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Cat Obesity: Symptoms and Prevention

There is no doubt that cats are excellent pets. They are among the most popular pets in America, second only to dogs. Unfortunately one in three felines in America is obese, which can lead to serious health problems if not controlled.  Feline obesity is a major problem affecting our furry companions and consequently us - the parents. As a feline lover and parent, it is crucial to learn how to tell if your cat is overweight or bordering on obesity, what causes it and what you can do about it.  This article will tell you all you need to know, but first, here is a breakdown of what cat obesity is and the dangers.  What is Cat Obesity? When you hear that a cat is obese, the picture that first comes to mind must be that of Garfield. To some extent, obesity in cats is the accumulation of excess fats. When a cat’s body weight is 10-20% above its ideal weight, it is considered overweight. But when it exceeds the 20% mark, the cat is obese.  Obesity is not just a dormant accumulation of fat tissue. Fat cells of obese cats are alive and make obesity a self-sustaining and self-destructive condition. What do we mean when we say fat cells are alive?  Previously, scientists thought that fat cells were inactive parts of the body. The perception was that fat cells only stored fat. But that changed when studies revealed that fat tissues are biologically active and often synthesize several biological compounds that regulate body functions. In other words, fat tissues are alive and can wreak havoc in your cat’s body. The Dangers of Obesity in Cats Obese cats experience several health and lifestyle challenges. They have a higher risk of developing diabetes, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), osteoarthritis, liver disease, lameness, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal conditions, random and unexpected inflammation, and skin conditions like dandruff.  Other health adversities due to feline obesity include:  Increased risk of hypertension Lower immunity Reduced respiratory function. Possible neurological problems Increased risk of developing cancer  In short, fat cats experience a lower quality of life and a shorter life. Therefore, it is crucial to know the causes and risk factors and try to avoid them. Causes of Obesity in Cats Whenever we see an obese cat, we straightaway think it is overfed and inactive. But the problem is more complicated and has many risk factors. Some factors are specific to the cat, and others relate to the diet and feeding habits. Cat-specific Factors Age: Older cats aged 8-12 years are less active physically and consequently more prone to becoming overweight than younger cats. Gender: Female cats accumulate and store fat faster than their male counterparts. Neutered/Spayed: Fixed cats are also less active and have bigger appetites than their yet-to-be-fixed counterparts. Household: Indoor cats (like cats living in apartments) have fewer opportunities to exercise and burn calories than cats allowed to experience outdoors regularly. Underlying health issues: Unusual gain in weight could also be an indicator of underlying health issues. Some diseases can cause rapid weight gain. They include hypothyroidism, insulinoma, and Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease). On the other hand, conditions like arthritis cause joint pain. They reduce a cat’s physical activity significantly. Diet-specific Factors Type and quantity of food: Dry foods are often rich in calories and promote weight gain more than protein-packed canned foods. Also, improper measurement of food portions can cause the cat to overeat and gain weight faster. So, if your cat eats dry food, make sure to do your research on which brands are best. Poor feeding habits: If your cat feeds too fast, she will moan and cry more often, and you could end up giving more food, off schedule, to keep her quiet. The same happens if you provide only one large meal in a day and not several (small quantity) meals. Too many treats also promote weight gain.  Obesity is a more complex problem because fat cells synthesize compounds that make it worse. An obese cat will inadvertently be less interested in physical activities and more prone to ailments. Thus it is crucial to observe and keep tabs on the cat’s weight and take measures to prevent obesity. Symptoms of Obesity Bodyweight alone is not sufficient to tell if your cat is obese. Visit the vet regularly or have vets come over for checkups. Vets employ several techniques to tell if a cat is obese such as Body Condition Score (BCS) charts. These charts give instructions on assessing the look and feel of a cat at specific parts of the body. Some of the assessments are visual, for example, checking if the waistline is visible or not. Other examinations rely on touching. The vet, using the palms, would feel the rib and hip area to determine if they are fat-covered.  As you can see, these tests are somewhat technical, and without training, you could end up with incorrect inferences. What symptoms can you look out for (as a layperson) to determine if your cat is overweight or obese?  Know the average weight of your cat and check it regularly. Depending on the breed, the average weight will differ. Most cats lie in the 9-12 pounds range. But big cats like Maine Coons can weigh as much as 25 lbs. Check their physical activity levels. Cats are generally playful and physically active. If your cat is not interested in play and wants to lie down all day and night, there could be an underlying problem. Stroke the cat around the belly and rib areas; you should feel the ribs. If you cannot, the cat is probably overweight. Take a look at your cat’s body profile. If you cannot see a distinct waistline from above, or if you notice a swinging pouch near the hind legs, the cat could be overweight. Look at the cat’s fur, especially at the backside. Is it neat, or can you see greasy patches, matted hair, and flaky skin? If it is the latter, your cat cannot reach that part of her body and self groom due to excess weight.  If you suspect your cat is overweight, visit the vet for a proper check-up.   Preventing Cat Obesity The best way to treat obesity in cats is to adopt healthy practices and avoid or mitigate the risk factors. Consider ways to improve the cat's life through diet and activity. Here are tips on how you can prevent cat obesity.  