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Obesity, defined as excess body weight of over 20%, is the most common nutritional disease in the cat.

An average ‘moggie’ should weigh about 4kg, but many are over this.

Overweight cats often experience a reduced quality of life, as they are less able to enjoy playing and frequently feel lethargic and sleep more. We can readily spot the obese cat belonging to someone else but very few of us can accept that our own cat is even slightly overweight.

What are the effects of obesity?

With respect to the detrimental effects on feline health, obesity in the cat is a known risk factor for both diabetes mellitus, lower urinary tract disease and hepatic lipidosis – a severe form of liver failure. It also has an effect on impaired mobility and arthritis and is likely to shorten the lifespan of your pet.

What causes obesity?

Incorrect diet, lack of outdoor exercise and a reduced metabolic rate after neutering are all contributing factors towards obesity. This is why a “neutered diet” is recommended, and care with the amounts fed, especially dry foods. Ideally find a scoop or container that holds the correct amount, rather than feeding ad lib or using your hands. An average cat only needs about 60g (2oz) of dry food daily and this is not much; try weighing it out to see for yourself.

How can I help my cat lose weight?

Once a cat becomes obese, it is a big challenge to lose weight safely and then maintain the ideal weight. Realistic goals need to be set – attending one of our weight clinics will allow you to have your cat measured and weighed and enable you to discuss your cat’s diet and exercise regime with one of our trained nurses. These are free of charge for our registered clients. Regular checks with the nurse will help you keep up momentum and examine new regimes if one does not work. Remember, every gram lost is one less to lose! Rapid weight loss is avoided as it will put the cat at risk of severe liver disease, so a slow steady weight loss programme is encouraged. There are no magic pills that can be used yet; however, we can help you choose the correct low calorie food that will provide the basis for effective weight loss.

When combined with extra exercise the weight loss should be steady and effective. Exercise provides a good interaction between owner and cat, there is a whole host of toys such as catnip or feather ticklers, which are great to encourage a lazy cat to play! A recent study showed that 10 minutes play each day was as effective as a weight loss diet.

So try a mixture of both diet and exercise.

To book your cat in for a weight check with a nurse or a health check with the vet, please call 0121 705 3044 or your nearest Surgery.