If you’ve been telling yourself your cat’s just got thick fur, it’s probably time to take a closer look. Research suggests many owners don’t notice when their pets get too fat, and others are in denial.
Research in several Western countries has pointed to around half of cats being overweight or obese. Not only that, but owners have an unrealistic impression of their pet’s physical condition, with many not noticing the animal is overweight.
In Germany, three-quarters of cat owners (74%) consider their cat to be of normal weight, while less than one in five (17%) say their cat weighs too much, according to Forsa research for the Uelzener insurance company.
But these impressions clash with other research and evidence from veterinary practices, says Britta Dobenecker, an animal dietician from Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University.
This, she says, suggests that up 65% of Germany’s cats are actually overweight.
Figures from VCA animal hospitals in North America aren’t far off, while in Australia, one in three cats is overweight, according to the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia.
The main reason for the misjudgement is a lack of knowledge or awareness of health care.
Some owners are also in denial because they feel ashamed that they have allowed their pets to get too fat.
The excess weight is often caused by overfeeding and a lack of activity, with many cats being kept indoors and fed an energy-rich diet.
Neutering can also slow down the animal’s metabolism, leading to weight-gain. In addition many cat owners don’t take account of the harmful impact of treats given between meals.
“Your cat is at its ideal weight if the ribs can be felt when you place your hands loosely on its body and if it has a clearly visible waist when viewed from above, ” says Dobenecker.
“If your cat doesn’t pass these tests it’s time to take action, after consultation with a vet.” – dpa
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