A Weighty Issue: Is Your Tubby Tabby Tipping The Scales?

If your cat is toting around a heavy burden of extra fat at her next routine examination, your veterinarian is not likely to mince words. He or she may inform you that your furry friend is obese. Feline obesity is a life-threatening issue, and shrugging off your cat's pudgy figure as pleasingly plump or cute and chubby will only compromise her health and reduce her lifespan. Weight loss can be challenging in cats, but it is vital to your cat's vitality and longevity to work with your veterinarian to monitor her weight and implement a safe and effective weight loss program.

Stats and Facts About Fat Cats

According to a survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention, 29.8 percent of the feline population within the United States is overweight, and an additional 28.1 percent is classified as obese. This means that more than half of our nation's cats are facing increased risks for developing the following serious health conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiac disease
  • Certain forms of intra-abdominal cancer

If these portly kitties require surgical or dental procedures, they are at increased risk for anesthetic complications.

If your cat weighs at least 10 percent more than her ideal weight, it is time to take control of her girth and restore her quality of life.

Lean Kitty Cuisine

Your veterinarian may recommend a prescription diet that promotes weight loss for your cat. Once a diet is selected, your veterinarian will determine your cat's ideal target weight and discuss daily feeding amounts. If you are instructed to refer to the feeding guide on the bag of food, follow these important points:

  • Feed the amount of food stated for your cat's target weight.
  • The stated amount on the feeding guide represents the daily ration. If your cat eats more than once per day, divide the amount by the number of daily feedings to determine the serving size of each meal.
  • If you feed your cat a combination of dry kibble and canned food, calculate the serving sizes of each so that the total caloric intake for the day does not exceed your veterinarian's recommendations.
  • Measure every meal with a standard measuring cup.

If your finicky feline snubs her new diet, a few tricks can make the food more appetizing. Try warming canned food in the microwave or drizzling a small amount of water from a can of tuna fish over the dry food. If these attempts fail to tempt her tummy, speak to your veterinarian about an alternative diet.

Fitness for Your Furry Friend

It is easy to take a dog along on a hike, engage him in some rounds of fetch or encourage a swim in the pool for exercise. Cats are not so eager to give up their snooze on the sunny windowsill. Exercise is essential as part of an effective weight loss program and to keep a cat's joints in working order. Try these tips to incite your cat to move about the house:

  • Engage her into play sessions with interactive toys, such as a laser pointer.
  • If you reside in a multi-level home, locate the litter box on a different level from the feeding bowls.
  • Dividing her meals into three bowls and place them in different locations in the home.
  • Place a few kibbles from your cat's daily ration into a puzzle toy that she will have to play with to reap the food reward.
  • If your veterinarian recommends low calorie treats for your cat, coax her up and down a flight of stairs or up to the top of her kitty condo cat tree to get her treat.

Weigh-Ins and Bowl Checks

Your veterinarian will recommend intervals at which to bring your cat into the clinic to be weighed. This will determine if the weight loss program is working, monitor her progress and ensure that she is not losing weight too rapidly.

Inspect your cat's food bowl daily to determine that she is eating. Do not feed your cat less than the recommended daily amount of food in an attempt to accelerate her weight loss. When obese cats lose weight too quickly as a result of not eating or eating insufficient amounts, they develop a life-threatening liver condition called hepatic lipidosis. If your cat goes on a hunger strike that drags into two days, take her to the veterinarian at once.

For more information, contact Lamb's Gap Animal Hospital or a similar location.