Posted by: secondchancehumanesociety | July 8, 2008

Cat too Chunky?

Jimmy - (who is not chunky)

Jimmy - (who is not chunky)

Dear Pet Column,

I am writing with a concern about my cat who appears to be on the pudgy side. She is not very active and does love her food. Just how chunky is too chunky for a cat? Sincerely, Chunky Cat Curious

Dear Curious,

As a cat myself (I go by the name of Jimmy) who is not pudgy I volunteered to answer this week’s pet column letter. The most important thing to remember regarding this topic is that we cats have the luxury of not caring about looking good in a swimsuit. Because of this level of innocence we also rely upon our parents to keep us healthy.

Like people, weight issues with pets can be complicated and resulting from various factors such as breed, body type, environment, and heredity issues – but cat parents still need to help us manage these contributing factors. It is you who are truly responsible for our health, our weight, and our happiness when you bring us into your home, as we are now your dependent.

I would like to outline the current medical concerns relative to portly pets. Obesity in cats (and dogs) involves a direct increase in risk for heart and lung problems, diabetes, allergies, and arthritis. Heftiness can also contribute to increased risks and complications if your pet ever has to be anesthetized for surgery.

Also, excess pudge can lead to skin problems and of course slow your pet down, which makes weight maintenance more challenging. As cats are naturally quite athletic, spry, and nimble creatures, you restrict us from this ease of movement when allowing us to become too heavy.

Pet obesity is on the increase with estimates around 33 per cent of the nation’s cats and 45 per cent of dogs being overweight. The ideal weight of your pet is best judged by your pet’s Veterinarian, however a few basic guidelines exist that are useful for general assessment. For cats there is a rather easy visual test which involves observing your cat for a sagging and swinging belly. Like humans, sagging and swinging midlines are not a good thing….

With dogs and cats you can try feeling the rib cage – this is easier to assess on dogs – but if you can not feel your pet’s rib cage, again, not a good thing (while actually seeing the rib cage is equally not good).

As is often the case, prevention is the best approach. Feed your pet as recommended by your Vet, avoid too many treats, and keep your pet active, making daily time for play and exercise. Cut back at feeding time if your pet is becoming lard-laden, although not to the point where your cat will suffer nutritionally or not feel satisfied. Rather, consider a diet with high-fiber and low-fat that allows your cat to consume the same amount but with fewer calories. Feeding a higher quality pet food is advantageous as the lower quality ones can often have excess fillers that your pet does not need (like cheap fast food as compared to a nutritious home cooked meal).

Another recommendation I would make, as I am not yet a fully trained veterinarian, is to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as weight issues can be caused by other medical issues and should be ruled out.

In closing, I want to clarify that just because I am responding to your inquiry on pet obesity does not mean that I am obese. I am a handsome and social feline awaiting a forever home where I can burn calorie after calorie purring and rubbing my soft face across your hands to show you how much you are appreciated every day.

Call the Second Chance Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet or learn about SCHS Spay/Neuter Vouchers, Volunteer & Foster Care and other Programs. Visit to see our adoptable pets. Responses to Pet Columns can be sent to:




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