Maine Coons, arguably the most beautiful of cats is a symbol of prestige and an extremely fluffy pet. They are also felines, prone to letting their hunger get the best of them with an over indulgent owner. Due to this, Maine Coons are quite susceptible to being overweight. Now, you might think it’s easy to tell when your cat is overweight, unfortunately, this isn’t quite the case. Here are some symptoms of a cat being overweight:
1. Arthritis; Joint and movement problems, this can cause very significant pain for your cat, hurting them almost every time they move the afflicted area.
2. Kidney and heart disease; these can easily not just hurt your Maine Coon, but also end their life far before old age will.
3. Diabetes Mellitus; we all hear about diabetes in people, but it can be just as dangerous for your Coon as it is for you, and unlike for humans, we don’t have adequate treatments for animals getting it.
4. Shortness of breath; May lead to breathing and respiratory problems, slightly less serious, but breathing and respiratory problems are often an enhancer, meaning that whichever other issues your cat might have, the breathing problems will likely make them worse.
5. Skin infection and matted hair; Due to their inability to groom themselves, whilst sounding relatively benign it is not, matted hair can cause serious infections, which can turn into wounds and spiral into very serious problems.
Now, that said, how do you even tell a cat is overweight? Besides her looking like a bowling ball, there’s quite a few other ways to tell if your Maine Coon could stand to lose a pound or two. Some of the best ways to do that include:
There should be a very noticeable almost waist-like dip between the cat’s ribcage and her hips, for this it is useful to wash the Maine Coon beforehand, as that way her hair will stick to her skin and you’ll be able to see better rather than just looking at a massive fur ball. You can also try running your hands down her body, you should be able to feel the indent with your hands.
Again, it might be a bit difficult to do this with a Maine Coon, which is why you should either wash the kitty or run your hand down her side. A cat that is not overweight will have an upwards slope from the ribcage to the back legs, if instead of that your cat goes straight, or even downwards, that is enough suspicion it might be overweight.
Feel the cat’s torso, you should be able to sense where her spine is, and especially where her ribs are without much issue, if you aren’t this is a sign of trouble, although it could just be your Coon being a wee bit too fluffy, it’s always good to err on the side of caution.
The consequences of it being overweight, which hopefully you’ve recognized as a potentially huge issue to your furry friend are that experiences a lower quality of life. Due to this, there are quite a few expert resources around taking care of your Maine Coon, such as this expertly made video, which I recommend you watch.
It’s probably worth thinking about how much food you are putting down and whether this is consistent with the weight gain. The question then arises, is your Maine Coon getting a second source of food? Ask around your neighbourhood if you think it may be getting a little more food than you think it should.
If you’ve decided that your Maine Coon could do with loosing a few pounds then here’s some tips for helping you through the process.
So what’s unique about a Maine Coon’s diet? There’s a few simple things that set them apart, for example, they’re the largest domestic cat breed, going up to 18 pounds. A Maine Coon doesn’t mature until 3-5 years old unlike most cats that’ll have matured a lot earlier.
In practice, what this means is that you might be measuring what you think is weight gain and is in fact your Maine Coon still growing. So this has to be taken into account. They’re also prone to hip dysplasia due to their size, meaning that Maine Coons are even more at risk of being overweight than most other breeds of housecat.
If it’s a kitten, you should feed your kitten a formula specially designed for them, this meets all the nutritional requirements a growing cat will require. Since Maine Coons reach maturity later than other cats, keep them on formula longer, most cats take 4-5 months but keeping a Maine Coon on it for about 9 months often times proves to be a good idea.
Firstly then, the obvious, limit portion sizes to about 2/3 of what your cat currently eats. This will result in them sometimes being a bit hungry, so you should be prepared to deal with pouncing, judging looks and meowing. The important thing is to not give in, the decrease in portion size will be a great health benefit for your cat. If necessary feed it smaller portions and more often.
Secondly, pay attention to what you feed her and cut out table scraps. A lot of us feed our cats leftovers or scraps from cooking, this is not only sometimes unhealthy for them by itself but it also slows their metabolism and makes us think that we’re feeding them less than we actually are. Think of them as ‘cat snacks’ that can be removed from the calorie intake.
Thirdly, consider the calories you are putting into the meals. It’s tempting to pick up something from the cat food isle but how many calories are in that food. Check the packaging and do some online research about healthy cat food. It will be just as nutritious, but may contain less calories for your cat to consume.
The other half the equation is exercise and the burning of energy. An overweight Maine Coon will be a lethargic animal and so it’s important not only to regulate their diet but to get them sufficient exercise.
This can be done by playing with them more often, giving them toys to chase and expend energy and such but might mean it needs more roaming time outdoors. That’s easy if you live somewhere where the Maine Coon has access to a rich variety of playgrounds but can be more tricky if you live somewhere more urban.
Thus it might be important to walk your cat often, actually put your Maine Coon on a lead and wander around the neighbourhood a bit. Start with short walks and work your way up to longer or more frequent jaunts. As your Maine Coon gets a bit fitter and more curious about the ‘big outdoors’ it might start going out of it’s own accord.
So take the chance and take your Maine Coon outside for a walk or playtime at least two to three times a day, as this keeps the cat active, entertained and most importantly burns fat just as it does in humans.
You should also make sure to feed your cat a balanced diet, this is in case you aren’t using specially made cat food, but raw ingredients instead. They all need a variety of nutrients in their food, starting from fats and amino acids to carbs and vitamins, of course they also need good sources of protein. In case your cat’s feeling ill after a meal, it’s probably milk, cats actually don’t enjoy processed milk much.
In conclusion, there’s a lot to take in about weight care when it comes to Maine Coons, but it’s more than worth it for their health and longevity. Your Maine Coon will massively thank you for it.