What is the percentage of cats in the United States who are considered obese?

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According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 22 percent of all cats in the United States are considered obese, and if you think an extra pound or two on an animal is no big deal, know that it can be comparable to 30 to 50 pounds on a human.

The reason for this upsurge may be one—or a combination of many—of the following:

• A high-carbohydrate diet. A dried kibble with a lot of corn is the single worst food for cats. Cats are meat-eaters and must have muscle meat protein to live, such as chicken, turkey, fish, rabbit, the sorts of food cats ate in the wild. With this, there’s just too much carbohydrate.

NOTE: Some manufacturers engage in ingredient splitting, a practice where components of one food are split up so they appear far down on the ingredient list, looking like only small amounts are use, but add them up and it results in a whopping amount of one ingredient. Corn seems to be the most prevalent in this use.

• Free Feeding: This is when you leave food (dried) out all day so your pet can eat at will. This is tantamount to us snacking all day! Ideally, a cat should be fed three to four small meals a day but many cat owners work long days, and there is no one home during the day to feed the cats. Hence, they often resort to using “free-feed” dry food feeders, which allow new food to flow into the bowl as cats eat. If you fall into this category, look at free feeders that now incorporate portion control.

• Lack of exercise. You won’t find a lot of obese cats among those who are allowed free access to the outdoors. The indoor cat is another story, however, so do incorporate some extra play-time to keep your feline in tip top shape.

NOTE: Do remember that cats tend to sleep more than any other animal—sometimes as much as 20 hours!

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