Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2014
The current obesity epidemic doesn’t just affect humans; our pets are becoming part of the problem. This raises serious health and welfare issues. It is estimated that up to a third of cats in the UK are obese, where body weight is more than 20% above ideal, with many more falling into the overweight category.
As with humans obesity occurs as a result of both overeating and eating inappropriate foods. It is a common myth that a cat will only eat as much as it needs; many are greedy and will eat whenever the opportunity arises, especially when presented with a highly palatable diet. Unfortunately our own behaviour and attitude to our pets will also contribute to the risk of obesity, whilst there is a limit to how much you can control the diet of a cat with access to the outdoors as they will often catch their own food being careful with what you offer and how much is important. As owners we like to treat our pets as it makes us feel good but giving lots of treats can result in overfeeding if the main diet is not reduced and many cats learn to pester for extras and can be hard to ignore.
If you have more than one cat and one of them needs to slim down you might like to try a method called ‘Kitty Café’. The idea is to prevent the heavier cat from overeating by preventing access to the other cat’s food. A large cardboard box is all that is needed, along with a thin cat that is not claustrophobic! Cut a hole in the box that the thinner cat can get through but the fatter cat can’t, feed the thinner cat in the box and make sure the fatter cat is only getting a measured amount of food according to ideal weight. Once the fat cat can get in the box you know that you have succeeded but you will probably still need to monitor eating habits to avoid the weight piling back on.
You can assess your cat’s body condition here to see if they need to slim down:
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