Fat cats are cute and cuddly. Their appetite makes for amusing anecdotes. But too much fat can kill cats, as veterinarians say that obesity can reduce a cat’s life by a great extent.
The number of humans who are obese is also increasing exponentially. Today, there are 1.9 billion obese humans on the planet and this number tripled since 1975, according to WHO. At the same time, the number of cats which can be termed overweight have also increased by 50%, according to a 2011 study by Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).
What is Cat Obesity?
The term obesity can be defined unintentional weight gain due to overconsumption of calories. The same nutritional effect can be applied within cats. Pampering cats and giving them food every time they meow is one the major causes of excessive food intake, leading to obesity. Vets report that this unintentional weight gain generally occurs in in middle-aged cats, within the age of 5 to 10 years.
Indoor Cats are Obese
Other than overfeeding, lack of activity can also turns cats obese. “I believe that after neutering, cats generally gain a lot of weight,” said Crystal Gonsalves, a Mumbai-based pet parent. Obesity in cats leads to severe disorders and adverse health effects. A cat is easily prone to diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, certain cancers and shortens their lifespan by over two years, states Pets World.
Shanu, is a young indie cat who lives in Mumbai and weighs 7 kgs. While the average weight of a house cat ranges from 3.5kgs to 4, he is clearly overweight. “He has been an active feline right from his birth till the age of two. He used to play around and chase other cats, get into fights or run behind female cats quite often. Last year, he developed an infection on the side of his neck which lead to a hole and maggots started living in it,” said Prescilla Vaz, the parent of the cat.
Shanu was taken to a foster home and locked in a cage for 30 days, during treatment. He was also neutered and given multiple vaccinations. The hyperactive outdoor cat soon became an indoor one.
After he came home, Shanu’s diet switched from chapatti and milk to chicken to packaged food. His food intake was still low but his weight increased with every passing day and he only ate and slept. His weight ballooned to seven kilos from three earlier. Vaz is now trying hard to reduce her cat’s weight by controlling the food intake and goading him outdoors.
Wet over Dry food
The type and kind of food also has an impact on weight. For example, carbohydrate content within dry foods is more than in wet foods. Adult or middle aged cats are known to be poor water drinkers. Since wet food has allows the cat to sip water along with nutritional food, it prevents them from dehydration and helps balance the diet. According to Dr. Karen Becker at Healthypets.com, a balanced, moisture dense, fresh meat diet that could be homemade or through a retailer would be an ideal cat diet.
Since cats are said to be less active than other pets like dogs, they lack exercise. A cat’s bones and joints and its digestive organs are severely impacted by weight gain and obesity. Changes in metabolism also result in weight gain.
“Increasing exercise, although challenging in some cats, can be very rewarding. Cats tend to have short attention spans, so activities usually don’t last more than a few minutes. Rotating through different toys that stimulate multiple senses can be very beneficial. As little as 15 to 20 minutes per day can help with weight loss,” says Dr. Demarco at Catster.com.
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