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Feline obesity is highly prevalent, and its incidence is on the rise. Most domestic cats should weigh about 10 pounds, but this varies depending on the breed. Your cat is obese if its body weight is 20% or more than the ideal weight. Obesity in cats can lead to several health conditions which can significantly shorten your cat’s life expectancy, including diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, urinary obstruction, and heart disease. The underlying causes of obesity in cats include:

    • Age – Several studies have reported that cats under 2 years are less prone to obesity because they are more active. However, the prevalence of obesity increases in middle-aged cats (5-12 years), given their reduced metabolic rate.
    • Gender – Reports show that male cats gain weight quicker than female cats.
    • Breed – Growing evidence suggests genetics influence your cat’s body weight. For instance, mixed-breed cats are more likely to be obese than pure-bred cats such as Siamese or Abyssinians. A recent study reported that British Shorthair, Maine Coon, and Norwegian Forest cats have a higher disposition towards obesity than breeds such as Cornish Rex, Abyssinian, and Sphynx.
    • Neutering and spaying – Numerous studies have reported that neutering and spaying affect the physiology and behavior of cats, predisposing them to obesity. Neutering and spaying result in the deficiency of sex hormones known to regulate metabolism, energy expenditure, and fat deposition. Consequently, neutered and spayed cats need fewer calories or more exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
    • Dietary factors – Energy and nutrient requirements in cats vary with age, gender, reproductive status, and physical activity. Intact cats require 20 to 100 kilocalories of energy per day, while neutered cats require fewer than 100 kilocalories per day. You can meet your cat’s nutritional needs by feeding them meat since they cannot digest plants properly. Experts recommend that controlled feeding is better than always making food available. However, if your cat is pregnant, the feeding frequency might change, so be sure to consult your vet.
    • Physical inactivity – An inactive lifestyle predisposes cats to obesity. Cats that spend most of their time indoors and are not engaged in exercise or physical activity tend to gain weight gradually and may become obese over time.

Obesity in cats can have serious health effects, just like it does in humans. Physical, environmental, and hormonal factors can predispose cats to obesity. However, you can prevent your cat from becoming obese by maintaining a healthier lifestyle. A well-defined exercise routine, a balanced, well-proportioned diet, and regular vet visits can help control your cat’s weight.

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Last Updated: June 20, 2022

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