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How do I know if my cat is overweight?

We all want what’s best for our cat, and many cats have different needs. Deciding how much to feed a cat and recognising if they are overweight can be difficult. Learn what causes obesity and how to prevent it to ensure your cat leads a healthy lifestyle.

To determine if your cat is overweight, you shouldn’t just look at their weight; you need to take their body shape into account as well. According to the PDSA PAW Report 2013, only 5% of cat owners look at body condition score (body shape) before deciding how much to feed their pets.

The report also revealed that owners are often unaware that their cat is overweight. Many cat owners with overweight pets believe their cats to be an ideal weight.

What causes obesity in cats?

Overfeeding is the obvious cause of obesity in cats, and your vet can advise you on how much to feed your pet. But too many unhealthy treats are a key concern. While you may be giving your cat the correct quantity of their normal food, if you give them too many treats then you could be overfeeding them. Cats should only be given healthy treats occasionally.

If you live in a multi-cat household, the dominant cats in your home could be eating more than their fair share without you realising. Therefore, it is essential to provide plenty of feeding stations to give all your cats a chance to access their food. You could use a controlled access feeding solution, which uses your pet’s existing veterinary implanted identification microchip to recognise each of your pets. This gives timid cats the chance to feed in their own time and will ensure that dominant cats do not overeat.

Obesity can lead to serious health issues

Obese cats can experience difficulty moving and playing, which only adds to their weight problems. But obesity can lead to more serious health issues, not to mention a shortened lifespan. Obese cats could develop any of the following conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Reduced liver function

How to prevent your cat becoming obese

  • Speak to your vet to find out how much you should be feeding your cat
  • Cats like to graze when they eat so ensure food is readily available at all times so that they can adopt a natural feeding regime
  • Do not give your cats too many treats
  • Play with your cat – exercise will help to keep their weight down
  • Install a cat flap so that they can exercise outdoors
  • In multi-cat households, provide plenty of feeding stations to discourage one cat eating more than another, and consider a controlled access feeding solution to help control the eating habits of different animals. 
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