The obesity epidemic in this country has not been lost on our cats. A 2011 study by the APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention), stated that more than 50% of domestic cats are considered overweight or obese. Feline obesity is responsible for numerous diseases and disorders, including feline diabetes, arthritis, respiratory problems, heart disease, and liver disease, most of which can be eliminated once your cat is back to a normal weight. Armed with an understanding of feline obesity and a weight management strategy, it is possible to get kitty back to a healthy weight.
Common Reasons for Feline Weight Gain
Physical Activity – Cats gain weight the same way maine coon kittens for sale near me humans do, by consuming more calories than they burn. In nature, food acquisition requires physical exertion. Animals in the wild never know when or where their next meal will be making an appearance, so they are frequently on the hunt. Hunting for food requires a great deal of physical activity. With the domestication of cats, the need to hunt as a means of survival is no longer required; therefore, the physical activity of hunting is not essential.
Nutrition- Cats are strictly carnivorous animals. They were not meant to eat carbohydrates. Cats lack two important enzymes, amylase andglucokinase, which break down and help the body process carbs. Cats have the ability to convert proteins to energy, therefore needing fewer carbs. This results in the unused carbs being stored as fat.
Feeding Schedule- Ad libitum or free-choice feeding is when food is left out for consumption all hours of the day. Free feeding is like being on a kitty cruise ship – 24 hour buffet. Unfortunately, this provides opportunity for cats to feed for reasons other than hunger, including boredom.
Things You Can Do
1. Make an Appointment with Your Veterinarian – Cats are made of up of different breeds, body types, sizes, etc; therefore, before beginning a weight management program, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Determining the extent of your cat’s weight problem, and whether it could be caused by an underlying medical condition is crucial to your strategy. This is especially important if your cat has put on a few pounds in a short period of time.
2. Keep kitty busy- Cats typically sleep 13-16 hours per day, so making the best of the time when kitty is awake is crucial. Cats need some type of physical activity each day, so set aside a few minutes to focus on playing with your cat. Not only will your cat benefit from the exercise, you both will benefit from the time spent together. With so many cat toys on the market, you should have no problem finding one that your cat will love. Here are some of our favorites.
Laser pointers – I have yet to find a cat that doesn’t love playing with a laser pointer.
Feathery wand – While each cat will have his or her own toy of choice, the feather topped wand is a favorite of all our cats.
Milk rings- If you purchase milk in a plastic jug, you will have an unlimited supply of these little rings. Our cats bat and chase these things all over the house.
3. Read labels- The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) suggests that you look for the following information when reading cat food labels to ensure that the food you are purchasing falls within the recommended guidelines.