Why is My Cat Getting Fat? (Is this normal?)
If you are noticing your cat gaining weight, you may be wondering why, and how you can stop this happening. Using simple tools like Automatic feeders to help portion control is one thing (Click here to see why I love these automatic Cat Feeders), but are their other ways and reasons why your cat is getting fat?
Why is my cat getting fat? The reason why your cat is getting fat could be linked to a few reasons. Most likely linked to not enough activity, overeating or having too many treats. Fortunately, most of these issues can be resolved.
Indoor cats, in particular, find it harder to get regular exercise. So, it’s important that you get around this ( but more on this in detail later on the article). Let me explain why older cats tend to gain weight easily, the risks that weight gain introduces, how to reduce weight and more.
Older Cats and weight gain
Older cats have different challenges. They tend to have a slower metabolism and reduced activity as they get older. This is natural and expected.
The thing that you need to be careful of is their diet. In particular, avoid feeding your older cat the same volume of food as you did when she was younger.
This is because they won’t be able to burn off as many calories as they once did. You need to re-evaluate their diet if you find out your older cat is putting on a lot of weight.
Is your cat really overweight or is this all in your mind?
It is not always easy to establish if your cat is really overweight. One of the challenges is, each individual breed of cat has a different expected weight.
For example, if you have a Maine Coon (click here to see why Maine Coon’s are so big), they are naturally larger. So, you can’t expect to look at the numbers on a scale and compare them to the weight of a Persian cat, are you with me?
Body Conditioning scoring
Instead of looking at the weight of your cat, there is body conditioning scoring. You can easily find this online. This system allows you to benchmark your cat weight and get an idea if they are overweight or even underweight.
Meantime there are simple things you can do while you’re at home that can help you to establish if your cat is overweight or not.
Bear in mind that this will need a certain amount of practice to get right. So, don’t expect to do this once and get a conclusive result. Here are a few techniques that you can use…
Checking your cat’s ribs
With this technique, the idea is to feel your cats ribbed to get an idea of how much fat (Is bacon grease too fatty for cats? Click here) is in between her rib bones and the rest of her body.
This is done by gently stroking her as normal, to make her feel comfortable, so you can move to her ribs area to gauge her weight.
The idea is to stroke your hands around her rib cage area and see if you can feel her rib bones. Do not to apply too much pressure. You should be lightly touching it. If you find that you can easily feel her ribs without too much pressure, this is a good sign. It indicates that she is not overweight.
However, if you find that you have to really press hard to find where her ribs are, then the chances are your cat is either overweight or something else.
Check if you can identify her waistline
With this technique, you will be gauging the shape of her body. In particular, in relation to her waistline. Look down at your cat from above and see if you can see the shape of her waistline.
Ideally, you should see an hourglass looking figure from above looking down. Her abdomen should not be wider than the width of her shoulders.
If you find that the abdomen is protruding quite a lot beyond the width of her shoulders this is an indication that she is overweight. Again, note that I said “indication” and not “she is overweight”, because this is not conclusive.
Check the condition of her back
Have a look at your cats back, in particular, is their back flat? Is there signs of matting or greasy fur around that area? Can you see obvious signs of a potbelly?
Also, look out for dandruff around the middle of their back. You tend to find that obese cats have difficulty grooming these areas, and this is an indication that she is overweight.
How can too much weight affect your cat?
As with humans, feeling overweight tends to affect us, not only physically but also psychologically. This is similar to the behavior of your cat.
If she is overweight, especially if she is obese she will start to neglect certain things. For example, she may stop grooming herself, neglecting general hygiene and may even neglect basic exercise.
Basically, your cat may become anxious and depressed.
Also, cats that are obese or largely overweight are also susceptible to other diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and other health-related issues.
So, this is why it is important to monitor your cat’s weight and prevent them from getting in this situation in the first place.
How can you help your cat to reduce weight?
Firstly, you can do this by reducing her portions. Some cat owners have a technique called “free feeding” (click here to see if you should be leaving food out at night or all day). The idea is to leave food out all day for the cat to graze on food at their leisure.
The problem with this is cats typically do not know when to stop eating and will just continually eat all day, which can lead to obesity.
Switching to a Scheduled Diet
To prevent this happening it is a good idea to switch to a schedule based diet. Which, will allow you to give a couple of portion-controlled meals a day. This will allow you to monitor your cats eating activities and reduce the amount of she is eating.
This tip is more applicable to people that have got more than one cat in their household. It is tempting and more practical for you to feed them your cats at the same time and put out one supply of food.
The problem with this technique is, a more dominant cat can start to consume the smaller cats food. Meaning one becomes underfed and the other becomes obese and overweight.
Using this technique of separating meals, will allow you to monitor each individual cat and spot if they have any feeding or health issues. Also, if they’re losing their appetite or just flat out not eating.
Start to incorporate activity on a daily basis
This one may seem completely obvious to you but you need to start to incorporate daily activity/exercise. This is specifically for indoor cats that struggle to get much exercise at all.
Simple things like providing them with a cat tree (click here to see why they are my best 3 Cat Trees). This will allow them to get exercise.
You can also use toys such as a laser toy (click here to see the price on Amazon) or a cat playpen (Click here for my best 3 cat playpens) which will keep them happy and active for hours.
Other things that you can consider using are very simple toys such as a piece of string dragged around the room, a ball of wool or even a little plastic ping pong ball.
As simple as this sounds, these little things will add to the activity of your cat and help them to burn off unwanted calories rather than sitting around all day sleeping in your cat window perch (Click here to see why I feel this is one is best) and not getting any activity. This little activity could be the difference between a healthy cat and one heading down the road of obesity.