We’ve all heard the term "fat cat," which usually refers to a wealthy individual who throws dollars and pounds into the wind as if they were pennies. But in reality, the increasing number of overweight animals are becoming an epidemic issue in the USA, the UK and many other countries around the world. Obese cats and dogs are tipping the scales in greater numbers every day and the issue is becoming more alarming as time passes.
According to some recent statistics, the growing pet obesity problem, especially in Britain, is leading to cats (and many other other companion animals) that will ultimately outweigh their healthier and leaner counterparts in just a few years. For example, vets in the UK are reporting 80% of animals they see in their daily practice are either overweight or obese and this includes dogs, rabbits, even rodents and many other household pets.
The real problem is the fact that our furry felines and fluffy canines face the same type of health risks as humans do when it comes to being overweight or obese. These include the possibility of developing heart problems, the early onset of diabetes, arthritis, hormonal difficulties and many other preventable issues that can be avoided through increased exercise and dietary changes. Several resources are available to help pet owners get strategic about how to help their pet lose weight (or even prevent them from becoming overweight!). Some, like Excited Cats, can even put you in touch with veterinarians!
The issue we have with most of our homebound pets, especially cats, is that while they’re safely confined indoors, they aren’t allowed to explore their predatory instincts of hunting and stalking. Unless your house has an insect or rodent problem, felines are left to another part of their basic, hereditary behaviors, being lazy and sedentary.
On the other hand, male canines are well-known as the hunters inside their clan. Think about the long tradition of hunting dogs all over Europe throughout the centuries. Being bred for nothing more than this type of activity, even "ratters" from Norwich were meant to have a specific assignment to keep the rodent population under control. Without this responsibility, they’re becoming uninterested, bored and lethargic.
Think about cats in the wild, or “big cats” as they’re often called, they usually spend their time napping, lounging around and "chilling" the vast majority of the time. But on the other hand, they still needed to hunt and capture their daily meal, which requires a great deal of activity and exercise. While male cats do the majority of napping and mating, the females do most of the hunting and caring for the litters, but each participates in outdoor activities on a daily level.
Unless your indoor cat or dog shares these behavioral needs on an indoor level every day, they’ll simply lounge around and wait for the arrival of their next meal. Even if you play with your favorite four-legged friend on a daily level, they’re still not benefiting from many the rewards that can be found outdoors that include:
While there are some downsides to being outdoors, mostly they come from dangers found with possible injuries that could occur from car accidents, becoming lost or stolen or being attacked by other animals. But fences, a watchful eye, and other offensive maneuverings can go a long way to get some much needed outdoor exercise for our animals.
As always, you should check with your veterinarian before making drastic changes to your dog or cat’s dietary and exercise regime. But your animal’s doctor will likely agree that spending more time outdoors, giving them an increase in their outdoor activity levels and a better diet, will all ensure they spend more years with us.