Weight loss is tough for anyone – two- or four-legged! However, losing weight and getting in shape can not only add years to your cat’s life, but it can also make those extra years more enjoyable. Helping your furry feline to shed a few pounds may be easier than you think. It simply requires a commitment to weight loss and fitness, attention to details, and the assistance of your veterinary healthcare team.
Why should my cat lose weight?
As little as two pounds above the ideal body weight can put your cat at risk for developing some serious medical conditions. Unfortunately, when a cat is overweight or obese it no longer is a question of if your cat will develop a condition secondary to the excess weight, but how soon and how serious. Some of the common disorders associated with excess weight include:
- type 2 diabetes – an obese cat is three times more likely to develop this serious disease than a cat of normal weight
- heart disease
- osteoarthritis (arthritis)
- increased frequency of joint injuries
- high blood pressure
- some forms of cancer – especially intra-abdominal cancers
Overweight and obese cats usually have shorter lives than their fitter, normal weight counterparts do. Heavy cats tend to physically interact less with their families and are less energetic and playful. Because they tend to lie around more, it is easier to overlook early signs of illness, since we may attribute their lethargy to their normal laziness. We are just now learning how serious and threatening a few extra pounds can be for both humans and our cuddly companions.
How should I begin a weight loss program for my cat?
Theoretically, weight loss seems simple enough: fewer calories in plus more calories out equals weight loss. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that. You should never put an obese cat on a diet without veterinary supervision.