Hopefully many of you are old enough to remember the show Fat Cat and Friends that was on TV during the 70’s and 80’s in Australia. Fat Cat’s fashion statement never deviated from green bowler hat, bowtie, striped socks and those signature red braces. Obviously the braces were required to accommodate Fat Cat’s expanded girth which, even before TV stardom struck, had clearly outgrown convention button-up cat pants.
I understand that Fat Cat still does the odd TV appearance these days, and it would seem that the name still fits. Fat Cat however is not the only cat in the neighbourhood who’s padding around with excess kilos under their fur. The rate of obesity is estimated to be about 35%-40% of the adult cat population in Australia. With more than 3.3 million cats living amongst us that’s a lot of fatty-boomba cats. As with humans, weight gain happens over time. It’s not like we wake up one day and overnight we’ve doubled in size. Because of that, it can be hard for pet parents to recognise that their Fluffy is fat. Fat cats run an increased risk of developing conditions such as arthritis, heart and respiratory complications, and diabetes just to name a few. But mostly it comes down to Fluffy having a lesser quality of life, and most probably a shorter one, to share with us.
So, what’s a healthy weight for your cat? Your vet will be the one to give you specific advice here as it depends on the gender and breed of your cat. Pussa and Soph are both female domestic shorthairs and, it would appear, fairly small-framed cats so I need to keep them a shade under 4kg. In-between vet visits, which no doubt both you and you resident feline hope are not more often than the required annual trip, you can gauge your cat’s weight by:
- Being able to see that Fluffy has a waist behind the ribs;
- Being able to feel the ribs, spine and shoulders, and for there to just be a slight layer of fat covering them; and
- Looking from the side, their waist doesn’t hang lower than the ribcage (often referred to as an abdominal tuck).
For most humans the approach weight loss is to reduce calorie intake and increase energy output. The same applies to Favourite Feline. The what and how much of food is a topic in itself, but exercise, especially for indoor cats, is really important. If you’ve had your feline for a while you’ll know what their toy preferences are. Pussa has always been active and loves chasing stuff, so our Cat Teasers are right up her alley. Soph on the other hand is anything but Sporty Spice-Cat but she does get very excited (frankly, at times it’s like she’s possessed) about Fur Balls and Mice. They are often left on the floor at Cat Habitat HQ and for no apparent reason she will just start pouncing, batting and carrying them all over the place. Try a few different toys and see what your favourite feline likes the most. For indoor cats make sure they get a good 10 or 15 minutes of exercise every day which not only helps them stay healthy, but can also combat furniture-destroying behaviours.
I have to say, seeing them both being silly and having fun is one of the greatest enjoyments of my day.