Obesity in Cats

Obesity in Cats

Obesity is associated with many disease conditions in cats.  These include orthopedic diseases, diabetes, certain cancers, idiopathic cystitis, and decreased immune response.

Obesity is extremely common in cats. Recent studies show that more than 35% of cats the United States are obese. This is probably because most cats are fed dry diets which are high carbohydrate and lower protein. Diets with only moderate protein cause cats to have less muscle mass and a slower metabolism. The higher the concentration of carbohydrate in the diet the lower the intake of protein will be. This results in lower intake of protein needed for maintenance and energy.  Most weight loss diets marketed for cat are actually high fiber, high carbohydrate, and low fat.  Cats fed these diets may lose weight, but they are losing muscle mass rather than fat.  The most effective weight loss method for cats is feeding high protein, low carbohydrate canned diets, while taking in consideration caloric need. Cats fed these diets will have a more normal appetite as a result.

The average indoor cat (10 – 11 lbs) needs 180 – 200 kcal/day to meet their energy needs.  A cat that is very obese will need to decrease this intake by 20 – 30%.  Most cats that need to lose weight and should weigh 11 pounds will need to take in only 120 – 130 kcal/day.

















Portion control is ultimately the answer for weight loss.  It is important to know the calorie content of any food you use, and feed according to your cats energy needs.  There are only a few dry foods that are high in protein, low in fat, and low in carbs but these are very high in calories.  A typical calorie content of these foods may be 350 -450 calories/cup.  The average cat should be fed 1/3 – 1/2 cup a day of these diets.  This means that you cannot feed your cat free choice dry. You must meal feed them. You can check the calorie content of canned diets in order to determine how much to feed. Calorie content varies, as does can size.  Many 5.5 oz. cans of cat food contain approximately 100 calories.

After you have determined your cat’s caloric needs and are feeding a high protein, low fat, low carb diet you should weigh your cat once monthly.  Portion size can then be adjusted on weight loss.

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