Cat obesity is a common problem among felines. Their bodies metabolize food and energy in a similar fashion to humans. When they consume more calories than their bodies need, the excess is stored as fat. As a general rule, cats with 20 percent or more body fat are considered severely overweight. Aside from their extra-fluffy and full-figured appearances, they may be noticeably lethargic, suffer from frequent urinary tract infections and show signs of declining health.
Symptoms of cat obesity are often most apparent in a cat's physical capabilities and agility, or lack thereof. Obese cats will likely ignore a lizard or cat toy if it is out of reach, whereas other felines may go out of their way for a chance to swat at something. Walking up and down the stairs may be too exhausting or difficult for them, too, and they rarely run or play. When they do attempt to participate in an activity, it is usually short-lived and they may appear clumsy.
In contrast, leaner cats often run from room to room for no apparent reason. To the chagrin of their owners, and in a matter of minutes, physically fit felines may race down the stairs, climb the curtains, hop on the bookcase, knock down some picture frames, run back upstairs, and then do it all over again. In the meantime, the fatter cats are frequently watching the action from the sidelines with nary a tail wag. While it may seem that sedated felines are just harmlessly lazy and calm, the inactivity is actually quite damaging to their overall health and well-being.
Aside from the more obvious symptoms of cat obesity, felines with weight problems are more likely to develop chronic urinary tract infections. This is largely due to the negative effect it has on the animal's kidneys. When this problem occurs, blood may be present in the urine, and cats might noticeably strain when they relieve themselves. To alert their owners to the problem, they may urinate somewhere outside the litter box, such as a bathtub, towel or carpeting.
When an animal shows symptoms of a urinary tract infection, it is important to take the pet to a veterinarian. Usually, a course of antibiotics can cure the infection. Left untreated, however, it may become fatal.
While at the vet, it is a good idea to inquire about a special diet to combat cat obesity. Some low-calorie cat foods are available at pet stores and supermarkets, but when felines begin to show signs of declining health, it is best to seek the advice of a professional. There is no magic pill or overnight cure for cat obesity. With the right diet and treatment plan in place, however, plus-sized cats will eventually slim down and enjoy playtime again.