Do you have a pet cat? If you do, you might know that feeding them is one of the ways we show them love.
But sometimes, giving Kitty too many snacks and food can lead to some health problems. Just like humans can become overweight, so can cats.
A new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign tells us more about what happens inside a cat when they eat a lot.
Almost 6 out of 10 cats in the U.S. are overweight.
This can lead to issues like diabetes and inflammation. We have many studies that look into helping cats lose weight, but not many about what happens when they gain weight. Kelly Swanson, a professor from the university, was curious about this and decided to study it.
The study involved 11 female cats. For two weeks, they were given a regular amount of dry cat food.
After this, the cats could eat as much as they wanted. The scientists checked their weight, took blood samples, and even looked at their poop regularly. They also watched how much the cats moved around.
What did they find? Once the cats were given the green light to eat as much as they wanted, they ate a lot!
At the start, on a scale from 1 to 9, their average weight score was around 5.4. But after 18 weeks, it jumped to 8.3! This is like a person gaining 30% of their weight. A score above 6 means a cat is overweight.
What happens inside chubby cats?
The team looked at how food moved inside the cats and what happened to the tiny living things (bacteria) in their tummies. When cats ate more, food moved faster inside them, and their bodies took out fewer nutrients. This means that even if they ate more, their bodies used less of it.
The tiny bacteria inside them changed too.
Good bacteria that help fight off bad ones increased. But another kind, linked to some not-so-good health conditions, went down. This is different from what we see in overweight people.
Swanson said the speed at which food moves inside might be why the bacteria changed. He thinks that looking at this in future studies might help us understand our pets better.
Now, if you’re thinking, did the cats poop more when they ate more? Yes, they did! Their poop also became more acidic, which means their bodies weren’t using up some parts of the food well.
The scientists thought that cats might become lazier as they gained weight. But, they didn’t see big changes in how active the cats were. However, this might change from cat to cat and how they live at home.
Knowing what happens inside cats when they gain weight can help us keep them healthy. If your furry friend is a little on the chubby side, there are things you can do.
In another study, Swanson showed that giving cats a fixed amount of food can help them lose weight safely. Playing with them and making them move more, or even using fun food puzzles, can help too.
After this study ended, the chubby cats were put on a diet. They went back to their normal weight. So, there’s hope for every chubby Kitty out there!
Both studies can be found in the Journal of Animal Science. If you love your cat, let’s make sure they stay healthy and not too chubby!
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