Obesity in cats
Obesity is an excess of body fat that is enough to impair health, welfare and quality of life. The main cause is from eating too much or not exercising enough, although some diseases can cause obesity.
Obesity is a serious welfare issue in pets because it can cause a lot of unnecessary suffering and can be extremely disabling, not to mention being entirely preventable.
Several factors make obesity more likely in cats. It increases with age and there are links between obese pets and obese owners, possibly as they are less likely to identify obesity.
The risks of obesity
Obesity can cause serious health and welfare problems, and make existing problems worse. This can reduce the length and quality of a pet’s life.
It is linked to serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, joint problems and urinary infections. Obesity is also likely to affect a pet’s mobility and their ability to perform natural behaviours like grooming.
The best way to prevent obesity is by giving the right amount of the right food, along with plenty of exercise. Always read feeding instructions on cat food, and weigh out the appropriate amounts if in doubt. Be careful with treats and be sure to adjust meal amounts accordingly.
There are a few simple checks you can do if you think your cat may be obese. It is difficult to see an obese cat’s ribs due to a layer of fat and there is often a droopy ‘skirt’ under the abdomen. Viewed from above, the back is broad with no obvious waist.
If your pet does not pass these checks, or if you are in any doubt, consult your vet. They will be able to provide a health check and if necessary recommend a weight reduction programme.