Provide correct food: Avoid high-calorie foods. Instead, feed your cat on protein-rich foods and give them the recommended portions at the prescribed frequency (often mentioned on the packaging).  Avoid indulgent feeding: The cat may enjoy treats and scraps of human food like bread. Such foods are often rich in carbs and not part of a cat’s natural diet. Cats are obligate carnivores. Thus, meat should be predominant in their diets. By substituting meat with other foods, especially calorie-rich treats and human foods, you increase the risk of obesity.  Keep your cat mentally active: Like humans, cats often turn to food when bored. In an environment with plenty of food and few activities, a cat is likely to become overweight. But you can restrict access to food and provide mentally stimulating activities to avoid boredom.  Keep your cat physically active: play with your cat often. Provide opportunities to exercise and stretch their limbs. Cats love scratching posts, climbing, chasing little rodent-like toys, and other activities.  Take your cat for regular checkups. If you want to keep cat obesity at bay, you cannot avoid the vet’s office. As we discovered, obesity in cats is not always due to overeating and low physical activity. Certain ailments and health issues can also contribute. Take your cat to the vet for regular checkups. Early diagnosis often makes it easier to deal with such conditions and ailments.   Obesity in Cats, A Final Word Obesity in cats is a problem that generates several health and lifestyle issues. Obese cats are likely to develop chronic ailments and experience a lower quality of life. Obesity is a self-sustaining condition, and treatment requires plenty of guided effort and consistency.  Studies reveal that there could be a close relationship between overweight pets and their owners’ weight issues. The lifestyle and environmental factors underpinning obesity often occur and influence both. Therefore, preventing obesity is beneficial for both the pet and owner. Be on the lookout for the factors that underpin obesity and its symptoms and take proactive steps to avoid it.
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Kitten Care 101: Bringing Home your New Kitten

So you’ve decided the time is right to welcome in a new furry member of the family? Who doesn’t want a kitten – they are a lot of fun and there is definitely no shortage on cuteness, but they are a big responsibility as well. Some things you’ll want to consider before adopting your net cat; would a mature cat be better suited to your lifestyle or do you have the time and energy needed to raise a kitten? Should you adopt more than one cat to offer them some companionship? Are you willing to commit to being a pet parent for the full length of a cats life? The average lifespan for an indoor cat is around 15 years! So before you decide between adopting a kitten or a more mature cat – make sure you are prepared for the commitment that comes with raising a kitten. So what do you need to know to make sure you start off on the right paw with your new kitten? Follow along and we will make sure you are set up for success! Before Adoption Before you bring home your new kitten, there are some things you will want to get squared away to ensure a smooth transition into your home and family! Find a vet One of the most important steps to take first is to get set up with a good veterinarian. It is a really good idea to take your new kitten in for an exam right away. They will be able to check your cat for any health concerns and answer any lingering questions you may have on providing your kitten with the very best care – like selecting the most nutritional food or litter training tips. Supplies Before you bring home your new kitten, you will want to make sure you are well stocked on everything your new friend will need. Cat food: do your research or consult your vet to select the perfect food for your kitten Cat box & litter: ökocat wood clumping cat litter has you covered with 4 different varieties to meet your needs as a new kitten parent. ökocat super soft is a great litter to start with for new kittens and their tender paws ökocat dust free for kitties with sensitive noses or allergies Cat carrier: essential item for safe travel and trips to the vet Scratching post: avoid your cat tearing up your furniture by offering them a scratching post or cat tree Toys: toys provide your cat with a great way to get out their kitten energy, form bonds with you, and redirect their uses to play by scratching you or your furniture Food & water bowls Collar with bell and ID tags: especially important if you plan to let your cat outside, the bell will help warn away any birds in your yard Grooming supplies: a brush and nail clippers are essential tools to keep your cat’s fur unmated and their claws trimmed to avoid nasty scratches Ready your home One last thing to check of the “To Do List” before you bring your kitten home, is to make sure your space it ready for them! Kittens are wild little creatures. They are curious, feisty, and full of energy and will be sure to keep you on your feet. So take stock of your home, and put away breakables and anything that looks like an accident waiting to happen. Those wiley cats love to munch on those houseplants, but there are many that can be toxic to cats. Luckily ASPCA has created a list of toxic houseplants to help you keep your fur friends safe.   Welcome Home It is finally time to welcome your new kitten into their forever home! It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of having a new pet, but remember to go slow. Your kitten will need to time to adjust and feel safe and comfortable in their new home. The best way to help them with this transition is to set up a designated space for them to get acclimated to before you let them roam freely. This area should be away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house and full of any essentials they will need to be comfortable – food and water, a comfy bed, and a litter box. Start by placing their carrier in the room, leaving the door open for them to leave when they feel ready. Patience will be the golden rule here. Give your new friend the time and space they need to get used to their surroundings and their new family – you will all be cuddling and playing together in no time!
