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Cat Obesity - It's harder to spot than you think

Today I found out that my cat is overweight. This hit me, hard.


Lilo (our cat) was appalled by the extra training he had to do.


Like any parent, I see my furry baby as the most incredible, smart and most beautiful cat in the world. I’d never want to do anything that would compromise his health and well-being.


So how did it get to this point? Is it ignorance? Am I just blinded by his beauty? Or is it that I cannot say no to those deep eyes of his?


I honestly think that it’s all the above... Aaaand that my cat is easily a mastermind, the Derren Brown of cats.

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He manages to play me and my wife like fools, getting us to feed him extra on more than one occasion…Pinky and the Brain would be proud.


Our love for him overrides our rationality, and without having the knowledge on cat obesity we unconsciously neglected the truth that slowly crept up on us.


Our Lilo is a Fat Cat without the top hat.


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Being overweight or obese means your cat is storing energy as fat because he is consuming more calories than he is using.


This seems straightforward enough but it seems that most people are in the same boat as I because around 52% of cats in the UK are obese. Strangely, 66% of people we surveyed said that they see their cat’s weight as something important to keep in control.


These numbers show that cat obesity seems to be hard to spot, ironically.

Cats are the backbone of meme culture. This might have desensitized us from the harsh reality that as cute or as funny as an overweight/obese cat may be, control must be taken to not harm the quality of their life.



So how can we tell if Mr Cuddles isn't actually Mr Smuggles…Cakes?


Weight alone isn’t really accurate. Vets use a body condition score to determine the ideal weight of your cat. There are five levels, 3 (the middle ground) being the ideal.

 

There are four checks you need to do to know where you cat lies on the scoreboard.


Ribs:


They must be palpable but not visible. You should be able to feel the ribs easily without putting pressure. To give you an idea, if you hold your hand palm down and feel your knuckles with the flats of the fingers on your opposite hand, it should be the same as feeling the ribs just behind the shoulder blades of a cat of an ideal weight.



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Low hanging fruit:


The cat’s tummy must tuck in slightly, not

stick out. You should be able to notice a waist and they should have minimal abdominal fat. Keep your eye on this. If the abdomen hangs low and drags near the ground, it indicates that the most dangerous and biologically active form of fat is present; Dr Ward calls this condition “Swiffer Cats”.



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Hourglass or Blimp?


To help identify the waist, view your cat from above whilst they are on all fours. The ribs and the hips should form an hourglass shape. If you see a blimp however, sound the alarms!



Spine and tail:


The spine should be like the ribs, palpable but not visible. There shouldn’t be any built up of fat by the base of the tail. To check this, gently squeeze the base of the tail and see if he is stashing any marshmallows.



You are the first line of defence against your cat’s obesity. So, if you ever notice that one or more of these checks are off, speak to your vet about it. Surprisingly, vets usually tread lightly regarding your cat’s weight due to the perceived judgment and emotion that goes with it from the owners.


Make sure to leave your sword and shield by the door and prepare yourself for the cold truth that may hurt, but we’re talking about your cat’s health, trust me it’ll be worth it.


 

If your cat is overweight, interactive play with the Dental Wand is a great way to help them lose weight and clean their teeth.




The vet will likely point out common weight causes for you to take into account:


Obviously, the amount of food that you are giving your cat. Check the guidance written on the food’s packaging and make sure to weigh precise amounts. More of this on our diet plan.


Your cat’s age. Cats aged 2 – 10 tend to be overweight and over 12 years tend to be underweight.


Neutering usually makes the cat less active (not in my case – I know cause of the 3am parties my cat has by himself) meaning they’re more likely to put on weight.


Exercise is not only good to keep their weight in check but also promote healthy mental well-being.


Some medicines can predispose your cat to weight gain e.g. corticosteroids (such as prednisolone), amitriptyline and cyproheptadine.


 

If your cat is overweight or obese below are the keys to getting back your cat’s summer bod. More details to create your cat’s diet plan.

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1. Understand that this process takes time.

A cat should lose around 0.5% - 2% of its weight per month, the whole weight-loss programme usually takes between 6 – 12 months. If you fast your cat or put it through extreme diets it predisposes them to hepatic lipidosis, a potentially fatal liver disease.


2. Talk to the vet.

Discuss dieting with your vet and get their recommendations on food ideal for your cat.


3. Exercise is vital.

You should aim for three, 5-minute intense play periods. Think about what activity would work best depending on your cat’s personality and age. Some options could be to move the food bowl around the house; or to get him to go up and down the stairs for his food.


4. Keep them entertained.

Its amazing how similar cat are to humans. When I’m bored or stressed, what do I do? I EAT (com’on I can’t be the only one). When cats are stressed or bored, they are also more likely to overeat. Use puzzle feeders to make them work for their food, use up energy and pass the time. Also using catnip toys is a great way to grab their attention. Check out this article for more ways of keeping your cat entertained.


 

Keeping your cat in shape is hugely important to prevent your cat’s chances of contracting a serious disorder. Early recognition and awareness are the best tools in your arsenal, so check today what your cat’s body condition score is and start considering what it is that your doing right and what you need to change.


It’s important to keep in mind that cats weren’t always domesticated creatures. In the animal kingdom they are predators, hunters and fierce. They still think that - even though we see an adorable wuvvy duvvy kitty.


Dr Ernie Ward says, “please don’t forget to engage your cats inner predator and encourage it to pounce, leap and prowl every day.” This will help with their mental well-being and their desire to beg for food would decrease, making it easier to keep their weight in check.




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