Is Your Cat Fat?

Persian Harlequin Cat, 6 Months Old, Sitting In Front Of White BAh, fat cats; it seems as though Garfield started a trend. Many food-motivated cats are just fine, but other overweight cats may be at risk of some serious medical conditions. It is important to keep track of your pet’s eating habits along with any weight changes that you might notice. Here, we’re going to talk about some ways that you can help your cat get in the best shape possible and how to further prevent weight gain.

If you are concerned that your cat is overweight, your veterinarian can help you figure out if it is a health hazard or not. The number one health problem for indoor cats is obesity. The first thing to do if you think that your cat is overweight is to perform a routine check:

1. Feel your cat’s ribs. You should be able to easily feel your cat’s ribs. If you can see the cat’s ribs, they are underweight. If you can’t feel the ribs at all, the cat is seriously overweight. There should be fat over the ribs but not so much that you can’t find the ribs at all.

2. Feel the area on your cat’s back near the base of their tail. This should feel similar to the ribs; you should be able to feel the bones but not see them. If you can’t feel these bones at all, the cat is overweight.

3. Feel any other bony areas. This includes the spine, shoulders, and hips. You should be able to feel some fat covering these areas, but they shouldn’t be too skinny or too fatty. If you can’t feel these bones at all, you’ve got a fat cat. If you can easily see these bones, the cat is underweight.

4. Look at your cat from above. You should be able to see your cat’s waist behind their ribs. If you can’t see a waist or the area between your cat’s ribs and hips is wider than their hips or ribs, they are overweight.

5. Look at your cat from the side. The area behind their ribs should be smaller than the chest. This is called an abdominal tuck. If your cat is overweight, they will not have this feature.

This proud cat is quite fat.

This proud cat is quite fat.

If you’ve determined that your cat is overweight, there are steps that you can take to help your cat get back to a healthy weight. Don’t do anything drastic, like cut food consumption way down, because this could make your cat very ill. The two factors that play into your cat’s weight are their diet and their activity level. There are ways to better both of these factors, which will in turn heighten your cat’s quality of life overall.

Make them work for it. One great tool to help fat cats lose weight is a “foraging device.” These can be purchased at any pet store or online. These are designed to make mealtime an activity for your cat by forcing them to work for their food. Cats aren’t too stubborn to work hard for their meals and will benefit from the exercise that it brings. This type of feeding system also helps to slow down your cat’s mealtime, making it more difficult for them to stuff their face without realizing that they’re full.

Put them on a diet. Your veterinarian can help you figure out the best type of “diet food” to feed your cat. This may mean combining wet and dry food, or choosing a high-protein low-carbohydrate based kibble. Make sure to ask your cat’s permission when changing their diet by offering them the new food and giving them time to feel it out.
Some cats don’t like certain flavors or textures, and if your cat doesn’t immediately respond to the new food, give them some time or try a different brand. Set the new food next to the old food. This signals to your cat that it is OK for them to try the new food. You should also check the recommended serving sizes for your cat’s food. It is likely that what’s recommended on the bag is actually too much, as the standard recommendations are for active animals. If your cat is sedentary and lays around most of the time, they’ll need less food than an outdoor cat.

Increase activity. It is important that your cat is in a stimulating and comfortable environment. There are interactive toys that you can purchase to influence your cat’s activities and keep them on their feet. Give them plenty to climb and jump on. Cat trees and window slings are great ways to encourage your cat to seek out new places to enjoy.
Purchasing a foraging toy as previously mentioned turns mealtime into a fun activity. Help your cat use their energy positively with string toys and chase toys. You can also purchase electronic chase toys to entertain your cat while you’re away. Make sure that the environment that your cat is in isn’t scary to them, because if they are constantly in hiding, they won’t be able to get proper exercise.

If your cat is fat, you should talk to your veterinarian about solutions, and have your kitty checked for any other health ailments. There could be an underlying reason as to why your cat is a bit husky, or it could be completely fine. Your veterinarian will take blood samples and do other routine checkup procedures to make sure that your kitty is in good working order. Your cat can certainly get back in good health with effort, patience, and lots of playtime.