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Fat Cats Beware August 7, 2007

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Animals, Cats, Tough Stuff.

Sleepy Cat If you’ve got a cute, furry cat roaming around your flat or house, you might want to keep an eye on your beloved pet’s waistline. Not only is the incidence of diabetes rising in humans but it’s also rising in cats. To put it simply: a fat cat is at a higher risk for diabetes. Professor Danielle Gun-Moore of Edinburgh University led a recent study, which was published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The study looked at 14,000 cats and found that 1 in 230 pet cats in the United Kingdom is diabetic.

Diabetes And Blood Sugar

If you’re not familiar with diabetes, here’s a quick primer on the condition. Diabetes is a condition where the body can’t keep blood sugar at a normal level. See, your blood sugar is part of a finely tuned system. It likes to stay within a very comfortable and narrow range. In a healthy person, the body works to successfully maintain that narrow range. Whenever you eat food, that food is converted into an energy form known as glucose. After a meal, your blood glucose level goes up and your body wants to bring it back down to its favorite level. To accomplish that, it releases the hormone insulin from beta cells in the pancreas. Then, the insulin helps to transport glucose out of the bloodstream and into your body’s cells. This brings your blood sugar back into its desirable narrow range! On the flip side, if your blood sugar is low – like when you’re exercising or in between meals – alpha cells in your pancreas secrete a different hormone called glucagon. It’s a smart hormone because it triggers your body’s cells to release the glucose back into the bloodstream, effectively raising your blood sugar and bringing it back to that narrow range it adores so much.

So, what happens in diabetes? Well, in type 1 diabetes, the pancreas isn’t producing insulin, so it can’t keep blood sugar in that nice, narrow range. In type 2 diabetes, some insulin is produced but its regulation is abnormal, so the body’s cells can’t use it properly. The end result? Blood sugar gets elevated and when it’s too high, a person experiences some icky symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss and sickness.

Fat Cats

Cat Food You might be wondering what fat has to do with diabetes? Just like humans, cats who are overweight have a higher risk of insulin resistance. This risk occurs because fat interferes with the body’s ability to use insulin. It’s thought that an overweight cat is three times more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes in comparison with one at a healthy weight.

Keep Your Cat Healthy

Just like humans, cats can overeat, so be sure to feed your cat normal portions of a healthy cat food. Housebound cats may get less exercise, so try to let your cat roam whenever possible. You might also have to lay down the law and say no to giving your cat regular treats. Give your wee friend a cuddle instead!

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1. abbydonkrafts - August 8, 2007

Thanks for posting that informational entry! Many people are not aware of the damage they are doing by overfeeding their pets. Instead, they think of it as “spoiling them”. Hopefully some cat owners will see this and either not let their cat get fat, or do something to help their already fat cat get back to a normal level.

For anyone reading this: If you have an overweight pet, consult with your veterinarian for information on how to get it back in shape. Each type requires different steps, especially if there are existing problems such as arthritis.

2. timethief - August 8, 2007

What an informative and timely post. One cannot help but note that the lolcat meme has produced many photographs of overweight and obese cats. And as the owners are the dispensers of the food that creates these health risks the information and the advice you provide under Keep Your Cat Healthy is spot on.

3. Miss Weird Scientist - August 8, 2007

I know I’m a bit guilty of overdoing the treats with my dog. He does get a lot of walks so he’s still quite fit but with cats, the activity level is really different. Speaking of fat cats – this is a bit of a tangent – but there’s a local shop where the owners bring their cat in and let it roam about the place. Usually, it’s fast asleep but it’s enormous! I do mean enormous to the point that it’s the size of a small dog. Oddly enough, its name is ‘Monster.” Hehehehe.

4. abbydonkrafts - August 8, 2007

LOL! We have two shops on the Square, the newsstand and the art supply store, that have resident cats. They aren’t monsters, though!

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