Helping Your Cat Overcome the Feline Obesity Epidemic

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Though you may think nothing of your cat’s extra pound(s), more than half of the cats in the United States are overweight — an issue that has only gotten worse over the years. Obesity in cats can cause a variety of health-related problems and may even shorten the lifespan of your beloved cat. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to become informed on the issue and find a healthy way to get your cat’s weight back on track.

Cat Obesity by the Numbers

The number of cats tipping the scale at above-average weights has increased year over year, with 55 percent of cats classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarian, according to a 2011 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). Of the 88.4 million pets deemed too heavy by their vets, study results found that owners of these pets may have trouble recognizing the issue, with 15 percent of cat owners characterizing them as having a normal weight when she was actually obese, according to APOP.

How do Cats Become Overweight?

Cats become overweight for a variety of reasons including too much caloric intake, too little exercise, too frequent feedings and consuming table scraps or foods made for people, said Katie Grzyb, a DVM at the Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group in Brooklyn, NY. Treats have also become a major part of the issue. In an online poll conducted by APOP, 93 percent of cat owners gave their cats treats, with 26 percent reporting that they gave their cat multiple treats per day. Any one, or combination of, these things over time can lead to a dangerous problem.

What Do You Do Next if Your Cat is Overweight? 3 Steps to Help Your Overweight Cat

For the complete slideshow on overweight pets, visit petMD.