The veterinarians at Cat Care are now more likely to see cats that are overweight or even obese, than to see cats that are their ideal body weight. Nowadays, most people don’t know what an ideal body weight looks like on a cat. The ideal body weight is determined not just by the number on the scale, but by the cat’s overall characteristics. Obesity is a serious health risk and can take a major toll on your cat’s overall health and longevity.
Approximately 50% of all cats are overweight and 25% of cats are considered obese. Obesity occurs when there is an extra storage of fat. Cats are considered obese once they are at least 20% above their ideal body weight. Older cats, less active cats and overweight spayed females are most at risk for becoming obese. Cats that are fed bottomless bowls of food are also more likely to be obese than others.
The Cat Care veterinarians use a five score body condition scoring chart to determine if your cat is at a healthy weight or not. Cats who have an ideal body weight have a body score of 3. Their ribs are easily felt with a slight fat covering. The base of the tail has a smooth contour with a slight fat cover. When viewing the side of the abdomen, it appears tucked and when looking down at your cat, she has a well portioned waist.
An overweight cat has a body condition scoring of a 4; which means the ribs are difficult to palpate under a moderate fat cover. The base of the tail has some thickening, while the bones are palpable under a moderate fat cover. The side view has no abdominal tuck and overview (or looking down at the cat’s back) is slightly broadened at the waist.
Obese cats have a body condition score of 5. This means that the ribs are difficult to feel under a thick fat cover. The base of the tail is quite thickened and difficult to feel under a thick fat cover. There isn’t a visible waist when viewing from the side and fat hangs from the abdomen. The overview is markedly broadened.
When your cat has a body condition score of 4 or 5, he or she is at an extremely high risk for developing health problems caused by the excess weight. Diabetes mellitus is high among cats who are overweight. Diabetes mellitus is a disease caused by an insufficient production of or response to the hormone insulin; insulin is essential for regulating blood sugar.
Overweight cats are prone to osteoarthritis, which is characterized by the erosion of cartilage. Cartilage is the smooth tissue in joints that protects the ends of bones from painfully rubbing directly against each other.
Cardiovascular problems can arise when excess weight places an extra burden on the cat’s heart and vascular system. Overweight weight cats are also prone to ruptured cruciate ligaments and hip dysplasia since the excess weight causes the ligament to weaken and potentially tear more easily.
Other health related problems due to obesity include labored breathing, exercise fatigue/intolerance, greater risk for heat stroke/heat exhaustion, greater susceptibility to fatty liver disease and a reduced life span.
It’s important to realize that 1 to 2 pounds of additional weight per year really adds up to large amounts of weight gain over time. For example, two additional pounds in one year on a cat is equal to twenty-eight pounds on a 140 pound woman; and three more pounds on a cat is the equivalent of forty-two extra pounds on a 140 pound women.
How can you help your cat fight against obesity? Call the veterinarians at Cat Care in Rochester Hills and ask them how many calories your cat needs per day to maintain an optimal weight. If the veterinarian informs you that your cat is overweight, the veterinarian can let you know how much weight your cat can lose safely per month to reach their optimal weight. Cats must lose weight gradually over several months, any faster may result in liver problems. Remember, one cup of dry food can be over 400 calories, and an average 10 pound cat only needs about 180 to 200 calories a day. Use a measuring cup when feeding to ensure you’re giving the precise amount that’s recommended.
Give us a call to so we can help you manage your cats weight. They will be healthier, feel better, and live longer.