The Cost of an Overweight Cat

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Pet obesity is a major problem in the U.S. According to the 2013 APOP survey, 58% of cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Perhaps even worse, a whopping 26% of all cats are considered obese. Studies in some other countries, like the United Kingdom, show that this problem exists globally as well.

We frequently talk about the health implications of an overweight pet, today we want to take this opportunity to highlight the substantial financial cost to owners with overweight cats. If a much shorter life span and a lower quality life for your cat is not reason enough for you to change the way you feed and exercise your them, perhaps the realization of how costly it can be to have an overweight cat will be the impetus to change your behavior.

The Financial Costs of Having an Overweight Pet

Researchers at the Michigan State veterinary hospital conducted a study to determine the annual treatment costs associated with common canine and feline diseases and disorders. The results for cats are shown in the table below.

Annual Costs of Common Feline Diseases

Disorder/Disease Average Cost
Heart disease $1,065
Hypertension $1,241
Osteoarthritis $286
Cancer $994
Diabetes $860
Pancreatitis $1,483
Chronic kidney disease $1,065
Hyperthyroidism $1,401

An overweight cat is more susceptible to many diseases and orthopedic disorders. In fact, virtually all of the conditions listed above are more likely to occur in overweight pets than in properly weighing pets. According to APOP, the primary risks of overweight pets include:

  • Heart and Respiratory Disease
  • High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Many Forms of Cancer
  • Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury (ACL)
  • Kidney Disease
  • Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

Although pancreatitis is not on the APOP list, overweight pets have a higher risk factor for this than do healthy weight pets.

In 2011 alone, pet insurance claims for diabetes increased by 253%, according to Petplan USA, a pet insurance company. Claims for heart disease and arthritis rose by 32% and by 348% respectively. The fatter our pets get, the more prevalent are the associated diseases.