Fat cats at risk of illness or early death

Fat cats can be at risk of a range of illnesses and even early death. It might seem good to have a larger cat snuggle up on the bed and people can be tempted to feed a cat whenever it asks for food. 
What some owners do not realise is that, like people, overweight cats can be prone to any number of weight-related conditions.
Overweight or obese cats often have a poor quality of life. Weight can restrict movement, hinder play and prevent the ability to groom - all behaviours that a cat should be able to enjoy naturally. 
They can suffer with joint problems and have an increased risk of developing diseases such as diabetes mellitus, heart conditions and urinary infections. In severe cases, owners can actually kill their cat with kindness by overfeeding. 
Constant monitoring of your cat's weight is a good habit to get into to combat the potential onset of any of these problems. 
It is hard to notice weight gain (or indeed weight loss) in a cat that you see everyday so it is a good idea to weigh your cat regularly. One simple way to do this is to weigh a carry box or yourself, then weigh your cat whilst in the box or in your arms. Subtract the difference and that will be your cats weight.
When Muffin came into care at the National Cat Adoption Centre, she weighed a whopping 9.9kg.
Muffin is so overweight that she can no longer groom herself properly and our staff have to aid her in this with the occasional bath to keep her personal hygiene up to scratch. Obviously, this is not good for any cat. Muffin is now on a veterinary controlled diet to get her weight down to a healthy level and, with luck, she should have a happier future.
It is important to manage your cats weight by ensuring it is not overfed and has plenty of opportunity for exercise. 
If you are worried that your cat is a little overweight, remember that you should be able to feel your cats ribs easily when you stroke its body lightly and should be able to see a waistline when viewed from above.
If none of these apply to your cat then it may be your cat is overweight, so maybe assess the amount of food your cat consumes and how much exercise opportunities it is given.
Cats often appreciate attention or playtime with their owner more than food treats and this can sometimes be misread as a cat asking for food because its hungry when it is really asking for your time.  Also, if you are giving your cat a treat remember to limit how many to avoid your cat gaining weight. 
Exercise is an important part of weight control, so factor in some time in your day for play. Your cat will love it and it will increase the bond between you and your cat. This is all the more important in indoor cats, where their options for exercise can be limited as they are not outside running and climbing trees.


For further information, see the Feeding and Obesity leaflets for further advice.