But some believe that even more cats are overweight. PetMD.com reports that a 2011 study conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that more than 50 percent of cats are either overweight or obese.
In addition, indoor cats are more likely to be overweight. Not only do these animals tend to eat more out of boredom, they also have fewer opportunities for exercise.
Similar to human obesity, felines who are overweight are at risk for various health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, certain forms of cancer and lower urinary tract disease. In addition, obesity in cats is frequently associated with a condition known as hepatic lipidosis. This is a severe form of acute liver failure in cats. It typically occurs in animals who are obese and have undergone a brief period of "stress" which causes anorexia.
Because of this, pet health experts say it's best to prevent your cat from getting fat in the first place.
Even though many cats can be picky eaters, feeding your cat a high-quality commercial cat food is best, as it will contain all the nutrients he needs. It's also important to remember that your cat may prefer several small meals throughout the course of the day. While this is generally not a problem, owners of multiple cats should not make it a habit to leave their pets' food available at all times. This ensures that one animal is not eating more than he should while the other is being deprived.
Although many cat owners may want to feed their pets table food on occasion, they must remember that some things can be dangerous for felines. This includes milk, onions, garlic, chives, grapes, raisins, sweets, gum, avocados, citrus fruit, macadamia nuts, mushrooms, potatoes, yeast dough, liver and raw eggs.
Additionally, it's important to note that because cats are little, even small amounts of extra food can be too much for them. According to the Chicago Tribune, feeding a 12-pound cat a slice of lunch meat is like a human eating a whole turkey.
Helping your cat stay active through playtime and exercise is another way to avoid weight gain. Toys that encourage play can not only help your cat stay active but enhance the bond between the two of you. Just a few five to 10-minute play sessions each day is usually enough, according to the newspaper. Occasionally putting toys away and reintroducing them later on can help keep him interested and engaged can make playtime easier as well.
Many pet health experts also recommend "hiding" a small amount of your cat's food in various toys and puzzles throughout the house. This encourages the animal to move around more and allows indoor cats to do some "hunting," animal columnist Steve Dale told the Chicago Tribune.
In addition to a healthy diet and exercise, bringing your cat to the vet at least once a year can help ensure his weight is monitored. After all, many pet owners may not notice small weight gains or losses because they see their animals every day.