We all love our cats and so we do not mind them being well-rounded and well-fed every day. But when is my cat obese? And what can you do to make them help lose weight? Let’s find out in today’s article.
We Feel Sorry For Them
When cats are fed a high quality balanced diet, they get all they need. That is however not the case with most of the cat owners. First of all because not everybody affords to buy a high quality diet for their cats, but also because of the way we treat cats.
This is in no way an offensive message to all the cat owners out there. It is completely natural that we feed that sweet cat of us a little extra sometimes. Or to give them a treat here and there when he or she does a little trick during play.
Our cats in turn are also to blame for the over feeding. Aww, did I step on your tail when you walked right behind me in the kitchen? Poor kitty.. here is something nice. Or aww this cat looks so hungry, perhaps I should give him some extra food. Oh dear his bowl is empty, let’s fill it up.
At the dinner table we are also good at feeding the begging cat a piece of chicken or fish from our own plate to them. This is all very natural and I am not going to blame you straight away. Cats are extremely cute and very sweet soft and cuddly.
Unfortunately for themselves, cats are also very good at all the tricks to get more food in them, even though they do not need it to survive.
We Overfeed Them
Especially in households with more than one cat, overfeeding is pretty common. Even in our household this is easily the case with so many cats (just to tell you, we are not perfect either and try to find new solutions to these kinds of problems).
When you have just one cat, it is relatively easy to feed your cat what he needs. You follow the dosage on the packaging and give them the amount 2-3 times a day.
Unfortunately, most cat owners put enough in their cats bowl for the entire day, or worse entire week. As soon as the bowl looks empty, they refill the bowl up to the brim. This is one of the easiest ways to get an obese cat.
When a cat family has multiple cat family members, feeding becomes more difficult as you have no control over which cat is eating from what bowl and to what amount. We got five cats running around and eating on different times of the day. Some cats end up eating a lot, while others get very little.
We are however planning to solve this by introducing a technological answer to this problem. xx has a feeding system that only unlocks and opens up the feeding area when a cat with a certain chip ID is present. The feeding bowl closes again when the cat walks away.
This system requires of course that your cat is ID chipped, but as this is nowadays a requirement in most countries, this won’t be a problem. Alternatively you can use a little ID chip on a necklace on your cat.
We Don’t Know What To Feed Them
High quality food for cats is high in meat content and low in carbs and other additives. High quality food should give your cat a lot of energy and the balanced diet should give your cat all it needs to thrive and be a very happy healthy cat. Feeding your cat high quality food in the amounts that are prescribed should not cause obesity to your cat.
Unfortunately there are also a lot of lower quality cat foods available on the market. Although most cat owners probably steer away from the low quality foods available through normal food stores, a lot of pet product stores and even veterinary clinics offer bad quality cat food.
It isn’t all that easy for a cat owner to know what is a good or a bad cat food product. It is hard to choose a product, as misleading slogans and product info is being printed.
We Give Them Lots Of Treats
In food stores, pet product stores and on the internet many cat treats are available. There are treats with meat in them, there are treats with catnip. Some are more natural than others. All of them contain additives that can’t be too good for them or could potentially make them obese.
“Treats for cats are like sweets & sugar to humans”
Just like us humans, it won’t harm them too much if they are being fed 1-3 treats a day. Unfortunately do many of us cat owners over-feed cats with treats. You should still see those treats for cats as sugar substances for us humans. Treats are meant as treats and should never replace or partly replace their normal feeding schedule.
On top of that fact, there is also a quality difference between cat treats and cat treats. Cat treats should definitely not include harmful additives such as preservatives and all sorts of E-numbers, colouring and flavours/aroma’s. Cats are from nature, so try to give them pure nature back when they should get a treat.
In the past there have been some reports of problems with certain types of cat treats, so you need to stay ahead of that and keep yourself up-to-date of the latest developments. If you want to buy treats, make sure you that you buy high quality ones.
Alternatively you could prepare your very own home-made cat treats or produce your own cat food at home.
We Give Them Human Food
Cat owners do have the same challenges as dog owners, when they are sitting at the dinner table. Cats do enjoy the smells of some fresh fish you want to put on your bread. They love it when we make a home-made chicken soup or bake a whole chicken in the oven.
They also enjoy when we have fish for dinner or a fish soup. Even when I prepare some tuna sandwiches, I got at least one cat circling around my feet as a shark that smells blood. When you open a package of milk, yogurt or cheese from the fridge, they are also very fast to be found all around you.
Fair enough that they are there, but the problem remains that we are also very easily tempted to give them something from our plate, right?
It also happens that cat owners think:
“Well, if I give him something now, he will be gone for a while so that I can finish my dinner”.
The big problem with that, is that you have just conditioned him for something (read: trained). Now they will come back each time and expect something from you. On top of that they are also getting more food in them than they would need to thrive and to be healthy.
There is also an added danger with it, namely that you could be feeding something that is potentially harmful to your cats.
Fair enough if they get some chicken in their tummies, but if you prepared your chicken or chicken soup with onions and garlic, the whole dish has become a potential deadly hazard to your cat. Garlic and onion should be avoided at all cost, for a teaspoon of it can be deadly to them.
That’s why I don’t take risks when it comes to feeding some of our garlic, chicken, pepper and salt marinated chicken in the oven. Instead I choose to bake an entire chicken for my cats without any form of harmful additives.
So next time you feel like feeding your cat some ham from a package, please check the ingredients list for any harmful ingredients.
There is however a possibility for an external cause that can make your cat obese. I want to name two:
- Outgoing cat
There are illnesses that can cause your cat to get bloated. If you suspect that illness is the cause of it, it is best to take your cat to the veterinary. They can tell you whether your cat is ill or whether it has to do with the feeding.
When you got a cat that goes outdoors, there are other reasons that your cat can gain a lot of weight. They might be catching prey and eat them, which could potentially be too much for them when they are also eating their bowl empty in your home.
Next to the potential to hunt for food, they could be simply taking food from a neighbour that feels sorry for that cute cat visiting their garden and feeding some extra (good or bad quality) cat food or cat treats.
Cause & Solution
As we have seen, there are many causes of obesity in cats and it lays deeper nestled within the way we take care of the cats as well as how the cats treat or play us.
I would like to say the following:
- Cats are very good at nagging us for more food
- We are very good at giving in
- We easily overfeed and over-treat
We do feel easily sorry for our fellow four legged friends and give them plenty of food and treats all the time.
To get better in these things we need to give, we have to stop feeding them human foods. We have to treat cat treats as sweets and give them in moderation. In case of multi-cat environments we have to consider installing technology that enables to control cat eating behaviour properly.
Other than that we really have to be better and very conscious about how we feed them, what we feed them and when we feed our dear cats.
What do you treat your cat(s) extra with? Share experience in the comments section below.