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7 Top Reasons Why Cats Make Great Pets

Yes, cats do have a mind of their own but they can also be very fun and playful and are generally easier to care for than dogs or other pets.  1. Cats Are Wonderful Companions   Cats can be very independent but they also like to just hang out or sit on your lap and purr.  There is nothing better than a cat purring on your lap after a long day. Usually they are as affectionate and loving as dogs, as long as it's on their terms, and they don't require a walk every day. They are soft and fit perfectly in your lap.  2. Cats Are Great for Apartments Apartments are more likely to allow cats than dogs. They require less space and are generally fine with living in a smaller home without having to go outside.  Because cats use the litter box and don’t need to be taken outside to use the bathroom or to exercise, it is easy to keep a cat in upper-level apartments or even high-rises.  3. Cats Are Fairly Low-Maintenance Kitties are mostly self-sufficient since they don’t need to be taken outside multiple times a day for bathroom and exercise walks. This also means less dirty paw prints and cleaning. Plus, there's no need to spend a lot of time on training after they learn to use the litter box.  Though cats still need love and attention just like dogs, they don’t require quite as much interaction as dogs. A cat is content to curl up next to you while you work, while a dog may demand your undivided attention. Cats can also be left home by themselves for longer periods of time, even overnight, and are usually less likely to get into trouble while you are gone. Just make sure they aren't using your favorite sofa or chair as a scratching post! 4. Most Cats Do Not Need Regular Bathing or Grooming Because cats spend so much of their time grooming themselves, so you rarely need to bathe them. They don't roll around in stinky things or wade through mud puddles. Cats really do not like to be bathed and there is no need to take them to a groomer, unless they are a long hair cat, saving a lot of money.  5. Cats Can Do Their Business Inside Cats don’t need to be taken outside in the middle of the night to do their business. Cleaning a litterbox is not fun but it is still easier and than having to go outside at night or in pouring down rain and having to carry around little baggies to pick up waste. Using an easy to clean litter like okocat, makes cleaning the litterbox less of a chore, plus it lasts longer too.  Cats are small enough that they can get plenty of exercise indoors, especially if you have plenty of vertical spaces for your feline friend to climb.  5. Cats Are Easy to Litter Box Train Most kittens already know how to use the litter box as soon as you bring them home. Even cats that were born stray or feral instinctively know to bury their waste after going to the bathroom. Usually all you have to do is show her where the litter box is and show her how to dig in the (clean) litter using your own hand.  6. Cats Can Be Left Alone  Because cats don’t need to be taken outside to do their business every few hours, they can be left home alone all day. Cats are also less prone to separation anxiety, and can tolerate being home for longer periods of time without their human. Cats can even be left home alone for a couple days as long as leave enough food and water and have enough litter boxes. 7. Their Food is Cheaper Cats generally eat much less than dogs, especially larger dog breed and normally do not require special diets or treats or bones.  
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5 easy ways to prevent cat litter tracking in the home

How can you not love that sweet face and soft purr? There are certain parts of cat care that can be a little challenging, however; like cat litter tracked all over the house, on the floor, in the bed, on the couch… ugh! All litters track to some extent, but keep reading to discover 5 easy tricks to contain litter in the box where it belongs. 
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