Obesity in Cats

This article first appeared on iCatCare here

The most typical type of malnutrition in pets within the UK is the overconsumption of energy resulting in weight problems.

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It is estimated that between 39 and 52 per cent of cats within the UK are chubby or overweight.

‘Obese’ cats are these which might be at the very least 20 per cent heavier than the optimum weight as a result of extreme fats accumulation.

A cat is ‘chubby’ whether it is 10 to 19 per cent heavier than the optimum weight. Ideally, cats ought to be fed to take care of their optimum body weight. Long-term research have proven that each weight problems and extreme thinness shorten life expectancy.

Assessment of physique situation

Bodyweight can be utilized to evaluate whether or not or not a cat has gained or misplaced weight. However, dictating a weight which is good relies on the age and breed of the cat. Therefore, a scale assessing the physique situation (physique situation rating, BCS) is usually used.

This scale grades the physique situation of the cat from 1-5, the place a BCS of 1 could be very skinny, 3 is good and 5 is overweight. An overweight cat is one by which the ribs are arduous to really feel as they’re coated by a thick layer of fats, there’s a average to thick layer of fats protecting all of the bony prominences, and the cat has a pendulous ‘skirt’ (bulge beneath the stomach), with no waist.

The chart under is a helpful approach to assess your cat’s physique situation, along with its total muscle situation.

Health dangers in weight problems

Obesity will increase the dangers of the event, or the development, of many illnesses (see under).

Risks for improvement of weight problems

Weight acquire happens when cats have a ‘constructive vitality stability’ for an prolonged time frame, that means they’re taking in additional energy than they’re utilizing. The extra vitality is saved as fats. In most cases the physique is ready to regulate vitality consumption so it matches vitality use, sustaining the physique situation round its ‘set level’. However, sure elements can have an effect on this set level and predispose the cat to weight acquire.

Purebred cats are much less prone to develop weight problems than moggies. Neutered cats have a tendency to achieve weight extra simply than whole animals. When a cat is neutered, the metabolic price decreases by about 20 per cent so neutered cats require much less meals than intact cats to take care of physique situation. Activity can contribute markedly to the vitality necessities of a person. Cats with decreased exercise or restricted alternatives for train are at a higher threat of gaining weight than lively cats. Intact cats generally tend to roam. Neutering reduces the will to roam and the quantity of bodily exercise undertaken by the cat declines.

The age of the cat has additionally been associated to the prevalence of weight problems. Cats beneath 2 years of age are much less prone to be chubby, whereas cats between 2 and 10 years require much less vitality and are, subsequently, extra prone to be chubby. Senior and geriatric cats (cats of over 10 years of age) are usually underweight.

Feeding a weight-reduction plan that could be very palatable and vitality dense predisposes cats to overeating and encourages weight problems, particularly if such meals can be found freely or used excessively as ‘treats’. In addition, there are particular medicines that may predispose to weight acquire, both by growing the urge for food or reducing the metabolic price. Drugs generally related to weight acquire embody corticosteroids (reminiscent of prednisolone), amytripyline and cyproheptidine.

Treatment of weight problems

It is harmful for cats to shed some pounds too shortly as a result of this predisposes them to the event of hepatic lipidosis, a doubtlessly deadly liver illness whereby fats is deposited throughout the liver on account of a change in metabolism throughout fasting. A gradual, regular lower in body weight is good; it could take as much as a yr for a severely chubby cat to succeed in its supreme physique situation. A veterinary surgeon can draw up a weight reduction programme that mixes an appropriate feeding and train plan with cautious monitoring. It could be very arduous to see weight reduction in a cat that you’re in shut contact with every day. Regular visits to a veterinary surgeon for weigh-ins may even be certain that weight reduction is just not too speedy.

Cats are carnivores and, not like people and canine, they should have meat of their weight-reduction plan to outlive. A cat’s pure weight-reduction plan consisting of small prey mammals could be excessive in protein and low in carbohydrate. In order for cats to shed some pounds, veterinary diets have been designed that are excessive in protein, low in fats and low in carbohydrate. This helps cats to lose fats while sustaining lean physique mass (ie, muscle).

For recommendation on introducing a brand new weight-reduction plan click here.

In addition to an appropriate weight-reduction plan, cats might be inspired to train both via growing play, or by encouraging motion round the home (strolling up and down stairs both through the use of a pet harness or by transferring feeding bowls and so on).

Puzzle feeders have additionally been found to enhance physical and emotional wellbeing. More info on puzzle feeders might be discovered here.

Maintaining optimum situation

Once a cat has reached its goal weight, it could be preferable to feed a ‘mild’ or low calorie meals. These diets are designed for the much less lively feline and don’t comprise as many energy as the conventional upkeep meals. While it’s arduous to see weight reduction in a cat that you’re watching each day, it’s equally troublesome to see the early phases of weight acquire. Regular weight checks ought to be continued to make sure that the fats doesn’t begin to creep again on.

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sarahicatcare

I’m the feline behaviour specialist at feline charity ‘International Cat Care’. We are about partaking, educating and empowering individuals all through the world to enhance the well being and welfare of cats by sharing recommendation, coaching and keenness.

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