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How to Tell if Your Cat is Overweight

Your extra large cat might look cute and cuddly to you but carrying extra weight can pose a serious threat to their overall health and longevity. Today's post looks at health risks for overweight cats and how to help your kitty lose weight. 

The Effects of Weight on a Cat's Health

Maintaining a healthy weight is important to your cat's overall health, even if it's not something you've ever thought about. As with people, obesity in pets comes with a dramatic increase in risk for many serious, potentially life-threatening conditions. Even a few extra ounces can have a significant impact on your cat's health and vitality.

Health Risks For an Overweight Cat

When a cat carries extra weight they have an increased risk of developing several serious health conditions, including:

Cardiovascular Disease

When a cat becomes overweight it can put a strain on their heart, specifically the left ventricle, leading to the potential development of cardiovascular disease.

The severe stress on the heart can lead to:

  • Cardiac Hypertrophy
  • Vascular Hypertrophy
  • Hypertension
  • Myocardial Hypoxia.
Impaired pulmonary function due to decreased lung volume also poses a serious risk for overweight cats.

Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)

Osteoarthritis is common in overweight cats and can lead to an overall decreased quality of life as your cat would be living with the chronic discomfort caused by this condition. Osteoarthritis occurs both with the fatty deposits that can occur around the joints as well as pressure on bones and joints, both caused by excess weight.

Kidney Disease

Kidney issues are also common in cats carrying extra weight. These conditions can include:

  • Enlarged Glomerulus
  • Glomerulosclerosis (scarring of the filtering units in the kidneys)
  • Hypertrophy (enlarged kidneys)

Insulin Resistance / Diabetes

When a cat is overweight it can lead to insulin resistance which can cause impaired glucose metabolism. Diabetes mellitus has also been known to develop more commonly in cats that are obese.

Shorter Lifespan & Poor Quality of Life

Kidney disease, diabetes and osteoarthritis can all result in pain, lethargy, reduced quality of life and a shorter lifespan than would have been expected under different circumstances. 

Signs that You Have an Overweight Cat

Larger Waistline

  • Look down at your cat from directly above while he or she is standing. Look for a small indent above your cat's hips, where their waist should be (this can be a bit tricky with long-haired cats). If you can't see their waist or their sides are bulging, your cat is probably overweight.

Can't Feel Your Cat's Ribs

  • When your cat is at a healthy weight you should be able to slightly feel their ribs by gently running your hand along their chest. If you can't feel your cat's ribs, your cat may be overweight. 

Your Cat Can't Jump

  • Cats are born with the ability to run and jump quickly. If your cat takes several tries to jump up onto their favorite piece of furniture, or if they give up entirely, their weight could be the issue.

Compare Your Cat to Our Overweight Cat Chart

  • Look over the illustration below to get a better understanding of your cat's weight category, and whether your cat may be carrying an extra pound or two.

Overweight Cat Chart, Pine Grove Vet

How to Help Manage Your Cat's Weight

Luckily, with a little time and effort, you can help reduce your cat's weight and help them keep the extra weight off. Here are the simple ways you can do this:

Diet & Nutrition

If your cat is overweight, there is a good chance that you are simply feeding them too much for the lifestyle they lead. By attending regular wellness exams your veterinarian can monitor your cat's weight, calculate their precise calorie requirements and offer tips on the best foods and treats to meet your cat's needs.

In some cases, a higher fiber diet may be recommended to help overweight cats slim down. This is because the fiber helps create feelings of fullness that can allow for smaller amounts of food while providing your cat with the same satisfaction.

Canned wet food is also a popular choice as there is a high water content that helps to create a feeling of fullness. This can also be beneficial as many cats don't drink enough water throughout the day. Canned food can help them to stay hydrated.

Exercise & Stimulation

Exercise is the perfect way to help your cat stay lean. Providing them with cat trees and other structures to climb on can help keep them moving. There are also many interactive toys on the market that allow you to play with your feline friend, keeping them running, jumping and generally having fun.

What happens when there's seemingly no cause?

If your cat has suddenly begun to put on weight without cause, it's time to see your vet. Unexplained weight gain can be a symptom of an underlying health issue. 

Your vet can monitor your cat's overall health, treat any underlying health problems and provide you with guidance on how to help your cat reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned about your cat's weight? Contact our Pine Grove veterinary hospital right away to book a checkup for your feline friend.

New Patients Welcome

Pine Grove Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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(570) 345-0880