If you have a pet cat, then you likely do all you can to keep them in great health. However, if your cat is overweight or even obese, you should know that their weight problem makes them more prone to disease development in the future. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, just under 60 percent of all cats in the United States are overweight or obese.
Read on to learn about the dangers of cat obesity and how you can help get your overweight cat to lose weight - if your vet does determine they are overweight.
Feline Obesity Health Hazards
Many pet owners are in denial about their pet's condition. For example, when the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention surveyed owners of overweight cats, they found that 90 percent of cat owners did not realize their cats were overweight. Here are some of the health hazards related to obesity.
1. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Since feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUD) is one of the most common health problems cats can develop, all cat owners need to take steps to avoid this group of diseases. However, if your cat is overweight or obese, they are more prone to developing these diseases than cats with healthy weights.
The most common FLUD that cats develop is feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), which is inflammation of the lower urinary tract. This condition leads to intense pain every time your cat urinates. A cat with FIC may also urinate outside of the litter box and even display blood in their urine.
Unfortunately, there is no medication that can completely relieve FIC symptoms or eliminate the disease entirely, although lifestyle changes can help. This makes it important to keep your cat at a healthy weight to help prevent the development of FIC and the pain it can cause your cat.
Obese cats are two to four times more likely to develop diabetes than cats that are not overweight. While this disease can be managed with insulin injections or oral medications, serious diabetic complications can still occur in cats who develop the disease. Complications can include diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage, diabetic nephropathy or kidney damage, and cataract formation.
Once your cat develops diabetes, it cannot be cured, even with weight loss. This makes it important to get your overweight cat in shape before they develop the disease.
3. Liver Disease
Feline obesity can also contribute to the development of fatty liver syndrome. While this disease can occur at any time, it is more likely to occur after an overweight cat doesn't eat for several days. Once they stop eating, their body can break down their fat stores so rapidly that it overwhelms their liver.
This disease can turn fatal quickly if your cat does not receive prompt veterinarian attention. Typically, treatment involves tubefeeding for about six to seven weeks.
How to Help Your Overweight Cat Get in Shape
One way to determine if your cat is overweight is by feeling their ribs. If you cannot feel them, then that is a sign your cat is overweight. Your cat should also have a waist that gives their body an "hourglass" appearance.
If you suspect your cat is overweight, then take them to a veterinarian who can weigh them and determine just how much weight they have to lose to reduce their chances of obesity-related illness.
Instead of suggesting you feed your cat less of their typical food, your veterinarian may prescribe a special low-calorie cat food. While all low-calorie cat foods vary, many are higher in fiber than traditional cat foods to help your cat feel fuller, longer after eating smaller portions of food.
You should also take steps to provide your cat exercise. Find fun toys they enjoy chasing around the house. Those that look and move like birds, mice, and other natural prey can set off their predatory instincts and get them moving.
If you suspect that your cat may be overweight, then take them to Irby-Overton Veterinary Hospital for evaluation. You and your veterinarian can discuss the steps you need to take to get your cat back into shape.