We can all agree that fat cats are big and fluffy and cute and improve classic works of art.
They will maybe even save your soul! But, as a veterinarian, I can tell you that they're not healthy.
Obesity in housecats is a ~growing~ trend, and it can have a real, serious impact on your cat's health and life expectancy. So, if you want your furry friend to be happy and live longer, keep these things in mind:
1. More than half the cats in the U.S. are overweight.
2. Obesity is directly linked to lots of health problems for cats.
3. But most people who have overweight cats don’t even know it.
4. You can figure out if your cat is the right weight just by looking.
5. Diet and exercise are the biggest factors causing obesity in cats.
6. Cats have to worry about carbs, too.
7. Leaving food out all day can make your cat fat.
8. If your cat acts like they’re starving, ignore them.
9. You can encourage (or force) your cat to exercise more.
10. Sharing your own food with a cat is a bad idea.
Resist the urge to let them finish your cereal or lick the dinner plates clean. Aside from the added calories, human foods can wreak havoc on your cat's gastrointestinal tract and cause irritation to the pancreas. Some, like onions and garlic, are plain toxic to cats.
And that old adage about offering a saucer of milk? Most adult cats are lactose intolerant and cow's milk is too rich for kittens, which means it's basically a one-way ticket to Diarrhea-ville. They also can't taste sweetness, so they're not going to enjoy your leftover dessert nearly as much as you would.
11. Water is important.
12. Cats don’t usually like switching foods, but wet food can help.
13. Most experts now recommend canned food instead of dry.
For years, experts touted dry cat food as pre-furr-able because it helps prevent tartar buildup on teeth. The debate rages on, but experts are now advising cat owners to reach for the canned stuff, especially for older cats, because of the benefit of higher water content. Dental exams should be part of your cat's yearly vet check-ups, and should catch and treat or manage any issues.
14. The best cat foods are the ones with more animal protein.
15. Slow and steady weight loss is important.
16. It’s a good idea to weigh your cat regularly.
Anna O'Brien graduated from Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine and is a veterinarian currently in Maryland with a borderline-fat cat.