Nearly 'killed by kindness': Cat three times normal weight prompts overfeeding warning from charity

  • The excess weight makes it difficult for Rainbow the cat to move normally

A cat who left charity care as a tiny kitten has returned three years later as a "dangerously overweight" adult with her "life at risk".

Rainbow first arrived at the Cats Protection Adoption Centre in Bridgend in 2018.

The stray kitten was taken in from a feral colony where she had been extremely underweight at just 0.49kg.

She was nursed to health and found a new home but unfortunately her owner became increasingly unable to manage her weight.

Rainbow as a kitten Credit: Cats Protection

Rainbow arrived back at the centre last month, weighing 12.7kg - three times the weight of an average cat of the same age.

Sue Dobbs, manager at Bridgend Adoption Centre said she was "shocked" when she first saw the feline cat.

“To be honest we were shocked when we saw Rainbow", she said.

"We knew her weight had been a struggle and that was why she was coming back into care, but she is one of the heaviest cats we’ve taken in.

Rainbow arrived back at the centre last month, weighing 12.7kg - three times the weight of an average cat.     Credit: Cats Protection

"To remember how she had been so tiny that we didn’t think she would survive, and then to be faced with a cat whose joints and organs were under pressure from the excessive weight, and who was so big she couldn’t play or even run from danger if she’d needed to, it was terrible.”     

Because of her size, the young cat could not groom properly or clean herself after toileting, which are essential cat behaviours.

Her eyes were red and crusty and she was infested with fleas because an individual parasite treatment would not contain enough medication to treat her size.

Rainbow also had urine burns, total fur loss and inflamed sore skin around her rear-end and legs which needed to be shaved, bathed, and treated.

“Poor Rainbow was sore, itchy and unclean", Sue added.

"Not being able to express her natural behaviours such as hunting, playing, running and hiding will have left her feeling depressed and fearful.

"We know overfeeding Rainbow wasn’t intentional and she was on a special diet when she arrived at the centre, but she was truly a victim of being slowly killed by kindness.

"Too many treats or large portions combined with minimal exercise soon takes its toll on cats.”

Rainbow was put on a tailored diet and was provided with opportunities for exercise and mental stimulation.

Her skin conditions have also been treated and she has now reached 8kg.

Once her weight has dropped further, the centre will be looking for a new home for her. Credit: Cats Protection

Once her weight has dropped further, and she has been given a clean bill of health by the vet, the centre will be looking for a new home for her.

But Rainbow's new owners will need to maintain her calorie-controlled diet and keep a close eye on her weight, as cats are more likely to put on weight when they have previously been obese.

Dr Sarah Elliott, Cats Protection’s Central Veterinary Officer, added: “While most cat owners have a strong bond with their cat, they may be tempted to over-indulge their cat with food or treats.

"Owners may do this out of love or to make their feline feel like a family member. Sadly, we are doing them more harm than good as overweight cats are at significant risk of diabetes, joint problems and urinary infections.”

 Cats Protection advises that owners should:

  • Weigh out cat food daily, not overfill bowls, and if giving cats treats, reduce the overall amount of food provided

  • Avoid giving cats human treats such as milk or cheese as many cats cannot digest cow’s milk products

  • Ask neighbours to help by not feeding cats other than their own. This is especially important if cats are on a special diet or medication. Consider affixing a simple paper collar to your cat stating that they are on a diet and politely requesting neighbours avoid putting out food

  • Talk to their vet about their cat’s weight and body condition.

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