Wednesday 9 April 2008

Cat health weight loss

Cat leaping
Cat health and weight loss - this picture more or less sums it all up (a great photograph too). It is very unlikely a cat will be overweight if he or she has the space to safely do this in. To naturally run and jump in a safe environment must be the best way to maintain correct weight and get exercise. The cat is called Boris and he lives with Andrew in Sheffield, England. The photo is copyright Andrew (polandeze, Flickr name). Andrew takes fine photographs including fine cat photographs. Boris is running around a graveyard. I am guessing that this is adjacent to Andrew's home and Andrew is supervising.

Obviously Cat health and weight loss go together. Obesity in cats is a growing phenomenon in the Western world. This can only be due to two causes. A large number of cats are not taking enough exercise and are eating more calories than they burn off. That is the bottom line of it. But why is it a growing problem?

I sense that the root of the problem is generally twofold. In the USA (the country with by far the biggest domestic cat population) a large percentage of cats live exclusively indoors. That promotes inactivity particularly if the people living with the cat are away a lot, working. If a cat is kept indoors it is beholden upon the human to counterbalance that enforced restricted lifestyle with a high degree of input to encourage activity. I don't actually think that people should keep cats if they have to keep them indoors all the time unless this is a real necessity.

Yet the idea of keeping cats indoors in the USA seems to be the norm. How can it be the norm (the normal standard) when it must be unnatural for cats. I think a lot of humans force cats into their lifestyles. They want a cat on their terms. They don't like everything about a cat so they remove or eliminate these deficiencies (in human terms), like claws and force the cat to live a life that despite being unnatural for the cat fits into the human's lifestyle. Is this right? Is this good for the cat? Is this treating cats as objects, consumer items? Is this encouraging cat breeding when it should not be encouraged. Cat breeding is not bad per se but there needs to be a realistic review of the wider issues. Cats are kept indoors for safety sake very often. But a lot of the dangers for a cat are man made. So we bring cats into a world that it unsuitable for them unless they lead an artificial life indoor and get fat and ill as a result. Is this wise?

cat jumping up a wall
Cat jumping up a wall. This is Boris again jumping up a stone wall. He is athletic (all cats are) and had jumped from the grave stone at the lower left of the picture. Cat often land just short of the top and the momentum plus a bit of climbing carries them to the top. This is preferable to overshotting. Photo copyright polandeze (Andrew). I post this photo to illustrate the need and benefit of exercise which can take place more realistically outside (provided the environment is safe).

If you add to a forced inactivity the rapid increase in convenience dry cat food, which is artificially high in carbohydrates and is less than ideal as cat food due to commercial reasons you have a recipe (excuse the pun) for a fat cat. There is possibly a third hidden reason. Obesity in humans is on the increase too. Does one follow the other? If we as humans accept getting overweight and are unable to do little about it or simply accept it then there is little likelihood of us being able to reduce the weight of our pets. You know the saying that people have pets that look themselves. Pets are sometimes a reflection of the human keeper.

Although there are masses of articles written and published on the internet about techniques and tips to help cats lose weight the bottom line is as outlined above. Obviously there are some medical issues that can lead to a cat being overweight but these are relatively rare compared to the reasons above. You can see the all the posts on this site about cat food and health issues by clicking here.

My cat is overweight because she is defensive and anxious due to a difficult early life (I found her on the streets of London when she as a young abandoned cat). This makes here inactive and she likes prawns. I have fought with her about food for the last 14 years and she has won but her weight is stable albeit high. Cat health and weight loss can be hard to achieve sometimes. As she is a ripe age for a cat at about 15 and still healthy (touch wood) it can't be too bad for her being overweight. One immediately apparent effect of being overweight is the difficulty a cat encounters grooming her back; those parts of her body that requires flexibility of the spine. This means my cat's fur is matted more than it should be. Which in turn means more grooming from me. She also has flaky skin for the same reason.

Of course, fatness results in more fatness due to increased levels of forced immobility. This makes it harder to achieve cat health by weight loss. For me one help was to take her off (not totally) a dry food diet. The totally dry food diet was recommended by the vet incidentally - he recommended Hills RD or LD but this didn't help her weight and encouraged Urinary tract disease. I am going to be cynical again but I think my then vet recommended Hills RD as it as prescription only and I would have had to buy it from him.

Urinary tract cat food is manufactured to alleviate this urinary tract disease. Really, food plays a big part and although wet cat food is often not that good it is better than dry cat food as it more accurately replicates a wild cat's diet in terms of protein intake, while dry food contains too much carbohydrate. The high levels of carbohydrate in dry cat food is mainly due to the requirements of the manufacturing process.

Obesity can cause diabetes too, a rising disorder for the domestic cat and linked to the above problems. The only way (subject to a vet's checkup) is less food and more exercise and this should be introduced slowly to fix a change in the cat's lifestyle. Although if you have an inherently inactive cat it takes a lot if input to exercise a cat. In fact one of the issues is that cats in the wild are very efficient hunters, the ultimate hunting/killing machine. This allows wild cats to spend a lot of the time resting between kills. They have though expended a lot of energy in hunitng and killing. They are programmed like this. If there is no hunting and plenty of resting weight gain I would have thought is a natural consequence.

Cat health and weight loss is probably the most important issue facing cat lovers and keepers today.

Cat health and weight loss to Low Magnesium Cat Food.


  1. I dont have a garden or anything so my cat cant go outside. Shes fat also...but i try to keep it low by playing with her etc. Shes also allowed to climb around here anywhere. On the tables/closets/anything she likes. Once i went outside with her to some place not so far, but she didnt like it at all and just wanted to be inside again.

  2. Hi, thanks for the comment. I know it can be hard for defensive indoor type cats to keep their weight down. I don't think we should get overly distraught. If they are happy, loved and healthy it's the best we can do.


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