Hello! Nigel, here! Don’t worry…that strapping gent pictured above is not me. I am still quite svelte and healthy. I have asked our portly friend here to allow me to use this photo of him to demonstrate what I want to talk to you humans about today…Feline Obesity. That’s right…obesity. It’s not just for humans. Unfortunately, more than 50% of pet cats in the U.S. are either overweight or obese. That means that most of you people reading this blog are living with a heavy kitty. Don’t be afraid to admit it…you know who you are.
The reason why it is important to talk about the feline obesity epidemic, is that being so tremendously overweight can put your feline overlords at risk for many health problems. These include:
-Fatty Liver Disease (Hepatic Lipidosis)
-Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
So, now if you are not already certain, you may be wondering…”Is my beloved cat too heavy?”. There are some ways for you to determine this. It is not so easy to just go by weight as there is quite a variation in body size for house cats. Most healthy domestic felines should weigh between 8 and 12 lbs. If your kitty happens to be one of the larger breeds, like the Maine Coon Cat, then 15 to 22 lbs may in fact, be normal. For this reason, it is easier to see if your cat is of a good “body condition score”. I am posting a body condition score chart here that demonstrates what a healthy weight cat should look like. An ideal body condition is scored as a “5” out of “9”. A “1” would be severely emaciated and a “9” would be morbidly obese.
Now that you are more clear on where your master falls on the spectrum of body weight wellness, you may be wondering “But why is my feline master so fat? He barely eats anything!”. The truth is, that he likely is eating way too much. Many humans do not realize that their kitties are eating too much, because they leave food out for them all day. This type of “free choice” feeding, although convenient for the human slave, is just not helpful for the cat who is trying to maintain an optimal feline physique. The number of calories (kcal) that your kitty eats each day is the main determinant as to whether he or she will be too heavy. As foods vary widely in their kcal content, it is important to know how many kcal/cup your dry food contains or kcal/can for wet food. Once you know this, Dr. Stephanie and Dr. Jeff can help you to formulate a plan for safe weight loss.
If you think that your cat may need to be on a weight loss program, don’t just start one on your own. If you do not feed enough food, your beloved kitty could lose weight too quickly. This could put her at risk for the dreaded “Fatty Liver Disease” which can be life threatening. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss how much weight your cat would need to lose to be healthy, and your doctor can give you a safe plan for achieving that goal. There are special diets designed to help cats lose weight that your veterinarian can prescribe. The vet will also want to talk to you about healthy snacking and exercise.
I hope that this information was helpful. Remember, you can always call Dr. S and Dr. J at For Cats Only to make an appointment for nutritional and weight loss counseling for your feline masters.
This is Nigel, signing off! Meow.