For a domestic cat to become obese – and veterinarians report an obesity epidemic among the domestic cat population in the United States and the United Kingdom – they have to eat more food than they need.
This has always puzzled me as domestic cats have inherited their behaviours from their wildcat cousin in North Africa. These wildcats don’t become obese. They eat all they need and no more. They maintain a good BMI. If they don’t it is because they are underweight due to a lack of prey animals. You never see an obese small wild cat 🤔.
So, what is going on? You won’t see a top-quality scientific study on this important topic. If someone can find one, please tell me in a comment.
This is what I think is going on. We can break the reason down into several components.
A substantial contributor to domestic cat obesity is dry cat food; so convenient for their owner but so unnatural for the cat. Too dry and too tasty due to taste enhancers sprayed on the tasteless ‘cardboard’ pellets made from diseased livestock and God knows what other sources. All the pathogens are burnt out of the horrible raw material under intense heat. There are too many carbohydrates in dry cat food too as it needs carbs in its manufacture. And grains. Not enough pure animal protein.
Bottom line: dry cat food is very tasty – often more tasty than decent wet cat food – which encourages a cat to eat it when they don’t need to. P.S. I give my cat Hill’s Dental (large pellets) for nightime grazing.
A lot (all?) of obese cats will be full-time indoor cats with nothing to do because the home is not environmentally enriched as the experts call it and demand. Not enough things to entertain the cat like climbers and interesting runs etc.
So what do full-time indoor cats do especially when their owner is away? They snooze and kill time which means that they are burning less energy than they would normally if they were exploring the outside environment and/or chasing prey. In short the cat burns more calories when allowed outside than when kept inside.
The cat is prevented from doing what they do naturally which includes eating the correct amount.
If a cat is genetically programmed to eat a certain amount of food daily but is not burning the same amount of calories that they would normally burn if allowed outside they will end up putting on weight. The input of calories is greater than the output because the cat is living in an unnatural world inside the home and eating unnatural food.
The domestic cat is programmed from its wildcat inheritance to eat a certain amount of food daily to function properly. It is about survival. However, if the cat is unable to take into account the fact that they are not burning the usual amount of calories they end up eating more calories than they need and put on weight. There is an added problem: too many cats are bored and they seek some pleasure in eating like their human caregiver.
Domestic cats becoming obese is a combination problem:
- Unnatural food
- Unnatural surroundings
- Lack of activity
- Mind is tricked into eating too much. The cat does not compensate properly for an idle lifestyle by eating less.
The above applies to the obese cats but not all cats. VCA Hospitals say that an extraordinary 60 percent of domestic cats are obese in North America. So the above applies to most domestic cats. 😒.
- Indoor cats should not be free-grazers. Their food should be rationed
- Indoor cats should be fed best quality wet cat food
- Their home should be environmentally enriched which includes puzzle feeders
- The owner should be home more if possible to play with their cat and ensure food rationing.
Cats like humans need a degree of activity to maintain health. People say that their cats sleeps all day and night. For 20 hours a day. No suprise as this applies to full-time indoor cats living in a sterile environment without mental stimulation. They become unhealthy because of a combination of cheap dry food and nothing to do. Their lifespans are shortened.
Comments welcome as these are my personal thoughts. Although my personal thoughts are based on a solid 16 years of domestic and wild cat study! 😉.
P.S. Compounding factors
- Cat owners normalising obesity so that they believe it is a normal weight
- Cats owners transfer the problem at 1 above to their cat and are unable to detect feline obesity
- Cat owners who love their cat to death – literally and give them too many tasty human treats.
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