as long as 1 hour.
Preventing obesity in cats is much the same as treating obesity in cats. Pick a nutritious food that’s served in proper portions at specific times, and keep your pet active. Cats are incredibly persistent at asking for more food than they actually need, but if you switch to an automated timed feeder you can reduce the amount of begging you have to deal with. You should also bring your cat in for regular checkups, where a veterinarian can do health assessments that include looking at your pet’s weight.
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