The lazy western lifestyle is rubbing off on domestic cats. That sounds like a tabloid headline. It is an exaggeration but there is a modicum of truth. Over the past 40 years, people in the West have become less active and so have their cats. There are no obese wild cats, feral cats and barn cats. These cats are also obsessed with food – finding it. They burn off the calories in exercise.
If you do a search for “my cat is obsessed with food” or Google these three words together with a space between them:
….you’ll see piles of webpages on the subject and lots of cat owners looking for reasons why their cat can’t self-regulate food intake. Why are their cats obsessed with food? These cat owners are almost desperate for help.
A cat that is supposedly obsessed about food will constantly ask for it. It would appear that domestic cats all over the Western World are pestering their humans to distraction for food.
It seems to be a cat food obsession phenomenon because a good 40%+ cats in the USA are obese, we are reliably told. In the UK the figure is lower but still way too high at 25%.
There are many reasons, some of which are very subtle and some are health related (i.e hyperthyroidism) as to why a cat wants to eat more than he needs. However, is there an underlying primary reason or reasons for this phenomenon?
As usual I believe the answer lies in the simple task of observing the wild cats. The domestic cat is, we know, very close to the wild cat in behavior and mentality.
As mentioned, there are no fat wild cats in the wild. Period, full stop. Unless they are in cages 😉 You’ll see some overweight tigers and other large cats including hybrid tiger/lions called ligers in captivity.
Cat domestication and all its ramifications sometimes fails the cat. It is essentially unnatural. It has become too refined. Commercial cat food is not natural enough. It is a shame that cats have got used to it. They don’t really have a appetite for raw food anymore.
The domestic cat lifestyle is unnatural and not challenging enough. The cat is provided for completely. When a cat is totally domesticated and has everything provided on a plate he becomes lazy and indolent…and fat.
Cats get bored because their life lacks the challenges they are so good at facing and overcoming. Boredom can lead to overeating. Commercial cat food is designed to be tasty (highly palatable) because it is commercial. The companies are competing for the cat’s custom. They have to please the cat; make it taste better even if the quality is questionable sometimes.
If cats like the taste and they are bored they’ll ask for more. People give in to the cat’s demands because it makes life easier.
When people are also overweight and less active it is even easier to allow their cats to be overweight and less active. The norms and standards have been shifted. People accept being overweight themselves. They are bound to let their cat become overweight.
The cat obsessed with food phenomenon is a product of the domestication of the cat. The underlying problem is a slightly unhealthy mix of human behavior, capitalism and an unnatural environment for the cat. It is another example of a little (or big?) failure in the domestication of the cat from the cat’s standpoint. The other example is the cat overpopulation problem. That is a human creation too.
To put things in context; there are lots of great cat caretakers and fit cat companions. I recognize and totally acknowledge that. There is, though, a cat obesity problem and it is due to a lifestyle problem. These are just my ideas. I respect the ideas of others.