We absolutely adore cats. From the tiniest smol meows to the biggest floofs around. And the latter ones call the ‘Illegally Big Cats’ subreddit, a community of nearly 13k feline-loving redditors, their home. We’ve collected some of the biggest cats and their adorable photos for you to feast your eyes on, dear Pandas, so go on and boost your mood by diving headfirst into this pile of cats.
However much we might like big cats, being overweight is a huge detriment to their health. So while we might compliment these cattos and want to hug them tight, we also want them to live their best lives to the fullest. And that means helping them take care of their health (more on that below!). Though keep in mind that some cat breeds, like Maine Coons, are naturally bigger without being overweight.
We wanted to learn more about how excess weight impacts a cat’s health, so we reached out to our friends at the PDSA, the UK’s leading veterinary charity. PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing was kind enough to walk us through everything in detail.
“It’s important to remember that when a cat is overweight the excess pounds puts additional strain on the normal functioning of the body,” Vet Nurse Downing explained to Bored Panda. “The same may be true for some larger breeds of cat, especially amongst the pedigrees, where gene pools can be smaller.”
When you’re done scrolling through and upvoting these awesome cat pics, Bored Panda invites you to check out our polar opposite article about the ‘Illegally Smol Cats’ subreddit right over here.
Magnas The Great
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PDSA Vet Nurse Downing highlighted that pedigree cats such as Maine Coons can suffer from heart disease or other breed health conditions that they inherited from their parents.
“It’s vital that if your cat may have underlying health conditions, you do everything possible to keep them healthy so the condition isn’t made worse or brought forward early on in life. You can achieve this by feeding your cat the right amount of a good quality complete food, and by encouraging exercise, so that your cat can maintain a healthy lifestyle. The additional strain of any excess weight on top of underlying health conditions will only make things worse.”
Downing was candid that cats that carry around too much weight have an increased risk of a whole host of health problems. It’s the same for them as it is for us. “As with us, carrying excess weight puts extra strain on joints, makes organs work harder, and can interfere with the normal functioning of the body,” she said.
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“Overweight cats are at risk of developing diabetes, bladder problems, including painful blocked bladders, liver disease, arthritis, breathing problems, and even cancer. As well as these directly associated conditions, it’s worth remembering that once your cat’s health begins to deteriorate additional problems can start to develop as their body weakens.”
Excess weight affects every aspect of your pet’s daily life. An overweight cat is less active, sleeps more, and is less interested in the world. “Although cats sleep a lot naturally, when they’re awake they should be alert and active—cats are athletic and agile creatures, so disinterest in life is an unnatural behavior for them to develop,” Vet Nurse Downing warned us to keep an eye out on for any changes in our tabbies’ behavior.
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Bored Panda was interested to find out why owners tend to overfeed their pets. According to Downing, overfeeding is a result of the emotional bond between owner and cat. “Our nurturing nature for those we love can be expressed in many ways, including in the form of wanting to feed our loved ones, and it’s no different with our pets.”
Vet Nurse Downing revealed that from her experience in weight clinics, she’s seen many owners overfeeding their rescue cats to make up for the neglect that they experienced at their last home. That and owners feeding their cats because they keep asking for food and their human parents can’t bear to see them upset.
“These are both very understandable emotional responses. However, we need to change our mindset so that we don’t see food as the only way to express our love. Our pets of course need to be fed, but it’s important to understand that feeding is to meet the nutritional requirements for your pets’ good health and wellbeing.”
My Illegally Big Boy Ajax
Downing continued: “By overfeeding pets, we are actually harming their health and shortening their lives. It’s important to recognize as well that many owners don’t even realize that their pet is carrying too much weight. We can become blind to our pets’ physical shape, as we see them every day.”
Instead of nurturing our cats just through overfeeding, there are others ways that we can show them our love. “Spend time to research a suitable food for your cat and weigh it out with scales each day to make sure you’re feeding the correct amount. You can also make your cat work for their food by sharing their daily food allowance into different bowls and placing around the house, or using puzzle feeders,” she said.
