Wednesday 4 April 2012

Why We Overfeed Our Cats

Not all of us overfeed our cat but a lot of people do. The PDSA, the UK's leading veterinary charity, tells us that in April of 2012, 3 million UK cats are obese! That is shocking information. The PDSA say that this represents about 25% of the cat population in the UK, which makes the population at 12 million cats. If this figure is true it means that there has been an increase in the cat population in the UK since 2006 of almost 2 million (see Ownership of Cats in the UK). This, in my opinion, might be incorrect. I really think the PDSA have the figures wrong here as there are not 12 million cats in the UK to the best of my knowledge. The figure is probably nearer 10 million. The truth is we don't know.

But, it seems that there are too many overweight cats. We know that obesity can cause health problems and shorten life.

There are two reasons why cats become overweight. The input of energy in the form of food is too high and the output of energy in the form of exercise is too low. The former is probably by far the biggest reason why cats are overweight.

As we dictate what our cat eats, we are to blame. So why are we overfeeding our cats? These are my reasons:
  1. We feed on demand. Cats generally ask for food. When they ask we supply it. We like to give our cats food that pleases them. If we give them food they like when they like they might get fat but that presupposes that cats are unable to regulate their own weight. You might have thought that cats would be able to maintain a decent weight. 
  2. It is probably the case, therefore, that the cat food we feed with them with is designed to be moorish. Dry food might do this as it creates artificial glucose highs and then lows because of the high sugar content. Also a lot of people leave dry food down permanently. Dry food can it seems cause overgrazing. It is the nature of the food, which is very artificial.
  3. Cats don't get enough exercise. It is hard for us to ensure that our cat gets exercise. You know, you can't force a cat to exercise and therefore you have to play with your cat and that can get boring after about 5 minutes. Some cats like to go on a treadmill but I am sure that this is rare.
The key I think to maintaining a healthy cat weight is tough love. Don't get me wrong. I don't mean be hard on your cat. What I mean is to not automatically respond to your cat's demand for food every time. And if he decides that he does not like the food that you have put down don't put down some more of a different type. Let him wait a bit until he is more hungry and he will then eat the food that he rejected. In doing this he will eat less because the gap between meals will have been extended. You can then give the occasional treat to please him.

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