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Fat catI’ve written about the rise in obesity in our domestic pets before and now that Casey is sadly one of the statistics, I feel the need to write again.  Having a fat cat or dog, or indoor rabbit, is NOT funny.  It’s not adorable; it’s not cute; it’s not endearing.  It’s downright dangerous.  As with we humans that hold onto our weight, there is a plethora of health issues queuing up to claim our mobility, and sometimes, now more frequently, our lives, this is now true of fat pets. 

Overweight cats are significantly more prone to several serious conditions:

There is a clear link between adult onset diabetes and being overweight.  Cats who are classed as mildly obese are four to five times more likely to develop diabetes.  Weight reduction alone, in some cases, is enough to allow a diabetic cat to come off treatment.

Joint disease is more common in older cats than was previously recognised, and will be greatly exacerbated if the joints are having to try to support excess body weight.

Lower urinary tract disease is significantly more common in overweight cats, probably because they are less active, empty their bladder less frequently, and so do not flush out debris as effectively.

There is an increased risk during anaesthesia, as well as a higher chance of developing post-operative complications, should any form of surgery become necessary.

Most domestic cats lead a more sedentary life than their predecessors, and we obligingly provide a ready supply of food so they have no need to hunt for their next meal.  It’s not surprising, therefore, to learn that an estimated 25 – 30 per cent of pet cats in the UK are considered obese, which is defined as being more than 20 per cent above their ideal body weight.  A proportion of pet cats are kept entirely indoors, or with access only to limited runs outdoors, which will further reduce the amount of exercise they get.

Most domestic cats are now neutered, mainly to control the number of unwanted kittens, but also to reduce undesirable behaviours, such as urine spraying and territorial warfare, which are more common in unneutered cats.  Neutered cats need less calories than before they were neutered, so if they are fed the same amount, over time they will put on weight – which can lead to obesity.

There are many ways to help our overweight cats to slim down, but patience will be needed as it is not an overnight job.  It could take several months for your cat’s waistline to reappear.  Don’t be fooled into thinking if you just restrict his meals each day that will be sufficient for him to lose weight.  If he’s an outdoor cat, he may well trot round to a neighbour where he’ll get second or third helpings.  If your cat wears a collar, put a note on his collar to say that he’s on a special diet for health reasons so ‘please do not feed.’  

Casey with BetriceGet help from your vets.  Most run nurse-led weight reduction clinics (which Casey is now attending) and be guided by them, as they have more experience.  No one likes to hear that their beloved cat is obese, or even ‘fat’, but if you’re the one that feeds him, then you have to take responsibility.  I’m not saying blame, but I know from my own experience, that it’s easy to pop a plate of food down if Casey or Gibbs follow me out to the kitchen. 

Next time, I’ll share some tips to help your kitty shed the pounds so that you’ll have a healthier, happier cat by the New Year.    

  

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