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Overweight Cat - Feline Obesity and Cat Weight Loss Tips

Updated on March 16, 2009

Feline Obesity

It's not just a problem in humans. Our pet cats can become obese, as well. Statistically, about 25% of every 2,000 cats are considered heavy (20%) or obese (5%). Obesity is not a fun situation, and at the first signs that you cat is becoming overweight, you want to prevent any further weight gain so that your cat doesn't experience any further health conditions.

On average, check out the following statistics for overweight cats.

  • They are twice as likely to die within the 6 to 12 year mark, which is middle aged for a cat.
  • Three times more likely to develop non-allergic skin conditions.
  • Four and a half times more likely to develop diabetes mellitus.
  • Obese cats are seven times more likely to require veterinary care for lameness generally caused by joint diseases, such as arthritis or muscle injuries, whereas heavy cats are three times more likely.

Overweight cats are typically pretty noticeable. But, if you're not quite sure whether your cat is overweight or not, you can tell by a few tell-tell signs that include:

  • A sagging belly
  • Extra padding making it hard to feel the ribs (you don't want to be able to see the ribs by any means, but you do want to be able to feel them slightly)
  • Lazy
  • Difficulty reaching its back or bum to wash

by Becky E
by Becky E

Causes of Obesity

Obesity can be caused by a number of reasons. Typically overfeeding and lack of exercise will be the main cause, but other causes of obesity in cats can include:

  • Age
  • Breed
  • Food brand or type
  • Indoor cats or cats with little outdoor access
  • Male cats
  • Medication
  • Non-pedigree cats
  • Physical environment
  • Single cats
  • Social environment (changes can cause stress)
  • Spayed/neutered

And, you know what? Some cats, like people, may not follow any of the above characteristics but they can just be pre-disposed to obesity problems.

Remember that obesity can be a big problem that leads to other health problems, so at the first signs of your cat gaining too excess weight, you should consult your veterinarian.

Health Conditions Caused by Obesity

Although, obesity is a major health condition on its own, causing cats to have shorter lifespans, the extra weight can cause other health problems, making teo overall situation much more unhealthy.

You'll find the following health concerns very common for overweight cats.

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes mellitus, specifically late onset diabetes
  • Hepatic lipidosis (type of liver disease)
  • Lameness due to arthritis
  • Cystitis (lower urinary tract disease

by rauchdickson
by rauchdickson

Treating and Preventing Feline Obesity

The best treatment for obesity is prevention. At the first signs that your cat is gaining a little too much weight, is the moment you need to start reducing your cat's treats, changing to a different cat food, reducing the amount of cat food your provide, and increasing the amount of exercise your cat gets.

You should also consult your vet if your cat starts gaining weight all of a sudden just in case that there is an underlying condition.

When trying to get your cat to lose weight, you want to do so gradually. You don't want to make your cat lose excessive weight all of a sudden. (It's bad for your body, and it's bad fr your cat's.)

If your cat undergoes a crash diet, he can develop a potentially fatal disorder called Hepatic Lipidosis, or fatty liver, which you can spot by the following signs:

  • Anorexia
  • Behavioral or neurological changes such as drooling, blindness, semi-coma or coma, and seizures (occasionally)
  • Jaundice
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

The main course of treatment is going to be diet. You can consider one of a number of commercial weight loss diets for your cat. Many people like the high protein diet because the amino acid, Carnitine, is important for muscle tissues and it helps to uptake and storage of fat reserves and conversion of fat to glucose.

Cat Weght Loss Diet

Before putting your cat on any diet, you want to consult your veterinarian first.

Remember that you do not want to put your cat on a diet that will cause him to lose tons of weight fast. This will cause more health problems in the long run. You want to put your cat on a diet that will be safe and healthy for him.

A few tips that you may want to consider can include the following:

* Increase meats and proteins.
* Reduce carbohydrates.
* Eliminate feeding table scraps.
* Provide a multi-vitamin supplement (Nu-Cat is the best).
* Increase daily exercise and physical stimulation.

