Obesity in Cats


In-Depth Information on Obesity in Cats

There are several causes of feline obesity, but whether your cat is overweight because of overfeeding or because of a disease process, she is still taking in more calories than she is using.

Obesity in pets is more commonly due to over-eating (excessive caloric consumption) than disease. The most common cause of obesity is a chronic consumption of calories greater than actual daily energy requirement. Excessive dietary calories are stored as body fat.

Other causes of obesity are due to an altered energy metabolism. Some diseases and conditions can contribute to obesity. The most common is diabetes.

  • Diabetes mellitus – There is a relationship between obesity and diabetes, where overweight and obese animals become insulin resistant. These animals often begin to show the early signs of diabetes mellitus which are excessive drinking, excessive urinating and hunger. As the disease progresses, the cat eventually loses too much weight.

    Call your veterinarian if you suspect that your cat is overweight, or if your pet begins experiencing difficulty breathing or exercising or appears unable to get comfortable. Also, have a veterinarian examine your pet to determine if these abnormalities are present before instituting a weight loss program.

  • Diagnosis In-Depth

    Your veterinarian will want to determine the cause of your cat’s obesity before deciding upon treatment. Diagnostic tests that your veterinarian may wish to perform include:

  • A thorough physical examination, including an accurate measure of body weight and an assessment of body condition score.
  • Assessment of your cat’s current daily intake of all food, treats, snacks, table foods and exercise schedule.
  • Routine blood work consisting of a complete blood cell count, serum profile and urinalysis. If the results are normal, obesity is probably the result of excessive caloric intake and decreased energy expenditure. However, if the results of these routine tests indicate a potential problem, additional tests are warranted to specifically identify the condition.

    Additional diagnostic tests may include:

  • Blood and urine glucose levels: Diabetes mellitus can be diagnosed based upon detecting high blood glucose level and the positive detection of glucose in the urine. Sometimes a series of blood glucose measurements are needed to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Treatment In-Depth

    Therapy recommendations are dependent upon the underlying cause of the obesity. Take your cat to your veterinarian for a complete work-up before beginning a weight loss program to rule out major diseases.

    Recommendations for obesity due to:

    Excessive caloric consumption

  • Lower your pet’s daily caloric intake by 50 percent of that required for her ideal body weight.
  • Change the pet food product to one designed for weight loss and containing:

    – less than 360 kcal per 100 grams of food on a dry matter basis.

    – between 7-12 percent fat.

    – between 10-30 percent crude fiber.

    – greater than 35 percent crude protein.

  • Feed your pet a prescribed measured amount of food several times daily.
  • Give treats only as directed. Use specifically designed low calorie treats or give cooked or raw vegetables.
  • Increase exercise activity.
  • Try getting your pet to swim. Swimming is an excellent exercise for patients with orthopedic disabilities. Unfortunately, many cats hate water and swimming.
  • Return to your veterinarian for monthly visits for a weight check and appropriate adjustments in meal size.
  • Diabetes Mellitus

  • Often in the management of diabetes, a dietary change to a veterinary therapeutic diet is necessary for controlling blood glucose levels. The food should contain a moderate level of fiber (5-10 percent) with lowered levels of readily available carbohydrates.
  • Insulin treatments are individualized to the patient.
  • In some cases of feline diabetes, when the cat loses weight the clinical signs of diabetes resolve and occasionally insulin treatments are no longer needed.
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