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Kitty Obesity

October 1, 2023

It’s Pet Obesity Awareness Month! Is your furball turning into a butterball? Many of our feline patients have things pretty easy. Fluffy gets to spend the majority of her time sleeping and sunbathing, with breaks for grooming, meals, and meditation. While kittens are very active, older cats get, well, rather lazy. That makes it easy for them to pack on extra pounds. In this article, a local Brampton, ON vet discusses obesity in cats.


There’s no denying that chubby cats are adorable. However, those extra pounds can really take a toll on Fluffy’s health. Obese cats face elevated risks of several dangerous health conditions, including heart disease, respiratory issues, bone and joint problems, liver and kidney issues, reproductive problems, and even certain cancers. That additional weight can increase Fluffy’s risk of complications from anesthesia, and can even shorten her lifespan.


Some breeds are more prone to packing on weight than others are. The Maine Coon and their close cousin the Norwegian Forest Cat are sitting pretty at the top of that list. Other fat cats include the Turkish Van, Domestic Shorthair, and Savannah. Of course, some kitties tend to have large frames. Cats can also be quite fluffy, so it isn’t always to tell if they’re overweight at a glance. Your vet should be ultimate authority on that, though you can do a quick home test by trying to feel Fluffy’s ribs. If you can’t feel them at all, there’s a good chance your furball is overweight. 


As with people, cats’ weight is largely determined by their diets. Portion control is very important here. Even overfeeding your little buddy by a few calories can cause her to become obese. Fluffy’s meowpulation tactics also come into play here. Many kitties have their humans trained to feed them on demand. If your furry pal already had her meal, that meow may be a lie!

Other Factors

Diet isn’t the only factor. Fluffy’s fitness regimen—or lack thereof—also affects her weight. Take time to play with your feline friend, and offer her things to climb and explore, such as a cat tower. Even tossing a toy down the hall will get most cats moving, as kitties will often instinctively chase small objects. Some medical problems, such as diabetes, can also contribute to weight gain. If you aren’t sure why your furry buddy is getting round, consult your vet.

Our Advice on Kitty Obesity in 2024

What is the significance of Pet Obesity Awareness Month for cat owners?

Pet Obesity Awareness Month is a crucial reminder for cat owners about maintaining a healthy weight in their feline companions. It’s a time to highlight the growing issue of obesity in pets, which significantly impacts their health and well-being. For cats, being overweight can lead to serious health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and joint issues. This month encourages owners to assess their cat’s weight, learn about proper nutrition and portion control, and understand the value of regular exercise. It’s an opportunity to educate and motivate cat owners to take proactive steps in preventing obesity, ensuring a longer, healthier life for their pets.

What are the health risks associated with obesity in cats?

Obesity in cats leads to several serious health risks that can significantly impact their quality of life. Overweight cats are at a higher risk for diabetes, a condition that can be costly to manage and detrimental to their health. They also face increased chances of developing heart disease, which can lead to reduced lifespan and compromised heart function. Joint and bone problems, including arthritis, are common, as excess weight puts additional strain on their skeletal system. Obesity can also contribute to respiratory difficulties and an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Furthermore, obese cats often struggle with grooming, leading to skin issues and hygiene problems. These risks underline the importance of maintaining a healthy weight in cats for their overall well-being.

Why is portion control crucial in preventing obesity in cats?

Portion control is crucial in preventing cat obesity because it directly manages their caloric intake, a critical factor in maintaining a healthy weight. Cats, especially indoor ones, have lower energy requirements, and overfeeding—even a small amount—can gradually lead to significant weight gain. Excess calories, not offset by activity, get stored as fat. Precise portion control, tailored to a cat’s age, size, activity level, and health needs, ensures they receive enough nutrition without the excess that leads to obesity. Regularly monitoring and adjusting food portions is essential for their long-term health and well-being.

What role does physical activity play in maintaining a cat’s healthy weight?

Physical activity plays a vital role in maintaining a cat’s healthy weight. Regular exercise helps burn calories, preventing the accumulation of excess body fat. It also stimulates metabolism and muscle tone, improving overall physical condition. For indoor cats, mainly, physical activity compensates for their naturally lower activity levels compared to outdoor cats. Engaging in play, using toys, or climbing structures like cat trees encourages movement, mirroring their instinctual behaviors like hunting and exploring. Consistent physical activity not only aids in weight control but also promotes mental well-being, reducing behaviors linked to boredom or stress.

What medical conditions might contribute to a cat’s weight gain?

Certain medical conditions can contribute to weight gain in cats, often independent of their diet or activity level. Hypothyroidism, although rare in cats, can lead to slowed metabolism, resulting in weight gain. Diabetes mellitus, mainly if poorly managed, can also cause weight changes. Hormonal imbalances, like those seen in cats with Cushing’s disease, can increase appetite and weight gain. Some medications, especially corticosteroids, can increase appetite and lead to weight gain. It’s essential to have regular veterinary check-ups to identify and manage these conditions effectively, helping to maintain a healthy weight in cats.

Do you have questions about your cat’s diet? Contact us, your Brampton, ON pet hospital, anytime!