Your cat wobbles when walking, the belly hangs low and the ribs are no longer palpable? Then your beloved pelt-nose possibly suffers from overweight. Every second to third cat is too fat. For cats, overweight can have unpleasant consequences such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
In our guide, you can find out why cats become overweight and what you can do about it.
Causes: Where does obesity come from in your cat?
More and more cats are overweight nowadays. There are many reasons for overweight in cats: from lack of physical activity to too much or bad cat food to neutering or simply advancing age. However, the most common reason for obesity is too much or too calorie-dense food and too little physical activity – mostly affecting indoor cats. The excess calories make themselves felt as fat deposits. In rare cases, obesity can be attributed to a (metabolic) disease or medication.
Possible causes of overweight in cats at a glance:
Wrong diet Too high calorie intake Lack of exercise (especially in indoor cats)
Metabolism after neutering (Metabolic) diseases
Joint diseases and pain Genetic predisposition Boredom, frustration or stress Medication
NOTE: Poor diet or excessive caloric intake and too little exercise are considered the main causes of cats being overweight. If your four-legged friend eats too much, he takes in more energy than he can convert. This creates fat deposits in the body.
What are the consequences of overweight in cats?
The consequences for the little pelt-noses are far-reaching. Overweight increases the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory distress, liver or kidney damage, as well as osteoarthritis or diseases of the urinary bladder. The life expectancy of an overweight cat can be greatly reduced. In addition, the extra weight significantly limits your cat’s quality of life. It becomes increasingly difficult for her to engage in physical activity, and she can no longer reach all parts of her body when grooming her coat.
When overweight occurs in kittens or young cats, it has serious consequences. The number of fat cells is already determined in the puppy age and does not change later. A cat that is overweight at a very young age may not get rid of the excess pounds.
At what point is your cat overweight?
As a rule, healthy cats have a weight of three to five kilograms. You will notice a slight layer of fat on the belly, chest and ribs. The waist is clearly visible, but not sunken.
Is my cat immediately overweight if it weighs six or seven kilograms? No, the question of overweight cannot be answered quite so simply. With regard to body size and body weight, there are considerable variations between the numerous cat breeds. In addition, male and female animals also differ from each other in terms of weight.
Thus, a weight around four kilograms is an average weight. For example, a healthy male Savannah cat reaches a weight of more than ten kilograms. And a Maine Coon male cat weighs on average seven to eight kilograms without being classified as overweight.
What is the BCS (Body Condition Score) and what does it say?
In order to clearly determine whether your velvet paw is normal or overweight, veterinarians use the so-called Body Condition Score (BCS). The body shape of the cat is evaluated on a nine-point scale. A BCS of 1 means the animal is very emaciated, while a BSC of 9 says the animal is severely overweight. With a BCS of 5, your cat is considered normal weight.
The veterinarian will first look at the cat from the side and from above. It should be well-proportioned. The ribs should be barely visible, but easily palpable. The cat should have little belly fat and its waist should be clearly visible. The bones at the base of the tail can be easily felt in normal weight animals. They are little covered with fat.
A distinction is made between overweight and obesity. If your cat weighs fifteen to twenty percent more than its ideal weight, veterinarians call it overweight. If the cat is over thirty percent above its typical ideal weight, it is called obese.
Recognize even in your cat overweight!
The waist is hardly or not at all detectable. Ribs and spine can no longer be felt. The belly hangs lower than the rib cage. The rib cage is round and wobbles when walking. The animals lie more tired in their sleeping places without energy, do not like to play and are no longer eager to jump. Felty fur on the back or in the tail area indicates that the animal can no longer reach here when grooming. TIP: Take your cat to the vet if you notice any of the signs listed!
What can you do if your cat is overweight?
You should never deprive your cat of food overnight. Even though we humans like to go on fast days when losing weight, this is risky for cats. A zero diet can cause fatty liver and endanger the animal. Reducing food severely is also not recommended.
Talk to your veterinarian!
The veterinarian will examine the animal physically and, if necessary, check the blood to rule out other diseases that can promote obesity. In addition, he can determine in this way whether your cat already suffers from secondary symptoms. The vet will then set up a diet plan for your cat and recommend food for overweight cats.
Special diet food for the cat diet can be bought in specialized shops or in the veterinary practice. The diet food contains all the essential nutrients for the cat and although the amount of calories is reduced, your cat will feel full.
How to feed your overweight cat properly during the diet
Make sure the dosage is accurate and follow your veterinarian’s directions! Subtract treats from the daily food ration! Food should not be a comfort food. Divide the daily ration into several small meals! If your cat begs for treats, don’t give in!
Here’s what you should know about feeding cats in general
Compared to dry food, wet food contains water. Wet food promotes water intake as soon as you feed it. For the same amount of food, your cat will consume fewer calories with wet food. You must avoid hidden additives such as caramel or inulin in ready-made food. As a rule, human food is unsuitable for cats. Find out exactly what is okay! The species-appropriate diet of a cat includes a high proportion of meat, because the amino acid taurine, which is necessary for cats, is found in animal tissues. You can switch to raw feeding of meat for this purpose, for example.
How to keep your cat slim
To keep your cat healthy and slim in the long term, changing the diet is an important component. But there are other measures that can help your cat lose weight or never get fat again.
Motivate them to play and run!
Especially if you have an indoor cat, you should encourage its activity. This can be done, for example, with toys for cats such as play fishing rods, crackling mice or balls. However, you should absolutely exclude a joint disease beforehand.
NOTE: In our guide “10 valuable tips to keep cats busy” you will learn, among other things, how to animate your velvet paw to move and send it in search of food.
Weighing your cat regularly will also keep you on target. Diet food and enough exercise are the most important health measures to reduce your cat’s excess weight and see success on the scale. It’s important that you don’t get impatient. To change the diet and reduce the weight, it takes time, first of all. Give it to your cat!
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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