Are you killing your cat with kindness?

Obesity in cats is an increasingly worrying issue that could be killing cats.

Here at the National Cat Adoption Centre we see more and more cats that are considered to be overweight.

Take a look at Muffin, who weighed in excess of 9kg when she was with us. This is definitely not a good weight for any cat.

Muffin couldn't wash herself, her size affected her mobility, and she was at high risk of so many serious health conditions, such as heart problems, arthritis and diabetes.

Generally, a good healthy weight for a cat is around 4kg, but this will change from cat to cat, depending on body structure and age.

The ideal weight for your cat could be different and a vet can advise on this.

An easy way to tell at the first instance is that you should be able to feel your cats ribs easily when you stroke their body lightly and see a waistline if you were looking at the cat from above.

Prevention is better and easier than cure, so you should manage your cat's weight by ensuring that they are not overfed and have plenty of opportunities for exercise.

How much you should feed your cat depends on the type of food, ie: wet or dry, the cat's size, their age and their level of activity. But a cat will need to be fed twice a day and to be monitored for any weight gain.

Hunting:
A cat's need to hunt is not fed by hunger so, even when you are giving your cat regular meals they will still be driven to exhibit their hunting behaviour.

Each part of the hunting activity - the stalk, the pounce, play and kill - releases feel-good hormones called endorphins.

Playing with your cat will help your cat to exhibit  hunting behaviour and help to keep him mentally stimulated, which is all the more beneficial for an indoor cat who will not have the opportunity to go out and perform these skills naturally. And, of course, it will contribute to your cat's exercise, helping them to maintain a happy and healthy bodyweight.

Treats:
Cats often appreciate attention or playtime more than food treats, but their behaviour is often misunderstood as begging for treats.

When your cat is asking for your attention, food is often thought to be what they are looking for, but some distraction with extra playtime can strenghthen your bond and add exercise and stimulation into their daily routine.

If you feel your cat is overweight, it is important to take the advice of a vet. They can recommend any weight loss programme and ensure you do the best for your cat as losing weight too quickly can be dangerous.