Thursday, April 15, 2010

Question: Feline Obesity

Dr. Schaeberle,

My cat currently weighs in at 21 lbs, the same size as my small dog! What can I do? I can see that my cat’s weight is starting to effect his overall happiness.



Dear Missy,

A few weeks ago I answered a question on obesity in dogs. Today I would like to discuss the growing problem of obesity in cats.

Is a feline obesity problem?

Yes! Obesity is defined as an excess of body weight of 30% or more and is the most common nutritional disease in cats today. It is estimated that about 40% of all adult cats are obese, and there are many more that are simply overweight. Obesity in cats is a known risk factor for type II diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and some forms of cancer. In general, diabetes is probably the most common disease we see in obese cats. Another health concern is a disease called hepatic lipidosis. This is a severe form of liver failure in cats. Hepatic lipidosis typically occurs in cats that are obese and have undergone a brief period of stress and anorexia.

There are many factors that contribute to obesity in cats. A cat’s family genetics can lead to obesity, while other factors are related to diet and environment. It is important for the cat owner and veterinarian to keep these factors in mind when treating feline obesity. Indoor cats are more prone to obesity perhaps because they tend to eat out of boredom. Also indoor cats have less opportunity to stay trim through exercise. An indoors cat’s exercise routine can include play with puzzle toys, feathers, laser pens and hunting games with mice.

Next week I’ll share more tips on cat weight loss and tools to conquer cat obesity.

Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.

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