It’s true that cats have a reputation for being able to get what they want. It can be hard to resist feeding them or giving them treats when they turn on the ‘cute’ act. However, obesity in cats can lead to arthritis, diabetes, urinary tract disease and other health problems. The best way to prevent or reverse this is, just like humans, with diet and exercise.
Why do cats become overweight?
Like humans, gaining weight is largely based on two main factors – how much your cat eats and how active they are. We often confine cats to our homes, which is quite a reasonable thing to do both for their safety and that of wildlife species. It therefore means cats might not exercise as much as they should. Lack of exercise or inactivity also leads to boredom, which can result in overeating or begging for more food.
Other factors contributing to weight gain include:
- being the only cat in the household with no one to play with
- being male
- being desexed, and
- being overfed
How will my cat behave on a diet?
Cats are known for their aloof nature, so you’d be forgiven for thinking your cat may become upset if their calories are restricted. However, cats may actually exhibit more affectionate behaviour when fed a calorie-restricted diet. When they’re healthier, they will feel it, and often become happier and more loving. It could take some time for your cat to get used to their new diet, but the health benefits of weight loss for overweight and obese cats is worth it.
Dr Roslyn Lui from Greencross Vets Werribee also indicates that cats will continue to come home as long as they’re fed.
‘Cats basically treat owners as a food source,’ she says. ‘So as long as your cat is getting food and love consistently from you, from a survival point of view, they will continue to come home. Being a pet means security, safety, warmth, shelter, water, food, and lots of love. I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about.’
At the end of the day, you need to break the cycle. Train yourself not to be influenced by your cat’s behaviour and always keep their health and best interest in mind. Your local Greencross Vets can advise on the best ways to help your cat maintain a healthy weight.