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Is Your Kitty A Bit Chubby Round the Middle?

Cats come in all different shapes and sizes. They are also covered in lots of fur! So it can sometimes be difficult to determine if your feline is becoming a bit chubby.


Bronson @iambronsoncat - 15 kilogram catThis is Bronson. He was adopted at 15 kilograms and his new owners were determined to get him to lose weight and live the life he deserved. Check his story out on instagram (@iambronsoncat) 

  

Wild Cats Don't Get Fat!

 

Have you ever seen a fat cheetah, leopard, tiger or lion in the wild? No you haven’t!! In the wild cats must hunt for their meals they are not delivered to them in a bowl everyday.

Having meals delivered, treats and snacks given in between meals plus less movement throughout the day all leads to excess calories gained by the average household kitty cat.

Obesity is an increasingly major problem in cats and it can result in serious adverse health effects and can compromise quality of life.

Obesity increases the risk of many diseases:

 

Diabetes Mellitus

Urinary Tract Diseases

Osteoarthritis

Non Allergic Skin Diseases

Hepatic Lipidosis

Hip Dysplasia

Cardiovascular disease

 

 

And other complications:

 

Decreased stamina and exercise tolerance

Joint stress

Increased anaesthetic risk

Decreased immune function

Breathing problems

 

 

If you want your kitty cat to live to a ripe old age free from pain and disease it is important to ensure that their weight is maintained within healthy limits. Lets face it - it is our responsibility as pawrents to ensure that our kitty cats don’t get fat, we are the ones that are putting food in front of our fur babies to eat.

 

Kitty cat with Bowl full of kibble - Ziggy Belle 

 

What Causes Obesity in Cats

 

The main reason for obesity in cats is due to an imbalance between energy intake and energy usage. This is likely due to more dietary carbohydrates and less exercise. Indoor cats are more at risk of becoming overweight due to lack of physical activity.

There are other more serious causes of obesity such as hypothyroidism which is something that will need to be treated along with a healthy diet.

Interesting Facts About Obesity In Cats:

  • Interestingly purebred cats are less likely to develop obesity than moggies and neutered cats tend to gain weight more easily

  • Cats under 2 are less likely to be overweight, whereas cats between the ages of 2 and 10 years require less energy and therefore obesity is more of a risk

  • Senior and geriatric cats over 10 years generally have problems with being underweight

 

How Did Ziggy Get Fat?

 

Ziggy at the Vet - Ziggy BelleWhen Ziggy was 5 years old she had a major operation to remove a bacterial skin infection from her tummy. During her recuperation period we were responsible fro giving Ziggy too many treats. Due to the fact we also had to keep her indoors more she was not getting as much exercise as normal and she quickly became overweight.
 
Cats in the wild don’t eat carbs in the form of kitty kibble & treats. It is only their domesticated counterparts that get to enjoy the feast that is a bowl filled with delicious kibble. Or a bowl full of custard or yogurt or a little piece of ham or turkey.
 
Free feeding a diet that is very energy dense is a major factor which leads to obesity. The practice of allowing cats access to a bowl of kibble food throughout the day is not recommended.

 

Does Your Cat Need To Go On A Diet?

 

Our vet at the time told us that each kilogram in weight gain for a cat is like 8 kilogram weight gain in a human - so if you think about it like that - 1 kilogram is a lot.
 
Once our vet told us that Ziggy had a weight problem we stopped allowing her to have biccies available to her all day and we started giving her set meats twice per day.
 
Cats are obligatory carnivores which means they need high protein diets for health and wellbeing.
 
Canned food typically has a higher protein content than kibble and is normally has a higher content of water. If your kitty cat has developed a urinary tract infection as a result of being obese a diet high in water is highly recommended.
 
We were advised to switch to a lower calorie diet food called Metabolic by Hills Science Diet. We gave half biccies and half meat and we seriously cut down on the number of treats we gave her.

 

Ziggy Breakfast - Ziggy BelleZiggy now has her meals portioned up into Meat and Biccies served separately and given twice a day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sciencey Stuff

 

A study performed by University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine has shown that each kilogram increase in weight can lead to about 30% loss in insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance is a risk factor in the development of diabetes. An interesting finding from the same study is that diet had no effect on insulin sensitivity. The only way to permanently control insulin sensitivity is through weight loss and a high protein diet. A high protein diet is the best way for cats to maintain normal insulin levels & preserve lean body mass.
 
