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Is Your Cat Too Fat?

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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Diet and nutritional status are crucial to your cat's general health. Unfortunately, many pets are overweight – much like their owners. And – like their owners – pets are not as healthy when they are carrying too much weight. Chubby kitties often suffer from arthritis, heart disease and liver problems. If you are concerned that your pet is overweight, here are some ways you can evaluate your pet's body condition.

  • Body fat. Stand behind your cat and place your thumbs on the spine midway down the back. Fan out your fingers and spread them over the ribs. With your thumbs lightly pressing on the spine and fingers on the ribs, slide your hands gently up and down.

    For normal cats, you should feel a thin layer of fat. You should feel the ribs, although you won't readily see them. If your cat is overweight, you will not be able to feel the ribs, and the tissue over the ribs may feel smooth and wavy.

  • Appearance. Normal cats have an hourglass appearance. Fat cats have an abdomen protruding from the sides and a noticeable paunch. There may be enlarged fatty areas on either side of the tail base and over the hips. There may also be a fatty area on the neck and front of the chest. When obese cats walk, they usually have a classic waddle.

    If you feel that your cat is overweight, contact your veterinarian. Tests may need to be performed to eliminate underlying disease as a cause of the obesity. In addition, your veterinarian can help you improve your cat's body condition and overall health.

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