They say “love is in the eyes of the beholder”. So what does that mean for us, proud pet parents? There is no doubt in every pet person’s mind that our feline friends are getting chubbier. But how much of this chubbiness (and its nefarious consequences) are we really worried about and how do we perceive it?
Ready to be shocked? We’ll show you some stats:
1. Worrisome numbers
20 % of cats nowadays, especially those in urban areas (mostly household cats) are overweight. In some countries that percentage is even higher – from 30 up to 60%. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention survey determined that in the US, an estimated 54% of dogs and 58% of cats are overweight or obese.
2. Why is this so worrying?
Overweight and obese cats are at higher risk of developing serious illnesses with liver failure and diabetes at the top of the list. But the list doesn’t stop there: joint problems, urinary problems, skin diseases and even cancer. It turns out male, neutered and adult cats with excess weight are the highest risk group.
3. What do pet parents think?
Most people believe that it is their responsibility to learn all about their pet’s dietary needs. But some studies show that only 55% of pet owners decide their pet is the correct weight based on professional advice. It seems a lot of pet parents are more inclined to rely on common sense. But how accurate are we when it comes to evaluating our little chubby buddy? We’re all biased when we believe we have their best interest at heart. Why should we withhold treats and food, when we can’t resist those begging eyes? Having an overweight pet isn’t just a pet problem, it’s a human problem. Because we’re the ones feeding them.
4. Tutor perception
One study in Portugal surveyed 70 cats and cat owners at the vet and compared professional assessment to pet parent opinion. Surprisingly, only 27% of pet owners classified their pet’s weight as accurately as veterinarians. Is it surprising? Maybe not. On a scale of 1 to 9, where 1 is extremely thin, 5 is ideal (normal) and 9 is obese, 62% of cat owners classified their cat’s body condition LOWER than the professional evaluation using the same scale. Out of these pet parents, 89% had overweight or obese cats and were clearly underestimating the cat’s real weight.
Almost all of us (94%) agree that it’s our responsibility, as owners, to learn about our pets’ dietary needs. So why are we making so many mistakes and letting our darling kitties end up on the high-end of the scale? It’s all about our own perception of their condition and not being able to resist those “puss-in-boots” saucer eyes when they beg for food. Lack of exercise can also weigh in heavily (literally) on the overweight problem.
Next time your veterinarian or professional at the clinic tells you your kitty-cat is on the chubby side, please take heed. They’re making sure you don’t have to go back there in the future, with a chronic condition derived from excess weight.
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