Obesity in Cats, a Serious Disorder

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Globally, more than 1.9 billion adults are termed obese. While the number has tripled since 1975, according to the World Health Organization, the number of cats termed overweight raised to 50% reports a study. However, veterinarians opine that obesity can reduce a cat’s life to a great extent.

What is Cat Obesity?
The term obesity can be defined as unintentional weight gain due to overconsumption of calories. The same nutritional effect can be applied to cats. The number of obese cat cases has increased over time by almost 50%. Pampering your cat and giving him food every time he meows may lead to overconsumption of food, thus leading to excess calories and ultimately obesity. Vets report that this unintentional weight gain generally occurs in middle-aged cats, within the age of 5 to 10 years.

Indoor Cats are Obese
Indoor cats are prone to obesity. “I believe post neutering, cats generally gain a lot of weight”, said Crystal Gonsalves, a pet parent. Obesity in cats has 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 3.5 kgs to 4 kgs, Shanu is overweight. He was an active feline right from his birth till the age of 2. 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 worsened day by day. So much so, that the infection developed a hole and had maggots in it. With no hope of surviving, his owners had given up. An animal rescuer then came to his aid and took Shanu to a foster home in Goregaon. For 30 days, he was locked in a cage and was treated there. He was neutered and sterilized and was given multiple vaccinations. The hyperactive outdoor cat that once ran to the door as soon it was opened had now turned into an indoor one. After his infection was treated and he was brought back home, Shanu’s diet switched from chapatti and milk and chicken to packaged food. His food intake was comparatively less, but his weight increased with every passing day. Eat at different time intervals and sleep, these were the only two activities he indulged in. From 3 kgs, the cat’s weight suddenly shot up to 7, making him obese. His family, now tries to control his calorie intake and sends him outdoors to get him back to his ideal weight, narrates PrescillaVaz, pet parent of Shanu from Andheri, Mumbai.

Wet Over Dry Food
The carbohydrate intake in dry foods is more in wet food. Adult or middle-aged cats are called to be poor water drinkers. Since wet food allows the cat to sip water along with nutritional food, he 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 diet for your cat.
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.

Exercise and Diet
To prevent obesity, it is necessary to put your cat on diet. Schedule your cat’s eating time and do not just free feed every time he asks for it. Cats sometimes eat out of boredom or robbers as they are called to be, steal from your plate and eat till their stomach hurt.

“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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About the Author: Fiona Vaz

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