Cats love lazing around, but the relaxed lifestyle can have serious health consequences. Obesity is a big problem for many pets, and this extra weight can put an enormous strain on their bodies, leading to health issues such as arthritis and diabetes.
Unfortunately extra weight often creeps up on a pet, and owners might not even realise their precious moggy is tipping the scales towards obesity. If you think your cat might have a problem but you’re not sure, a bit of at-home testing is in order. Wait until your cat is relaxed and calm (which is perhaps most of the time) and standing over her, then rub your hands down her body from her neck to her tail. On a healthy cat you should be able to feel just a slight layer of fat and skin over her ribs. You should be able to feel her bones easily. If you can’t feel her ribs easily or you suspect there is a decent layer between her skin and her ribcage, she’s carrying too much weight.
While you are standing over her, look down – a cat sporting a healthy weight should have a visible waistline. If she looks round, or if her tummy sags, she’s probably carrying too much weight – though for cats with long hair it might be hard to tell.
If you suspect your cat is too fat, chances are it’s simply because you are feeding her too much. There are possible medical causes for weight gain, though these aren’t likely. However, there is not harm in taking her to the vet for a check-up to rule out medical causes.
An overweight cat needs to go on a diet, but any changes to her food should be made slowly. A vet-prescribed diet is the best way to ensure you reduce her calories safely.
It’s also a good idea to incorporate some exercise into her routine. While you probably won’t be able to take her for a walk or play fetch in the park, there is much you can do, even indoors, to get your cat moving. Encourage play with cat toys. Dangle a piece of string or run up and down the hall with a feather that she can chase and swat. You can also use a food-dispensing toy that keeps her busy and ensures she doesn’t gobble up her daily meal in one quick bite.
It might take weeks of careful diet and exercise before you notice a change in your cat’s physique but if you are consistent, slowly and surely you will win the battle of the bulge.