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Fat Cat = Unhealthy Cat
The number one nutritional problem in cats is obesity. One study shows that 50 percent of cats examined at veterinary hospitals are overweight if not obese. Many owners are not even aware that their cats are overweight. It is hard to tell with all that fur. The way to know for sure is to place your palms over your cats ribs to feel for a layer of fat. If it is difficult to feel the individual ribs then your cat needs to lose some weight.
Your veterinarian will check the body conditioning score (BCS) the same way by palpating along the ribs. Also a visual inspection of the profile from above and from the side will help to assess your cats score from 1 to 9. A score of 9 is grossly obese and 1 is severe emaciation. The ideal BCS is 5. Is it possible that your feline friend needs to lose a few pounds?
Why is it a problem if kitty is carrying some extra weight? Well it is proven that cats with an ideal score live longer and feel better. They are more active and energetic. Obesity in cats has been linked to various health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and .liver problems. Fat cells promote inflammation and can lead to diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. Many older cats are known to develop arthritis and the extra weight will further burden painful joints.
If you suspect your cat is overweight you should consult with your veterinarian to see just how much weight your cat should lose. It is important to discuss dietary changes and find the safest way to accomplish your goals. During your visit the veterinarian will make recommendations about the type and amount of foods to feed your kitty. Cats that lose weight too quickly may develop fatty liver syndrome. There are many types of food to use that include special prescription diets.
Free feeding, is the practice of leaving dry food available for cats at all times. This practice tends to increase consumption because cats are known to ear from boredom. Having actual meal times and training your cat to eat twice a day is very helpful. Feeding canned food encourages mealtime behavior. Puzzle feeding dishes are popular now to slow down feeding and provide stimulation.
Exercise is an important part of any weight loss program. Indoor cats can become sedentary and just lay in the sun. It is up to us to find fun toys and stimulate exercise and activity. They love to simulate hunting and there are many great toys available that get these cats burning some calories. Playful cats are not just looking for their next meal. The mental stimulation improves their quality of life.
Once chubby cats have shed a few pounds, they are energetic and more engaged. Owners report that their cats have a new lease on life and are not always devoted to eating and sleeping. The first step is to have your veterinarian check your cats BCS and set a course for gradual weight loss. It wont happen overnight but your feline friend will be much happier in the long run.