Fat or Fluffy? How To Know When Your Cat is Overweight
As pet owners, we love to spoil our kitties with all the things they love—whether it’s lots of cuddles or their favourite treats. But too much of a good thing can be bad for your kitty. Too many treats and not enough exercise can lead to an overweight or fat cat.
Just like you set health goals for yourself, a diet tailored to your kitty’s specific breed, age, health and lifestyle is critical for his or her lifelong health. Not sure if your cat is fat or just fluffy? Cat in a Flat shows you how to identify an overweight cat and tips on how to keep your fur friend happy and fit.
How to tell if my cat is fat
Your cat’s breed, size, and the length of their fur might make it tricky to know if your cat is fat or simply fluffy. One way to determine if your cat is overweight is by feeling along their rib cage. If you have to press firmly to feel Mr Whiskers’ ribs, this could be a sign of a fat cat.
Another way to know if your cat is fat is by standing over and looking down at them. If you see a slight indentation just above your kitty’s hips, this means they are at a healthy weight. However, if your feline’s sides are bulging out, this could indicate you have a fat cat on your hands.
If your kitty has long fur, it may be particularly difficult to determine by look or feel if they are overweight. If you’re still not sure, consult your vet. A veterinarian can examine your kitty’s weight, rule out possible health issues, and offer tips on how to better manage your fur friend’s diet.
Not sure if your kitty is overweight? The PDSA has some great guidelines
Why is my cat fat?
There can be many reasons why your furry friend is gaining weight. However, the two most common culprits for a fat cat are overfeeding and not enough exercise.
Cats have a reputation as independent and self-sufficient creatures. Therefore, it’s easy for fur parents to let their kitties graze. If you allow your cat access to dry food all day, every day, this is called grazing. However, grazing, or free feeding, can be harmful to your feline. Too much dry food won’t just lead to a fat cat, it can result in dehydration, cause mood swings, and turn your kitty into a picky eater.
What you can do: Felines are habit-oriented, so it’s important to create a feeding schedule and stick to it. Instead of allowing your fur friend to eat all day long, introduce 2-3 smaller meals throughout the day. For example, feed your cat a wet food meal in the mornings, and a dry food meal in the evenings.
If you’re going away and need to book a cat sitter, make sure you leave clear instructions on your fur friend’s daily dietary needs. And always make sure your cat has access to multiple clean water sources, as lots of water is essential to a healthy diet too.
Not enough exercise
The extra fat on your cat might also be because of a lack of proper exercise. Your fur friend is also bound to become less active as they age, which means maintaining a healthy weight can get more difficult over time.
What you can do: Like with feeding, make sure to schedule daily play sessions with your cat. Aim to play with your cat at least twice a day for 15 minutes each time. Depending on how active your cat is, increase the sessions or playtime. Not sure what’s the best way to play with your cat? Check out these great tips!
Why is my cat always hungry?
You probably know that Mr Whiskers refusing to eat could be cause for alarm. But the opposite can be true too. If your fur friend is hungry all the time or overeating, it might be a sign of a sick cat. If you notice any unexplained changes in your kitty’s eating habits, take them to the vet for a check-up.
Your cat might be pregnant, and is eating more because of that. But if your cat is neutered, an increase in appetite could also point to hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or cancer. Hence, you should check with your vet immediately.
Once you’ve ruled out any health risks, here are a few other reasons why your cat is always hungry:
Not only can cats get bored of their food, but they will also eat when bored. Essentially, Mr Whiskers might be thinking: ‘There’s nothing else to do, so I might as well eat.’ This can be an unhealthy habit because it results in weight gain and a fat cat.
What you can do: Cats sleep a lot, but they need mental stimulation during their waking hours. Allowing your cat to spend time outdoors in a safe, enclosed area will provide them with exercise and mental stimulation.
If Mr Whiskers is an indoor feline, ward off the boredom blues by creating a kitty-friendly space. Cat trees, shelves, and puzzle feeders are all great ways to make your home exciting for your fur friend. Don’t forget that playing daily with your cat is also a must to keep them mentally and physically healthy!
If your kitty still seems hungry after large meals, their food might be the problem. Low-quality cat food lacks the essential nutrients your fur friend needs to stay healthy. Hence, your kitty might always be hungry because they aren’t getting the vitamins and nutrients they need from their food. Eating a lot of a high calorie and low nutrient food can also cause your cat to become fat.
What you can do: Check your cat’s food to make sure it has a balance of the five major nutrient groups: proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats, and carbohydrates. Avoid feeding your cat a vegan diet (even if you’re a vegan) as felines are carnivorous and need meat to survive. If you’re not sure how to feed your cat, here are 6 tips to get you started.
It’s possible for your fur friend’s appetite to change as they age. Some cats may experience an increase in appetite or are more keen to indulge in treats as they grow older. However, your ageing feline will also become more sedentary with age, which is why it’s important to keep them active to avoid an unhealthy, fat cat.
What you can do: As mentioned above, make sure you rule out other potential health issues with your vet first. If your senior cat is otherwise healthy but still has a big appetite, you may need to find a food specifically for older kitties, feed your fur friend on a schedule, and limit their portion sizes. Your kitty will complain at first, but after a week or two they will grow accustomed to the diet change, and you’ll have a happier, healthier cat!