Obesity is a big problem for people, but it's also very common among cats. A whopping 57.9% of cats are overweight or obese, and this excess weight can lead to serious health problems. Here are three things cat owners need to know about obesity.
How much should cats weigh?
The ideal weight for your cat depends on their breed, but for the average domestic cat, a weight of between eight and 10 pounds is ideal, according to Pet Obesity Prevention. Siamese cats should be a little slimmer (five to 10 pounds), while Persian cats can be slightly heavier at seven to 12 pounds. Maine Coons can weigh up to 25 pounds without being considered overweight.
If you're not sure if your cat is obese, your veterinarian can examine them and let you know. Your vet can visually inspect your cat for obvious signs of excess weight, like a rounded abdomen. They can also feel your cat's ribs, hips and backbone to see how much fat is covering them.
Why is obesity a problem?
Obesity can put your cat at risk of health problems like diabetes. As a result of diabetes, your cat could develop diabetic neuropathy, a condition that damages the nerves in their feet and can make it hard for them to walk. Diabetes can also put your cat at risk of bacterial infections.
Obese cats are also more likely to have arthritis, a painful joint disorder. They also have a higher risk of liver disease. To keep your cat healthy, controlling their weight is important.
How can obesity be treated?
Rapid weight loss in cats can lead to liver failure, so your cat needs to follow a sensible diet plan, not a crash diet. Your veterinarian can help you determine how much to feed your cat. They may recommend feeding your cat diet kibble; these products have less fat and calories than regular kibble.
Exercise is also important for obese cats. Walking on a leash can give your indoor cat an opportunity to get outdoors and be active. If you want to walk your cat, let them get used to wearing the harness indoors first. Once they get used to the harness, you can try walking around the neighborhood together.
If your cat doesn't want to be leash trained, or if you don't want to walk them, they can get indoor exercise with toys like laser pointers. Simply move the laser quickly along the walls and floor and watch your cat try to catch it.
If you're worried that your cat is obese, take them to a veterinarian at a clinic like North Lexington Veterinary Clinic for treatment.