Recently, I saw a 1-year-old cat who was 15 pounds. Little Linette should have weighed 10 pounds at the most. That means she is 50% overweight.
Her little head was teetering on a massive baked potato of a body held up on toothpicks. If Linette keeps going at this rate, she will be boarding the arthritic diabetic train before you know it.
A recent review in Clinician’s Brief outlined the top consequences of obesity in our pets, and shed light on the interesting fact that obesity affects cats somewhat differently from dogs. Last week, we talked about the health effects of obesity in dogs. Today we cover the risks of obesity in cats.
The top 5 health consequences are:
Oddly enough, obesity actually adds to more overt disease in cats than in dogs. Obese cats are far more prone to diabetes, an expensive and worrisome condition to treat. Just as with the obesity epidemic in children in America, we know that getting weight off a young fat cat will lower the risk of many diseases as that cat ages.
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Remember my young patient Linette. Nobody likes being the fat kid in school. Get her ready for kitty-garden!
2. Urinary Problems
Urinary problems in cats can be a nightmare for caretakers. And the kitties aren’t too happy either. Maintaining a good weight in your feline friend lowers the risk of lower urinary tract disease.
Kitties who live life at a normal weight are more active, have less stress and live a more enriched life. Less stress, we believe, means fewer urinary problems.
Similar to dogs, obese kitties suffer from more arthritic pain than normal-weight cats.
Most arthritis is a degenerative condition found in aging cats. Think of older indoor cats that have been munching constantly on dry food for the past 15 years. They are obese, they can’t reach their backs to groom and they are putting excess stress on every joint every time they jump down from the food bowl.
The brief answer is wet food instead of dry, portion control and more exercise for these kitties.
4. Subclinical Conditions
Cats can hide subclinical disease very well. Pancreatitis, GI disease and even early diabetes can go unnoticed for a while. Get your kitty back to a healthy weight before these conditions of obesity set in.
5. Poor Quality of Life — and a Shorter Life
Remember, most pets can’t use a can opener or open the refrigerator door by themselves. In this case, we are the keepers of the pantry. We are to blame for putting our pets at risk from obesity.
I hate sounding like a schoolmarm or an aerobics trainer on this issue. I sympathize! My Wally-dog has the perennial “Please, ma’am, can you spare Oliver Twist a morsel?” kind of eyes. And the cats? The little paw goes up near the food bowl and the expression says, “It’s been a week since I last ate. Can’t you see I’m starving?”
Hold fast, pet parents!
- Deborah Linder, DVM, DACVN, “Top 5 Clinical Consequences of Obesity,” Clinician’s Brief, February 2014, Vol. 12, No. 2.