Feline Obesity

Written by M. Nikole Hunn

Does your cat polish your floor with his stomach as he walks? Is his food bowl bigger than your head? Do you grunt when you try to pick him up? Does he bounce when he lands onrepparttar floor? Do you spend more on his food bill than your own?

People see fat cats as subjects of humor. They make cartoons with cute captions, manipulate photos into amusing cards, and crack jokes about their rotund companions. As harmless as it seems, obesity in our feline companions is not a joke. The health risks are very real. For nearly 40% of American cats, their lives will be shortened by years due to this preventable problem.

All cat owners should know if their cat is obese, what problems are associated with obesity, what causes obesity, and how to fixrepparttar 141740 problem.

So how do I know if my cat is obese?

Obesity is commonly defined as being more than 20% aboverepparttar 141741 ideal weight. How that ideal weight is determined, however, isn't always cut and dried. Unlike humans, who have Body Mass Index and other various charts to guide them, there isn't an established chart of acceptable weights for cats due torepparttar 141742 large variations betweenrepparttar 141743 different breeds. A Maine Coon will be much heavier than a Siamese. For this reason, obesity in cats is determined using body condition scoring. Body condition scoring usually ranges from 1 to 9, with 5 being ideal and 9 being grossly overweight.

So how can you tell if your cat's too fat? Feel his sides. Can you feel his ribs? A little fat covering is ideal. You should be able to feel his ribs if you put slight pressure on his sides, but you shouldn't be able to count them just by running your hand over his body. Look at him while you're standing above him. Can you see his waist? Yes, cats should have a waist. Look at him fromrepparttar 141744 side. Do you see his tummy tucking in a bit? It shouldn't be wobbling around inrepparttar 141745 breeze (in neutered animals, a slight pouch of loose skin is normal).

For long-haired cats, it may be helpful to wet down their fur inrepparttar 141746 bathtub to judge their body condition. All that fur can giverepparttar 141747 illusion thatrepparttar 141748 cat is much heavier than it really is, or provide a great excuse torepparttar 141749 owner for why her cat looks fat. (Seerepparttar 141750 links following this article for an illustrated chart to help you.)

So He's Fat. Is It That Dangerous?

The short answer: YES.

The long answer: a list of known risks. Obese cats have a much higher risk of developing:

*diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) *hepatic lipidosis / FLS (a form of liver disease) *arthritis or other skeletal problems *lower urinary tract disease ('cystitis') *breathing difficulties *heart failure *renal disease *problems with anesthetic *surgical complications

But He Doesn't Eat THAT much...

Excess weight is all about eating more calories thanrepparttar 141751 body needs. If your cat is neutered, he uses less calories. If he's a barn cat, he uses a lot more calories. The more active he is,repparttar 141752 more calories he needs. Most of us have indoor cats that lay around much ofrepparttar 141753 time. They're not using energy to stay warm; they're not hunting for their food. They don't need to have a big bowl of food laying around to munch on 24 hours a day.

When humans diet, it is often recommended to keep a food diary because we lose track of how much we're really eating. You can lose track of how much your cat is really eating if you free-feed dry and toss treats at him several times a day. Be more conscious of what you're feeding him and remember that an animal that weighs 12 pounds doesn't need to eat all that much. Nor will he think you don't love him anymore if you stop tossing him treats every time you think he's being cute. If you want to show him your love, play with him. Give him some catnip. Spend time interacting with him. Don't equate food with love.

The Story of O(scar)

Written by M. Nikole Hunn

The Story of O (scar)

I don't really know his name. I felt an intense need to give him one, though, so I named him Oscar. In my head, anyway. I never got to call him that, at least while he was alive. My mind often wanders to thoughts of him in those small moments ofrepparttar day that creep up on me - those tiny moments when my mind isn't really focusing on anything at all. No thoughts of car payments or code fragments or who I was supposed to call but forgot. I see him briefly. That fluffy, lifeless, ginger-colored mass lying byrepparttar 141691 side ofrepparttar 141692 road.

It was just a normal day. I was out walking my dog along one ofrepparttar 141693 many semi-busy suburban streets that litter my neighborhood. Traffic was whizzing by atrepparttar 141694 usual 40 miles an hour,repparttar 141695 drivers looking to get home in time for dinner or to make it torepparttar 141696 store or whatever it is they look to do in such a hurry. None of them paid me any attention. It was just your garden-variety summer afternoon, hazy sun, buzzing insects, and all.

As we walked downrepparttar 141697 street, my dog became a bit more animated. She craned her head and pulled at her leash a bit, interested in something about 15 feet uprepparttar 141698 road. Approachingrepparttar 141699 area, I noticed firstrepparttar 141700 flies. There weren't many, but flies aren't exactly noted for hanging aroundrepparttar 141701 side ofrepparttar 141702 road unless there is something there to interest them. Steeling myself againstrepparttar 141703 site of some unfortunate raccoon or possum, I kept walking. But it wasn't a raccoon. Or a possum. There, lying inrepparttar 141704 shaded grass torepparttar 141705 right ofrepparttar 141706 sidewalk, partially hidden byrepparttar 141707 branches of a bush poking through an adjoining fence, was a fluffy, almost fat, ginger striped cat.

I just stood there, looking at that cat, my dog sitting behind me, oddly subdued, as if she knew this was a solemn thing not to be taken lightly. He was a big boy. I don't even know for sure that he actually was a boy, but my mind won't let me think of him in any other way for some reason, so he's a boy to me. His fur was glossy and relatively clean; this had been someone's pet. Someone had either let their cat out or he'd escaped for a bit of short-lived freedom. I stood there, thinking of how he must have tried to crawl home, perhaps looking for his family to comfort him in his time of need. He was too far fromrepparttar 141708 road to have been flung there with so little damage andrepparttar 141709 position of his lifeless body spoke of an animal that had tried to walk, but had fallen over on his side and stayed that way. There were no marks on him aside from a little trickle of blood fromrepparttar 141710 corner of his mouth. Internal injuries killed this lovely boy, I'd say. He was onrepparttar 141711 opposite side ofrepparttar 141712 sidewalk from traffic and near a fence - was that his home? Did some child cry for him somewhere?

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