“But remember, time, play, and activity are gifts that enrich our pets’ lives just as much as food does. By playing with our cats, we can keep their mind sharp and their body active, as well as the benefit they gain from the time we are spending with them. This will help them stay healthy and avoid any health problems associated with weight gain from developing. If owners can replace the treats and extra food with more playtime and snuggles, this is a much healthier way to show them how much you love them.”
You’ll find some additional expert advice about caring for your cat by visiting the PDSA’s website right over here.
The ‘Illegally Big Cats’ subreddit is clear that the community is meant for “somewhat big (or fat)” cats, but there’s no place for “morbidly obese” ones. In other words, the community isn’t celebrating feline obesity so much as showing how majestic these floofs can look despite their chonkiness. The only exception for sharing pics of obese cats is if they’re on a diet.
Funnily enough, the moderators of the r/illegallybigcats point out that the online group isn’t meant for photos of puppies. And it’s got our imaginations working overtime why somebody would post dog pics in a cat-only community.
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As for cat health, in an earlier interview, I spoke about keeping our pets happy and slim with Dr. Ernie Ward, the founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. “Obesity is our cats' number one health threat. Feline obesity is more than ‘chonky,’ it's a biological time bomb,” he said.
“Obesity in cats is a serious disease with many severe consequences such as diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and many forms of cancer. The worst part of feline obesity is that it reduces their life expectancy and dramatically reduces their quality of life. Cats with obesity desperately need our help,” Dr. Ward told Bored Panda.
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Dr. Ward revealed to us that roughly 90 percent of a cat’s weight loss is related to its diet; only around 10 percent is tied directly to physical activity. That’s why, when it comes to managing catto weight, the key takeaway point is not to overfeed your cat.
“That's why it's so important that cat owners precisely feed the correct number of calories each day. I recommend having your veterinarian assess your cat's current Body Condition Score (BCS), setting a target of an ideal weight, and calculating the number of calories you should feed each meal,” Dr. Ward said.
The Polydactyl Chonk I Catsit Every So Often. He Weighs About 25 Lbs And Has Paws Almost As Big As My Hands!
Chip Exploring Outside!
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“I strongly encourage cat owners to weigh the food using a kitchen scale. We've done experiments with cat owners and veterinary professionals and have consistently observed that using a measuring cup isn't as accurate as needed to achieve weight loss in many cases,” the pet healthcare professional told Bored Panda earlier.
“Even feeding as few as ten extra kibbles each day can add up to a pound of weight gain in a year for a cat. Once you get the hang of it, weighing the food takes no more time than using a measuring cup. Finally, work with your vet to adjust the diet or calories every three months if your cat isn't losing weight.”
My Extremely Loving 25 Lb Ball Of Fluff, Daemon Is Ready For His Audition For The New Icon =) He's Part Maine Coon And Part Turkish Van So He's A Huge Boy. As Big As My Torso. He's So Sweet And Loving And Sleeps With Me Every Night. I Love My Sweet Boy
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Dr. Ward said that he’s seen too many cats who were fed the same food for months without losing weight. “When I ask them why, the pet parent shrugs, ‘I'm feeding the special food my vet prescribed.’ Weight loss is a journey with many unexpected turns and hills; you must stay alert and be willing to take a different path if you're not reaching your objective.”
As for exercise, Dr. Ward said that three 5-minute play sessions with a laser pointer, feather duster, or cardboard box each day are enough for most cats.
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“I also like using ‘hunter feeders’ and food puzzles to engage a cat's ‘inner predator.’ Use vertical surfaces, climbing towers, and other perches to allow your cat to climb and ‘stalk’ as much as possible. Environmental enrichment and exercise are essential for emotional and behavioral health as well as maintaining a lean body mass.”
Dr. Ward said that cats can safely lose from 1 to 3 percent of their body mass each month if they’re on a vet-supervised weight loss program. “That translates to my target weight loss of about a half-pound per month for most cats. If a cat loses too much weight too quickly or is fed too little, it can develop a life-threatening form of liver failure, so be sure to work closely with your veterinarian before beginning any diet program with your cat.”
So, dear Pandas, did you learn anything new about keeping cats happy and healthy? If any of you are cat owners, what do you do to help keep them slim? Which photo in this list was your favorite and why? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. We can’t wait to hear what you think!