Feline Obesity - we can help

1st September 2016

In this modern world of ours many of us struggle with the balance between a healthy diet and exercise. This is also a problem for many of our pets in Bollington and sadly too many of them have also become overweight.

Obesity is now the most common form of malnutrition in cats in the UK, with around 25 - 30% of them being obese.

Being a ‘fat cat’ is risky

We’re all familiar with the consequences of obesity in humans, and the health implications are no different in cats. Some of the more common problems we see at Bollington Veterinary Centre are;

  • Diabetes Mellitus – we diagnose more and more cats these days. Most of them tend to be the inactive overweight animals. Unfortunately, managing feline diabetes can often be problematic and frustrating, so it’s best to avoid.
  • Pain – an older cat with osteoarthritis will be subject to more pain and discomfort if it has to constantly move about carrying excess weight.
  • Hepatic lipidosis – fat cats are more susceptible to this very serious and life threatening condition. It’s most likely to occur when an overweight animal is stressed or unwell.
  • Lethargy – most overweight animals tend to be less active. They burn fewer calories and then put on yet more weight.
  • Breathing problems – fat is also laid down in the chest cavity and around the heart. We’ll often see overweight animals with more laboured breathing or a higher respiratory rate.
  • Cystitis – fat is deposited in numerous places in the body. It’s often found in the abdomen and the pelvic region. In cats this can lead to disturbances in voiding the bladder, resulting in inflammation of the urinary system.

Is your cat overweight?

When you live with your pet all the time, it may be hard to notice or know if they have put on weight. At Bollington Veterinary Centre we like to encourage you to look, feel and weigh on a regular basis.

Use the Body Condition Score chart

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) has produced an excellent guide to measuring your cat’s body condition. You can visit their website and download their guide here.

Your cat is overweight if you notice any of the following:

  • Saggy belly – a soft flabby skin flap under the belly is very common
  • No ribs – if you find it hard to feel the ribs, your cat is fat
  • No backbone – if you struggle to work out where the spines of the vertebrae run, your pet is likely to be carrying too much fat
  • Waist not – from above or the side, the profile of a nice slender waistline will be missing

Which cats are most at risk?

The basic physiology of what makes a cat overweight are very similar to those in people, so some of these may not come as a surprise.

  • Breeding – the good old Domestic Short Haired cat or ‘moggie’ seem to be more often affected.
  • Neutered – most cats these days are spayed or castrated for a variety of health reasons. We do notice however that their metabolic rate can reduce by as much as 20%. It’s important therefore to alter the diet of your cat after neutering to balance their calorific needs. We’ll try to go through all of this with you at the time, but please ask one of us if you need help altering their diet.
  • Less active – cats with arthritis or illness are less likely to move about exercising. This may significantly reduce their energy needs throughout the day, so don’t forget to reduce the quantity of food you offer.
  • House cats – any cat that is not able to go out and explore will need fewer calories. Ask us at Bollington Veterinary Centre for help working out the right diet and quantities to feed.

4 ways to help your cat lose weight

  1. Ask us for help – before you start your cat on a weight loss programme, please speak to us for some help and advice. At Bollington Veterinary Centre, our nurses and vets are very experienced at helping with this problem. Call us on 01625 573375
  1. Go slowly – trying to starve a cat into a dramatic weight loss can be very dangerous. They can develop a life threatening condition known as hepatic lipidosis where the liver will shut down. You need to go slowly, often aiming to lose the weight over many months.
  1. Join weight watchers – at our practice we run nurse led weight loss clinics. If you feel your cat fits the’ fat cat’ profile, call us and book an appointment.
  1. Exercise – you can help your pet to do more exercise by using some simple toys and games.