Farewell fat felines, cheerio chubby cats! By Yvonne
Why is your cats’ weight important? Your cat doesn’t worry about fitting into last year’s jeans and she already knows she is beautiful. However, being overweight is not a cosmetic problem for pets, it is a health problem. The consequences of carrying around extra weight are serious, ranging from osteoarthritis and high blood pressure to diabetes to decreased life expectancy.
We measure a pet’s weight based on a body condition score from 1 (emaciated) to 10 (extremely obese) with scores of 4 or 5 being ideal. What does a 4 or 5 look like? Your cat should have a visible “waist” from the side and top and you should be able to easily count their ribs by feeling.
The most common causes that we see in our practice for those extra pounds are too many treats (including table scraps!) and overfeeding at meal times. What looks like “hardly any food” to you is a big portion for a 10 pound cat. How do you know how much to feed? Start at the low end of the recommendation on the food bag and monitor their body condition and weight monthly.
Treats count as calories too. If you want to give treats, keep them small and keep them few. One kitty treat is really enough at any one time. Remember that praise, play and attention can all be used to reward your pet, too.
Watching what your cat eats is important, healthy diet = healthy cat. Check out these human equivalencies of common treat given to cats:
3 oz. milk = 3 donuts
2 oz. lunch meat = 4 donuts
2 oz. tuna = 6 donuts
1 oz. cheese = 8 donuts
Cats, like us, also need exercise to shed extra weight and maintain good health.Where do you start?
- Devote time every day to exercising your cat.
- Keep the sessions short – 10 to 15 minutes of active play. Fishing rod toys, toy mice, motorized toys, laser lights and other toys can keep your cat moving. Even a flashlight can get your cat active. Just remember to let your cat catch what they are stalking occasionally or they could get bored and move along. Also, rotating toys to make them more exciting they are “like new” again. Use What’s Lying Around the House.
- Scratching posts and cat trees can entice your cat to keep moving. But a few open boxes or a few empty toilet paper rolls can keep your cat moving too. Even a small balled up piece of paper can be entertaining. Pay attention so none of it turns into a choking hazard. Remember that the best type of exercise for your cat is object play. Cats love their toys. The right type of play will not only keep their bodies fit, but their minds sharp as they pounce, tumble, hunt, paw or stalk across the living room.
- If you have a two story home, having their food on the opposite level of where they hang out forces them to climb the stairs and get a mini work out
Take home tips:
- A healthy diet isn’t enough – cats, like people, also need exercise.
- Use your cat’s instinct to stalk to coax him or her to exercise.
- Make 10 to 15 minutes a day to actively engage in play with your cat.
- Don’t push your cat too hard – know when to stop (no panting).
- Healthy diet = healthy cat
The next time your veterinarian recommends weight loss remember that it is a part of our care for your pet and you might even answer “OK, help me do it”.