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8:03 AM   April 27, 2015
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Health Risks in Obese Cats

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Customers may laugh about their chunky cats, swapping stories about how many cups of kibble their pets eat or how many treats they chow down, but feline obesity is no joke. As with people, cats carrying extra weight stress virtually all organs of their bodies, and when those organs are overloaded, it can lead to disease and even death.

Most retailers care about their customers’ pets, so to help their cats live long and healthy lives, share these health consequences of obesity with owners of overweight felines:

  • Diabetes mellitus: One of the most common complications of obesity in cats is diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, heavy or obese cats are up to four times more likely to develop diabetes. Obesity causes increased secretion of insulin in response to the higher blood glucose level in the cat. It also causes a greater demand for insulin. When the cat’s requirements for insulin exceed its ability to produce insulin, it develops diabetes mellitus. Owners of obese cats who are concerned about their pets’ increased food and water consumption and higher frequency of urination, recommend they consult their veterinarian right away for a consultation.
  • Skin problems, including dry, flaky skin and feline acne: Obese cats are twice as likely to develop non-allergic skin conditions when compared to cats of optimal weight, according to the AVMA. The most common conditions: dry, flaky skin and feline acne. Obese cats often have problems grooming themselves adequately, which may result in skin problems, too. If cat owners are concerned about their pets’ matted coats or flaky skin, retailers may want to recommend a weight-management diet or fewer treats.
  • Liver disease: Clinically called hepatic lipidosis, overweight cats often have an increased amount of fat built up around their livers. The condition can result in decreased liver function. It can be life-threatening if an obese cat, for any reason, does not eat, loses weight rapidly or is otherwise stressed. Help cat owners with overweight cats prevent liver disease by recommending a lower-calorie diet and increased play time with interactive teaser toys.
  • Lameness and arthritis: According to the AVMA, the risk of lameness and arthritis in heavy or obese cats is up to five times that of normal-weight cats. Experts believe this happens because of the extra weight causes increased force on joints, such as when the cat jumps down from a high place. If customers mention that their cats hesitate when jumping from a high place or have trouble moving around, suggest they visit their veterinarian.
  • Decreased quality of life: Overweight cats may develop a variety of health problems, be uncomfortable or in pain, and lose their ability to clean and groom themselves. And what cat owner wants that for their pet?

Of course, customers concerned about their cats’ health should visit their veterinarian. But pet specialty retailers can educate their cat-owning clientele about the dangers of feline obesity and offer alternatives to food treats. Rather than giving their pets fat-filled or an extra can of wet food, recommend “treating” them with play time instead. It’ll be for their pets’ own good! <HOME>

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