Why are some cats fat?

It seems like, for the most part, animals just don’t have the same types of eating disorders that humans do. That is, most of them stay pretty fit, regardless of how much food is available. My parents have a cat and leave food out so it could eat whenever it wants, but it manages to moderate itself and stay in shape without much problem.

It seems like even among domesticated cats at least 90% are like this (i.e. don’t overeat or become fat), but here and there you see one that’s really porked up. Why? One theory I had is that they live an environment where they just don’t have much opportunity to exercise (the one fat cat I knew lived with a girl in a pretty small apartment, vs. my parents’ cat that lives in a larger house where it can run around). But I’ve also seen plenty of cats living in cramped quarters that still don’t get fat. So what gives?

They run banks?

Some cats, like some people, are hella lazy. Some cats are big boned. (My orange cat, Edison, is like one of those World’s Strongest Man cats - he’s fat, but also very muscular under it.)

I would have said deregulation. But apparently this about some other kind of fat cats. So I’ll guess these type simply consume more calories than they burn on a regular basis. Either that, or they suffer from low self-esteem.

I’m guessing it’s a genetic thing. I know that there are strains of lab mice and rats that are genetically coded to be obese, and I believe researchers are studying the possibility of similar coding in humans.

No mystery here: Too much food; too little exercise. Why would they eat too much and exercise too little when other cats don’t? Cats with a tendency to do this can reproduce, because they are protected in human homes, so they pass on their fat DNA/tendencies.

It’ll just get worse over time…

Just not seeing the mystery here.

I’m not sure I buy that though. Cats haven’t been domesticated that long (from an evolution-scale frame of reference), and the house cats I’ve seen all still seem to retain their natural hunting instincts - they love to stalk/hunt/chase things even if they’re just pretending that it’s prey. A “lazy” animal wouldn’t last in the wild for any amount of time.

That doesn’t explain why many cats can have an unlimited food supply available to them (such as the one I mentioned in the OP) and have absolutely no problems with overindulgence.

Many cats are able to self-regulate, and even if the plate is overflowing with food, they won’t eat more than what they strictly need (the finicky eaters). Also, they may have owners who don’t overflow the dish with food.

Other cats, though, don’t get the self-regulate part, and keep eating well past what they should. Their owners, in turn, help them by keeping a steady, constant supply of food instead of restricting it.

The genetics of obesity in animals, other than lab animals, have not been mapped out.

Some cats can’t do yoga.

Such cats are in fact weird. In the wild, it makes sense to get as fat as you can, when you happen to luck out and have an unlimited food supply. What’s wrong with all of these skinny cats, that they don’t?

I suspect that the answer may just be that most housecats don’t have an unlimited food supply.


New Apple product?

Also the wrong type of food. I have read recently that cats are like Atkins Dieters. They require mostly protein to do well. Older cat foods had too much carbs.

We have 2 cats. One is ~7 lbs, the other is ~22 lbs. They eat from the same bowls and food is given to them at the same time every day.

FWIW, the big guy is solid, so even though he is fat, he’s also muscular.

My friend has lots of cats. Only one of them is fat. He is from an oops litter of six that she never found homes for… so all of them stayed, were spayed or neutered and live happy lives as indoor/outdoor cats on a rural property. Mom cat (and her sister) are not super sleek, but not fat, all of the other siblings from the litter are healthy and normal weight, all have free access to dry food and outdoor exercise and all the mice and frogs they can catch and eat. Only one cat is fat. He has been vet-checked for thyroid or other health issues and is fine. So why is he fat but none of his relatives are?

My own cats are middle aged, neutered males and mostly indoor cats. They get unlimited access to kibble and wet food twice a day. Both are at a healthy weight. Nothing special I’ve done - I rarely play with them and mostly just cuddle them when they want to be cuddled. They seem to sleep a lot, except when they are screaming for wet food.

I think just like humans, some cats are predisposed to chunkiness and through domestication, fewer opportunities to burn off their calories.

My home’s an interesting test bed, in a way. I have three cats: a momcat and her two kids. Mina, the mom, is an orange tabby with some Abyssinian in her I believe (face shape is pointy); when I adopted her she’d given birth about three weeks prior, and back then she was shaped like a little pear, with a firm pot belly. (Actually her shape was so weird that I was afraid she had FIP, which can cause a distended belly. The vets confirmed that she was just porky.)

It’s eight years later now, and now Mina’s a 13-pounder still shaped like a pear, much softer but still with a base-belly that’s tight as a drum. Her kids Sophie and Therblig are totally different: Sophie is practically a miniature cat, perfect weight (not to skinny, not fat at all) while Therblig (a boy) is long-legged and lean, sometimes tending to get a little underweight because he’s so damn finicky and hyperactive.

And yet, despite their incredibly different shapes, they all eat the same food (five or six cans a day for all three of 'em). I wish I could get Mina on a diet, but I live in a studio and can’t feed 'em separately, and I don’t want the other normal-sized cats not eating enough.

So what’s the difference between them? I could be generous and say that Mina simply never lost her pregnancy weight :smiley: but the truth is that she, unlike her kids, overeats – sometimes I walk in and I find her noshing away, and she’ll still be parked there ten minutes later. When I notice that I’ll shoo her away from the dishes, of course, but I don’t want to take the food away entirely since the other kids get hungry.

Anyway, there’s my anecdote (which I know isn’t data). Three cats, all related, all eating the same type of food fed at the same time, living in the same square footage, with the same toys/play opportunities. (Well, Therblig tends to chase his mom and sis around the apartment, so he probably gets the most exercise of all of 'em.) But all of 'em have different figures and eating habits.

Cats are idiosyncratic and have different personalities and constitutions, just like humans. I don’t see why their tendencies to become overweight wouldn’t vary just the same way.

We have 2 older indoor cats, about the same age. They both have equal access to free feeding. One is fat, the other is thin. I don’t know why.

Presumably the big one is eating the little one’s food.

I have two cats - brothers from the same litter. Same diet, same age, same genes as much as you can manage. Same colouring even. One is significantly porkier than the other. Not obese, but not slim either. Always was. They do get open access to food. Hard with two of them to restrict one and not the other. They seem to have pretty much the same habits, about the same level of activity. One is just more porky. Just seems to be the way they are.