Although this is a complicated subject and there are many reasons why some cat owners allow their cats to become overweight, a very useful study published online on the Oxford Academic websiteA tells me that probably the biggest reason why domestic cats become overweight is because their owner feeds them with too many treats of human food and in addition they do not sufficiently recognise the fact that their cat has become overweight. Also, the study indicates that they feed their cat too much because they themselves are more needy of their cat’s companionship (my interpretation of the info).
The study published a series of tables, which I have republished below, which provide insights into the thinking of owners of normal and overweight cats on a variety of topics. I’ve added my comments below each table. They provide a useful insight into the attitude and thinking of these two groups of cat guardians.
Advantages of cat ownership
All the usual advantages of cat ownership are referred to in this table because nowadays the main reason why people have a cat is for companionship. The impression I have from reading this information is that there is not a huge difference between the attitudes of owners of overweight and normal weight cats. In other words they both seek and receive the same advantages from their domestic cat companion. There is perhaps one point to be taken from this table which is this. Owners of overweight cats rely more on their cat for the advantages that they bring to them. This may be because these owners are more needy themselves.
Important points in everyday life with a cat
The information on this table supports the one above it. Owners of overweight cats appear to be more dependent upon their cat to enhance their life. For example, it is more likely that the owner of an overweight cat has a cat because they want to express their need to care.
Talking to your cat
The information here clearly indicates that overweight cat owners talk to their cat more and specifically more about work. What does this tell us? Once again I will speculate and say that overweight cat owners are perhaps more likely to use their cat as a receptacle for their angst. This implies that they themselves are more upset by day-to-day matters. I have to say that this cross-references quite well with a previous article that I wrote recently which refers to a study which concludes that neurotic cat owners are more likely to have overweight cats.
Choice of food
I have highlighted in the table above what I see as the biggest difference between normal and overweight cat owners. Owners of overweight cats are more than twice as likely to give their cat kitchen scraps. And they are more likely to give their cat moist or dry cat food plus extras. I take from this table the simple conclusion that overweight cat owners provide their cat with more food which is obviously the case but it does confirm this in a detailed way. There is little difference between their preferences for dry or wet food. Further, overweight cats are fed more raw meat than normal weight cats.
Perception of body condition of the cat
This table is about how cat owners perceive whether their cat is overweight or not. It indicates that overweight cat owners believe that their cat is overweight in only 19% of cases. In 28% of cases they thought that their cat was a little bit too big and on the borderline to being overweight. This is clearly an under-assessment of their cat’s weight. In other words they are not recognising that their cat is overweight. This may be because overweight cat owners have normalised both their own weight and the weight of their cat to the point where there are unable to truly assess it accurately.
Free-feeding domestic cats should be able to self-regulate but apparently not. This may be to do with dry cat food and its high calorie content making it too hard for cats to self-regulate. This lack of self-regulation affects the cats desire to eat human scraps even though they are feed adequately without resorting to added human treats.
A: Click this to see the study. – I can’t guarantee that the link will remain intact over time.