As obesity in humans increases, so to is a concerning increase being seen in the rate of obese cats and dogs.

Obesity is considered a disease, and a preventable one at that. It’s thought that up to 35% of pet cats in the US are obese and up to almost half of older cats weighing more than they should.

So what cost is this extra weight having on the health of cats?

No cat should be overweight or obese, and those that are are at heightened risks of serious health problems – just like overweight humans.

Overweight Cat Causes

You don’t have to be Einstein (or the veterinary equivalent) to work out what causes weight gain and obesity in most cats: over eating and lack of activity. Some cats are predisposed to putting on and storing weight due to underlying health issues, and these ones require extra focus and attention in maintaining a healthy weight. It’s important to get a full evaluation and diagnosis of any health conditions at your vet rather than just assuming there’s nothing wrong.

But in many cases, we do have to look at our own habits when it comes to why our cat might be overweight. In so many cases, it comes down to what is being fed, and how much of it. We all love to see our cats happily eating, especially as they get so much joy from it, and it can be so easy to feed too much.

But this is to the detriment of your cat’s health in the long run. The more weight a cat puts on, the more difficult and longer it takes to help them lose it. So clearly, avoiding excessive weight gain in the first place is ideal, but if you’ve adopted an overweight cat, or perhaps just noticed that your cat is carrying extra weight, today is the best day to start doing something about it.

Health Risks for Overweight Cats

Fat cats are at increased risk for a lot of health problems, with many of them being very serious.

These include:

  • Reduced life expectancy
  • Increased risk of cancers
  • Higher risk of complications happening under anesthetic

Quality of Life

A cat carrying excess weight is going to be an uncomfortable cat. This discomfort, and the lowered energy that comes with, results in changes in the behavior of a normal healthy cat. This can range from being even less inclined to move around (thus putting on more weight), difficulty in grooming (leading to matted hair and poor coat), becoming increasingly lethargic, and issues in using the litter box. All of these aspects lead to a decreased quality of life for a cat, and move him further toward a decline in health and increased risk of major health problems.

The Growing Problem of Obesity in Dogs and Cats. Alexander J. German