It is difficult to dictate a particular bodyweight for cats as it depends on the breed and age of the cat. So to assess if a cat is overweight it is more helpful to look at overall body condition.Your vet will examine your cat by palpating the ribs, lumbar area, tail and head. See Diagram.

 

International Cat Care Body Condition Score - Ziggy Belle

 

An owner can also assess a cat’s physique by using the “Body Condition Score” chart. This assessment involves:
 
(1) a rib check, in which the owner runs both hands, palm face-down, across the animal’s rib cage on either side
 
(2) a profile check, in which the animal is viewed from the side
 
(3) an overhead check, in which the owner looks down on the cat from above. In a severely obese cat, the ribs will not be palpable under a heavy layer of fat; there will be heavy fat deposits over the lumbar area, face, and limbs; the abdomen will be distended and the waistline will not be visible.
 
If your cat is diagnosed with obesity it will be because they have an excess of 20% or more above the normal body weight. Cats that have a body condition score greater than 7 are considered to be obese.
 
If you find that your cat is overweight or obese the best thing to do is make an appointment to see your vet so that they can come up with a treatment plan for you and your cat.

 

Cat on Scale

 

Weight Loss Plan For Kitty Cats

 

It is very important that weight loss for felines be very gradual as they are at risk of developing serious health problems such as hepatic lipidosis.
 
To lose weight in the safest manner it is recommended to aim for 2% loss of body weight per week.

 

 

  1. Strict calorie controlled diet

Daily calories needed to maintain ideal body weight

 

So for a cat who has an ideal weight of 5kg that translates to 220 kilocalories per day

 

For weight loss, offer 70% of the maintenance calories

30 times body weight in kilograms plus 70

 

30 X 5kg + 70 = 220 kcal

 

 

 

0.70 X 220 kcal = 154 kcal/day

 

  1. No snacks in between meals

 

Even if your kitty cat gives you sad kitty eyes - no treats!

 

  1. More exercise & movement

Interactive playtime, puzzle feeders, walks, up & down stairs

Move feeding bowls to different positions, portion food into separate bowls and place in different locations.

 

 

 

Our vet suggested the use of puzzle feeders for Ziggy. Also when giving her kibble we now separate it into several different bowls around the house and use little cups that she has to knock over to get to her kibble. This slows down her consumption which is also helpful for weight loss.

 

Ziggy Puzzle Peeder - Ziggy Belle

 

Interactive toys that get your cat moving are great to increase energy expenditure such as balls and wands that get your kitty cat jumping, pouncing and chasing.
 
We were informed that the dental treats “Greenies” that we give Ziggy are ok as they have minimal calories. Ziggy does love these so when we do give them to her we make sure that she either has to “hunt” for them by hiding them in her treat machine or we make her “chase” them by throwing them down the hallway so she has to run after them to get them!
 
It is best to keep these to a minimum though as you don't want your cat getting in to the habit of asking for these every day! I think the daily feeding guide is about 8 treats a day.

 

Weight Management For Your Kitty

Once your cat has reached their ideal weight it is important to keep a track of it to ensure that they do not regain it. The best way to do this is to schedule monthly monitoring & weigh-ins with your veterinarian.
 
There are certain foods that can help with weight loss or maintenance of weight such as Hills Science Diet Metabolic and Healthy Weight Management.
 
It has taken a few years but Ziggy is now a “normal” weight. At her heaviest she was slightly over 7kgs. In her younger years she was 5.1kgs. Now she is 5.8kgs which is healthy for her age.
 

Before - Ziggy BelleAfter - Ziggy Belle

Yours In Health & Wellness
 
Meow For Now
 
🐾 Ziggy & Sonya 😺
 
 
(Please note that I am not a veterinarian and the information in this article is from previous experiences and vet advice we have gained. I have also researched and provided information that I feel will be beneficial to any cat owner that is interested in the health and welfare of their fur babies.)  

 

References:

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16902186/

https://icatcare.org/advice/obesity-in-cats/

https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/digestive/c_ct_obesity

https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/obesity

https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/ask-elizabeth-care-obese-cats

https://www.petmd.com/cat/centers/nutrition?icn=Nutrition_SubNav&icl=2_cat_nc

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