“Fat Cat”: It’s a phrase we learned as early as kindergarten when attempting to rhyme words. In fact, it seems like children’s books are particularly partial to chubby kitties.
But that could be a problem.
According to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, 50 percent of cats are overweight, or even obese. But is that a problem?
I’m afraid so. Packing on too many pounds can lead to all kinds of health issues, including osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, diabetes, and poor cardiovascular health.
So, what’s making our cats so fat? Here are the top five culprits!
It’s very common for cat-owners to simply pour a bowl of kibble in the mornings and allow their cats to feed throughout the day at their leisure.
While this is very convenient for us humans, it’s extremely unnatural for a hunter! Biologically, cats are designed to work for their food by stalking and catching it. As you can imagine, that burns calories.
When we let our cats just eat whenever they want to, we take away that instinctual need to hunt that helps keep them slim and fit. Cats need to eat set meals each day, rather than graze an all-hours buffet.
2.Too Many Carbs
Just like cats are biologically predisposed to hunt, their tummies are designed to eat meat. They’re carnivores.
Even protein-packed dry cat food typically uses plant proteins, instead of meat, to keep your cat full. Wet cat food, made from animal-based protein -- and even raw meat from the butcher -- is a better alternative.
Of course, consult with your vet before making major changes to your cat’s diet, and to get tips and recommendations on which wet food to buy and how to introduce raw meat to your cat.
Although it might seem gross to us, remember your cat was born to catch small critters, and hasn’t evolved enough to learn how to cook them. So long as you don’t use ground meat (where bacteria can thrive), your cat should be able to safely consume raw foods.
3.Not Enough Exercise
Keeping a cat indoors is best for their overall safety and longevity, but it doesn’t come without downsides. Like I mentioned above, cats naturally burn calories by hunting for their food, and they simply can’t do that when cooped up inside.
If you’re a cat-owner who goes to work all day, you might not be interested in entertaining Whiskers when you get home -- but you must.
Playing with your cat is a great way to encourage your cat to exercise, and by extension, keep your cat healthy.
4.Boring Indoor Habitat
Even if you make it a habit to play with your cat for 15 to 20 minutes a day, that’s probably not all the exercise your cat needs.
That’s why you should invest in cat trees, scratching posts, and plenty of toys that will help keep your cat moving while you’re away.
The more places your cat has to climb, jump and hide, the more likely she is to stay on-the-go. And a nice variety of toys will give her something fun to do while you’re away
Ouch. Have you noticed that those first four points all have one thing in common? Yep, you -- me -- the cat mom or dad.
It’s hard to admit that our way of “treating” our babies is actually causing them harm, but in the case of feline obesity, it is.
The best way to help your cat stay fit is to make sure you’re doing all you can as a pet-owner to encourage a healthy lifestyle. That means talking to your vet about ways to improve your kitty’s diet, making time each day to engage your cat in play, and investing in toys and cat furniture to keep him occupied while you’re gone.
Your cat is dependent on you! Why not be the best pet parent around so you can enjoy all 9 of her lives?
Natalie McKee rescued her cat, Pumpkin, from living as a stray when he was just a kitten. A decade later she writes at Leaping Cats about ways to keep your indoor cat fit, healthy and happy.