Risks of overweight and obesity for the health of cats

Overweight or obese cats are more predisposed to suffer certain pathologies, from cardiovascular problems to psychological problems.

Obesity in cats is a growing problem, as it is in the human population. It can affect your health, your quality of life and your bodily functions, and have serious and lifelong consequences.

Are some cats more predisposed to obesity?

Certain factors can make your cat more predisposed to being overweight or obese:

  • If it is a European type cat with short hair, instead of a breed.
  • If you are between five and ten years old.
  • If you receive food more frequently and in greater quantity than recommended.
  • If you are nervous, depressed or have suffered mental or emotional stress.
  • If it is male.

If your cat is sterilized, it will also be more predisposed to weight gain, since sterilization decreases the animal’s energy needs by just under a third, but its appetite can increase between 18% and 26%.

Why does overweight or obesity affect my cat?

When a cat is overweight or obese, instead of using the nutrients that are absorbed, his body stores them in the form of fat, because the energy he spends is less than the energy he eats. That fat affects bodily functions, as it infiltrates certain organs, such as the liver, or covers others, such as arteries. Excess fat puts pressure on internal organs and joints, which leads to a number of health risks.

What are the risks if my cat is overweight or obese?

In general, obesity can reduce the quality and life expectancy of cats, as they find it more difficult to play and move, and surgical procedures or reviews become more complicated.

Diabetes

Obese cats have a much higher risk of having diabetes: between 80% and 90% of obese cats suffer from this disease, which requires daily injections of insulin. Often, diabetes can be reversed, if normal weight is regained, since accumulated fat, which is directly responsible for the lack of glucose regulation.

Compromised immune system

The immune system of cats can be compromised when they are obese, which makes them more prone to infections. This includes urinary infections and “stones”, which occur because overweight cats are less active and usually drink less water and urinate less frequently than healthy cats.

Liver failure

A serious and potentially lethal risk of obese cats is liver failure. When the cat’s organism believes that it is malnourished, for example, if the constant supply of food stops, the fat is transferred from the reserves to the liver, to be used as energy. However, when the cat’s organism cannot perform this process effectively and the liver begins to malfunction, this can lead to lethal liver failure.

Toilet and mental health

Overweight cats find it difficult to clean themselves, which can cause skin problems. Similarly, additional weight puts pressure on the cat’s joints and can cause arthritis. The cardiovascular and respiratory systems are also affected, resulting in shortness of breath and heart problems.

An overweight or obese cat may also have mental health problems; instead of fleeing or hiding when they perceive danger, overweight cats cannot react quickly and, therefore, not being able to follow their instincts, which can cause them stress.

Through proper control of food, exercise and behaviors, you can protect your cat from the risks of being overweight or obese. To begin, consult with your veterinarian, to advise you on the best way to proceed.

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