to prevent a fat cat.
The term “fat cat” takes
on a serious medical connotation, based on a new nationwide nutritional
study on felines. The second annual
National Pet Obesity Day Study reports that nearly 18 percent of all
household cats toss their weight around into the obesity range. A cat
must exceed 30 percent of his ideal weight to be identified as obese.
“ Pet obesity continues to emerge as a leading cause of preventable disease
and death in cats,” says Ernie Ward, DVM, a veterinarian and founder of
the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. “Not only have we become a
nation of couch potatoes, but our pets have become a nation of lap potatoes – and
that’s not good for anyone.”
Consider these starting statistics: About 15.7 million cats – or
roughly the population of Illinois – are obese. Another 35 million
cats – or about the combine populations of New York and Pennsylvania – are
“ Extra pounds in older pets amplify any pre-existing conditions and complicate
treatment,” says Dr. Ward. “As veterinarians, we’re seeing
more and more cats with diabetes, respiratory and arthritic conditions as a direct
result of obesity. These are often chronic, incurable and generally preventable
As editor of Catnip, a national monthly publication affiliated with Tufts
University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, my goal is to educate
people on how to keep their feline friends at their healthy best.
Here are five tips to help you keep your cat fit and at his ideal weight:
(1) Help your cat slim down smartly by taking a “before” photo
of her and put this photo in a visible place such as on your refrigerator
door. Start a food diary and weigh your cat once every week.
(2) Opt for scheduled feedings instead of free feeding.
Instead of filling up your cat’s bowl whenever it is empty, use a measuring cup and
portion out your cat’s daily meals twice a day. If you are unable
to be home at a specific mealtime, consider buying a timed self-feeder
that can dispense controlled portions of kibble at designated times.
(3) Work with your veterinarian on slowly decreasing
daily food portions. Don’t cut back too quickly. In cats, the dangers
of “crash dieting” can lead to hepatic lipidosis, more commonly
known as fatty liver disease.
(4) Set realistic weight-loss goals. It’s best for a cat to lose
only a few ounces per week so that the excess weight comes off gradually
and doesn’t return.
(5) Encourage your cat to play and move around more each
day. Try putting a low-calorie treat like shaved bonito
fish flakes at the top of the
stairs when your cat is at the bottom of the stairs. Show him the treat
and call him up. Drag a toy on a string for him to chase. In other words,
step up daily feline aerobics so your cat doesn’t spend her entire
day napping and not moving.
For more info: For more information on how you can combat obesity in
your cat, visit the Association
for Pet Obesity Prevention website.