While your cat is on a diet, it is best to weigh him at least once every two weeks so that you can monitor the weight and monitor the diet. This way you can make changes as needed to the diet, in order to insure that your cat becomes a healthy, long-lived feline.

You should also check out these tips about feeding cats, types of food, and feeding schedules so that you can insure that your cat is kept on a healthy staple diet: Feeding Pet Cats: Cat Food, Diet, and Scheduling

An important thing to remember that your cat's staple diet is very important, so you want to make sure that you provide a high quality cat food, and that you monitor the treats, scraps, and overall amount of food that you provide for your cat in order to better prevent obesity in your cat.

Pictures of Fat Cats

Click thumbnail to view full-size
by majorsteel25by Gregaliciousby darabidduckieby rauchdicksonby steveybby Xerosinfinityby remomanby Caro Lander
by majorsteel25
by majorsteel25
by Gregalicious
by Gregalicious
by darabidduckie
by darabidduckie
by rauchdickson
by rauchdickson
by steveyb
by steveyb
by Xerosinfinity
by Xerosinfinity
by remoman
by remoman
by Caro Lander
by Caro Lander

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.


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    • profile image

      RacerDawg33 6 years ago

      Very informative – thank you. Our Puma was overweight – we were leaving the cat food out all day and she was over-eating. We restricted her to feeding amounts and times and went on a natural reduced-calorie cat food called Ultra, and both these things helped her to trim down. She looks great now and is much happier it seems.

    • golffitnesshelp profile image

      golffitnesshelp 6 years ago from Manchester UK

      A great article thank you. I liked all the description and detail that was covered about what makes a cat obese, how to stop it, even diet tips for the cat.

      Must admit I am going to point a few of my friends on facebook to this site as their cats look like water filled balloons on the floor when they sit down.

    • profile image

      B Biel 7 years ago

      Obesity is linked to castration (spay/neuter). This is because sexual hormones are metabolic steroids. Don’t castrate your animals. Sterilize them. For males: vasectomy, for females: hysterectomy (removal of just the uterus NOT ovaries).

    • thehands profile image

      Jorge Vamos 7 years ago

      I'm trying to walk my cat with some degree of frequency so she won't be so fat.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      So you incorporate a little of the raw diet? I've heard that is supposed to be one of the best.

    • Webmatron profile image

      Webmatron 8 years ago from Haifa, Israel

      I noticed that when I got my family on a more natural diet, the cats started to trim down and get healthier too, from the scraps. I have the butcher give me the scraps from when they trim my meat, and also buy scraps. I have big cats now, but none of them are fat. Also I noticed that the females have started being almost as big as the males. The size differential is much, much smaller since we started giving them actual meat and not just cat food.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      That is good to hear that you have figured out the problem and you're now able to keep your cat's weight under control. It's just sad that it was such an ordeal for him.

    • profile image

      Joy Lindquist 8 years ago

      Great article and information that every person living with kitties should have! Another health problem caused by obesity is megacolon. I adopted my cat Henry 7 years ago from a shelter where he weighed in at a whopping 23 lbs! Unfortunately a health condition he soon developed because of his weight was megacolon. Megacolon is where the colon is enlarged and can no longer function efficiently, creating severe constipation that can be life-threatening. The only treatment is daily laxatives or surgery. The constipation quickly causes an obstruction that is so severe that food can't be taken in and there is constant vomiting. My cat was hospitalized for 3 days in an effort to unblock the obstruction. We have gotten his weight down to normal, and I am able to control the problem through his diet, but he still gets episodes occasionally.

      Thank you for your great article!

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      It's just like overweight dogs or people. The extra weight can cause other health problems. Yes, exercise does matter; plus may strays have underlying health issues that prevent the added weight. And they generally aren't fed a stable diet.

    • mayhmong profile image

      mayhmong 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Didn't know cats can develop that many problems being overweight?! Its odd that the stray cats are fed scrapes and don't gain as much weight as the indoor house cat. Exercise does matter!

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Very informative hub for cat lovers Whitney. I am always sad to hear about people feeding their cats unhealthy foods, which seems to be quite common.