By Gia Lara
The term chonk is defined by the internet as an aggressively chubby house cat and has been a part of my vocabulary for being awed by fat cats online. The cat community on social media has been known to glorify overweight cats. While chonky cats seem to look cuter than lean ones, I know fully well from experience that vets do not approve of fattening up our feline companions. Obesity is a complex disease, where accumulation of excess body fat increases the risk of a variety of health problems. MEASURE UP One way to check if a cat may be considered obese is when they weigh 20% or more above their ideal body weight. If you are not able to feel your cat’s ribs, the cat’s waist seems to have disappeared behind an obviously round belly, or fatty layers around the abdomen and face are present, then the cat may be grossly obese. The best method to assess what is normal weight for our cat’s age, size and frame is to enlist the help of a veterinarian. Obesity can cause or predispose medical conditions, such as diabetes, feline lower urinary disease, hepatic lipidosis, and heart disease, just to name a few. It also reduces a cat’s life expectancy. Once your cat’s optimal weight is determined by your veterinarian, a weight loss plan will be started. It combines feeding and exercise, both of which are carefully monitored so that weight loss happens gradually. You need to be transparent and honest with their vet and to discuss the type and amount of food your cat is eating, including treats. Unfortunately, always keeping their food bowls full is not helpful, because there is no way to find out how many calories are being consumed by our cats. There is also no magic food that every cat can eat to their heart’s desires and still maintain a healthy weight. The vet will help identify and recommend which food may suit your cat best, including portion and meal frequency.